Photo essay: A melting pot of cultures on Marafi Street in Abu Dhabi

The vibrant thoroughfare is located in Madinat Zayed, one of the oldest parts of the capital

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Al Marafi Street in Madinat Zayed is bustling with people.

Located in one of the oldest areas in the heart of downtown Abu Dhabi, the district is known for its variety of shops, where everything from shoes to mobile phones can be purchased and anything from bikes to computers can be fixed.

The buildings have several restaurants located on the ground floors while residents live above. Barbershops, small grocery shops, pharmacies and clothing boutiques are also scattered around, catering to the lively neighbourhood.

For some, these stores have been family-run for decades with employees who have remained loyal for many years.

Syrian Mohammad Riffai has been at Najma Demasdcus Book Shop for 15 years while Pakistani Mohamed Ismail, 27, now works at Star Link Computers, a business his father and uncle started 40 years ago. Ismail has been around the shop since he first learnt the ropes when he was 15.

Anas Anzy, 24, studied mobile technology at the University of Kerala in India and returned to his father’s store CellPark Mobile Phones to work for the past four years. Pakistani Issa Sherani, 26, works for his brother as a shoe and leather repair technician at Stars Gallery Shop.

However, beyond stores, the area is also a good place to look for affordable movers and packers if on a budget. Mostly from Pakistan or Afghanistan, the men tend to have a minivan available to help transport belongings, with pricing for their services negotiable.

As the sun sets, the buzz of Al Marafi Street picks up as the air fills with a unique blend of different languages and rich aromas from surrounding restaurants and cafes.

Updated: April 12, 2024, 6:01 PM