Street fair offers a taste of the future

Market@Masdar debuted yesterday without a hitch.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð April 29,2011: People going around in the farmers market held at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News. Story by Jen Thomas
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ABU DHABI // Children enjoyed star billing yesterday at Market@Masdar, the first in a series of monthly street fairs planned for the sustainable development,

Crowds of youngsters gathered at the fair for a chance to hold a rabbit in the kids' corner. A face-painting station and a crafts area, where participants could decorate their own flower pot or plant a seed, were popular attractions. Dozens of youngsters splashed in the multicoloured fountains at either end of the market space.

"It's nice to see families here, to see Masdar City being opened up to the community," said Steven Almeida, operating manager of the Abu Dhabi Organic Farm, the only internationally certified organic farm in the UAE.

Market@Masdar, the first community event hosted at Masdar, was planned as a family day that would also promote green living and locally available eco-friendly products and services.

Shops selling everything from wall hangings and jewellery to nutritional products and home goods lined the market as crowds roamed the sustainably designed structure.

Ekotribe, a local company that sells environmentally friendly and organic products, sold almost all of its supply of eco-friendly water bottles, bags and stationery.

"People came up and told us that we had a really good idea, and they were supportive," said Lena Lingaya, a saleswoman for Ekotribe. "I think that we will definitely be excited to come back for the next market."

Vendors set up temporary stalls alongside some of Masdar City's permanent fixtures. These include an Organics Foods and Cafe and Somo Sushi and Bento.

Market@Masdar is expected to attract artists, organic-product vendors, food and produce sellers, spa and relaxation services and a variety of entertainment facilities to Masdar City.

Organisers estimated that more than 1,000 residents visited the development as part of the festivities, which included a tour of the city.

Visitors joined lengthy queues for a chance to ride in futuristic "personal rapid transit" vehicles - driverless pods that transport passengers at the touch of a button.

Families were treated to performances by magicians and clowns, along with children's workshops and films.

Masdar City was built using green techniques that relied on solar power, wind energy and recycled building materials.