Meet the market traders at Dubai's Waterfront Market

Meet the hardworking vendors at the Deira market, where customers and sellers set the competitive prices

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If you're looking for fresh market-priced produce, Dubai's Waterfront Market should be near the top of your shopping list.

'Bustling' is an often overused word when it comes to describing malls and markets, but it truly applies here. I visited the Waterfront three times during the height of summer, and the air-conditioned market has been far from quiet. On every occasion, I left with enough seafood to feed a small army.

Click through the gallery above to meet a handful of the men working day and night to give us foodies with the fresh ingredients we crave. 

As a market beside the water, it almost goes without saying that seafood is the main thing on sale. In the Waterfront Market's spacious fish section, shoppers will find everything from octopuses, oysters and lobsters thought to the catch of the day.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Mohammed Nasir a vendor inside the seafood section at the Waterfront Market, Deira.  Leslie Pableo for The National

"We don't set the price," Sami Eid, the Waterfront Market's marketing lead, tells The National. "We want to encourage bartering and bargaining, so the sellers and customers set the prices."

A nightly auction runs from 11pm until 6am, which is when many of the UAE's hotels and restaurants buy their produce. In a bid to encourage small businesses and independent fishermen, small boats are given free entry to the auction and can sell fish 24/7.

It is not merely seafood on offer, though. There are also dry produce and meat sections, and a massive fruit and vegetable hall, as well as a hypermarket. All of this is all housed in a giant building, with a host of restaurants that have views over the water from the back.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Different kinds of dates inside the fruits and vegetables section at the Waterfront Market, Deira.  Leslie Pableo for The National

The Waterfront Market is a relatively new feature on the Dubai shopping scene. It opened exactly two years ago this month, having taken over from Deira's famed Fish Market. That decision received its fair share of criticism at the time, as adoring shoppers mourned the loss of the original marketplace, but, as Eid puts it: no one wants to shop for fish when it is 40°C outside. And, since opening, the Waterfront Market has proven to be a hit.

Crucially, many of the vendors from the old market – including some who have worked in the UAE for more than 40 years – have moved to the new site.


Read more:

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A guide to grocery shopping in the UAE: 41 places to buy your food in Dubai and Abu Dhabi