Ajman tourism officials hope to make fish market a catch

Tourism officials hope to turn the Ajman fish market into a tourist attraction in a project set to get under way during the summer.

Lining up their catch: soon a fish monger will call customers to bid at Ajman Fish Market. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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AJMAN // With about 85 per cent of tourists to Ajman visiting the fish market, tourism chiefs have put travellers at the centre of a plan to turn the market into a fully fledged visitor attraction.

Ajman Tourism Development Department said the project would get under way in the summer.

The idea came from suggestions made by European and Asian tourists who visited the emirate last year, said Faisal Al Nuaimi, general manager of the department.

“We observed that about 85 per cent of tourists visit the fish market, which pushed the department to adopt the idea of turning the market into a tourist destination,” he said.

The department is planning what the upgrade will entail.

“The project will include various restaurants, an integrated programme that allows tourists to look at the fishing processes, riding the fishing boats and put fish up for auction and sell them to customers,” Mr Al Nuaimi said.

The market is so popular that Ajman Association for Fishermen has started providing a fish home-delivery service.

“The association will provide 14 workers to follow the orders of customers and deliver them to their houses by a dedicated car equipped with the newest tools to help preserve fish,” said Ahmed Al Ghamlasa, chairman of the association.

Abdulsalam Ibrahim, 51, a Swede of Lebanese descent, is one of the tourists who visited the market. “As a tourist in an Arab country such as the UAE, we love seeing the various types of fish, the traditional processes of fishing and the fishermen. This profession is extinct in Sweden because the new generation refused to inherit it from their ancestors,” he said.

The lawyer said that the project would help to preserve the traditional profession and economy in Ajman.

“It is a good idea to convert it to a tourist destination; it is a clean, tidy and beautiful place.

“I noticed when I went to the fish-cleaning section that there is a lane for ladies. I liked that because it shows a great respect for women. But I also suggest a board showing the timings of fishermen, when they go out and come back from fishing, in all languages for all tourists.”

Ajman’s is not the only fish market in the area to get an upgrade. In neighbouring Umm Al Quwain, work started last month on the 487 square metre market in Al Khor at a cost of Dh825,000, said Mohammed Nasser, head of the engineering department at UAQ Municipality.

“Because it was an old market, we decided to renew it to keep up with the significant increase in the fish trade and the large turnout [of people] to buy local fresh fish,” he said.

The market will be divided into two areas, one with 28 shops for selling fish and another where fish will be auctioned, Mr Nasser said. The UAQ upgrade is expected to be completed by June.

Naser Ahmad, 42, an Emirati from UAQ, said it was necessary to develop the market because it was not suitable for large volumes of fish.

“It is excellent to renew the market,” he said. “ It is the most important one in the UAE because of the availability of various fish, as well as buyers coming from all emirates to UAQ to buy fish.”