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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

WATCH: Dubai's floating supermarket fills gap many never knew existed

Customers give their verdict on the World's first floating supermarket in Dubai

As a concept, the idea of a floating supermarket off the coast of Dubai may not be everyone’s cup of tea, or even necessary.

But for sailors out for a day of pleasure cruising it is filling a gap many previously never knew existed.

How popular the latest bizarre addition to Dubai’s seafront will be remains to be seen, but one thing is certain – do not try to board the floating Carrefour if you are yet to find your sea legs.

Skipper of 14-metre yacht Dreams, Marie Byrne was one of the first sailors from Dubai Offshore Sailing Club to try out the ship-shaped shop floating a few hundred metres off Jumeirah Beach.

“I’m not sure there was a need for a supermarket at sea, it’s certainly not something I’ve thought of before,” she said.

Mooring up alongside the floating rig, complete with four supermarket shelf stackers and part-time boatman, was the biggest challenge for Ms Byrne, a veteran sailor.

“The sea was quite rough so it was hard to stop the two boats from crashing into each other, so we had to take it slowly,” she said.

“It’s handy that they accept cards as well as cash, but they had no fresh milk when I called in.

“Otherwise, it’s a great shop. I was surprised at how much stock they had, but it is quite small inside with just a few fridges.”

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Selling everything from cigarettes to contraceptives, and lots of other items in between – the Aqua Pod has something for everyone.

And with concerns over ocean plastic to the fore of late, the yacht has a sea bin attached that sucks any floating debris into its holding tank. The refuse is then safely disposed of onshore.

“The floating bin that collects rubbish from the sea is a good idea, and I was impressed that was something they had considered,” Ms Bryne said.

But the new shop certainly is not for those uninitiated at sea. One of the crew on board found the motion of the ocean a little too much, and spent much of the brief attachment to Carrefour hanging over the side, emptying his breakfast into the Arabian Gulf.

The pod first appeared cruising up and down the Dubai coast in early December.

Carrefour's floating shop staff prepare an order for a customer. Antonie Robertson / The National
Carrefour's floating shop staff prepare an order for a customer. Antonie Robertson / The National

It is open from 10am until 6pm, with jet skiers and other small boats able to cruise up to a side window to place their order.

The mini-shop gained much attention when it launched and so far, staff there have spent more time enjoying the view from their stunning surroundings than serving a constant flow of customers.

Pot Noodles, tins of tuna, baked beans, crisps, chocolate, long-life milk, tea and coffee are just some of the goods on sale.

Although there is no fresh bread or fruit, salad bowls can be purchased.

Ade, from Nigeria, took a job in the supermarket just a few weeks ago, and was hired especially for his nautical skills.

“I have my sailing qualifications so I think that was the main reason why I was offered the job,” he said.

Dubai resident Marie Byrne takes her yacht out to try the new Carrefour floating shop. Antonie Robertson / The National
Dubai resident Marie Byrne takes her yacht out to try the new Carrefour floating shop. Antonie Robertson / The National

“We get a couple of boats every day. Ice creams are our biggest seller, but we sell all kinds of long-life items that can be stored on boats.

“If anyone wants to place an order, they can give us a call in advance and we can then bring it out to them.”

Most of the trade is expected to come during weekends, with leisure cruisers and party boats able to phone in an order.

“I think it’s a good idea, although it is probably more suitable for a jet ski or smaller motor boats than the larger yachts we have at DOSC,” said Ms Byrne, a long-time sailing club member.

The craft is manned by four staff members who are more than happy to help a visiting boat dock alongside if its sailors want to take a closer look.

“It is not like being in a normal shop,” said Filbert, from the Philippines, who also has more experience working on boats rather than in retail.

He said he enjoyed the job and there had been only one day when the sea was too rough for them to go out.

We have only not been able to go out on one day when the weather was too rough. The view keeps changing and you never know who is going to drop in.”

Updated: December 13, 2018 02:40 PM

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