Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Neighbourhood Watch: the Dubai farmers' market still growing strong a decade on

Visitors come from across the emirate to buy fresh produce in the middle of the city

A thriving farmers market in the heart of Dubai has been serving customers for close to a decade.

People travel from all over the UAE each Friday morning to buy farm-fresh seasonal products against the backdrop of one of Dubai’s most famous urban districts, Business Bay.

Seasonal fruit and vegetables, fresh lemonade, vegan ice pops, baked goods and breakfasts are only some of the foods on display at the bustling Bay Avenue market, which has been serving up a healthier take on life since 2010.

Rashed Al Kitby, 40, makes the journey from his farm in Al Ain every week.

He said traders were benefiting from social media exposure and an increased focus on healthy eating.

“This is becoming a very famous market in the UAE. You get people from all different kinds of nationalities coming here every week,” he said.

“The rise of social media has definitely helped spread the word about the value of organic and healthy food. Every week there are more and more people coming here.”

Mr Al Kitby has been trading at the market since its opening.

Since then,the market has evolved from simply selling fruit and vegetables to also meeting more modern demands.

“The market is still pretty unknown to a lot of people,” said Canadian Angela Bahlooq, 28, who sells dairy and sugar-free milk products from her company, Genki.

“We’ve had a good reception from customers though. There is definitely a growing trend of people becoming more aware of the health implications of what they are eating. This market shows that.”

Another new vendor is Salma Hijjawi, who has had an "overwhelming" response to her vegan-friendly ice-pops.

“There has definitely been an increase in interest in vegan products from the public,” said the Jordanian.

The market continues to be a big a hit with customers too.

Visitors from across Dubai mingle with those who live a mere stone’s throw away.

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“It’s a small market but the produce is a better quality and has more variety than in the supermarkets,” said Harry Doyne-Dilmas, who lives close to the market.

“The traders are able to give you more information about the products they are selling.”

Mr Doyne-Dilmas, 31, said the market, while still not cheap, offered better value for money than most supermarkets.

He visited with Flo Sadler, 29, also from Britain, who is already looking forward to her next trip to Bay Avenue.

“This is the first time we have come here but we’ll definitely come back,” said the interior designer.

Rajat Khanna lives in the Bay Avenue building above the market and makes it a regular part of his weekend.

“We come to buy fresh organic vegetables and we like the lively atmosphere the market creates,” said Mr Khanna, 48.

“My wife and I look forward to it each Friday as it’s lovely to walk around the market in the good weather.”

He said the market had many advantages over Dubai supermarkets.

“You know the quality of the food is good here because it is organic. The prices are a lot better here than in the stores and there is much more variety too,” said the banker, who was accompanied by his wife Priya.

Another local resident making it a foodie Friday was Jordanian Sereen Ahmed, 38.

“I live in the building above and come here every week because the vegetables are organic so I know they will be high quality even if the prices are about the same,” she said.

“Some weeks I bring the kids too and we have breakfast together in the market. It’s a nice place to hang out.”

Shreyas Mehta travelled from Dubai Marina.

“It’s a really cool place and I am impressed with what I’ve seen,” said the fashion buyer.

“I will definitely come back for the English breakfast, if nothing else.”

Updated: January 23, 2019 02:14 PM

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