Everything for sale in a buyers' market

On location: Dubai Flea Market bargain hunters congregate in their thousands to snap up all manner of bric-a-brac. Just remember to arrive early.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð Mar 5,2011: People buying different items in the flea market held at Safa park in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News.
Powered by automated translation

DUBAI // The saying goes that one man's trash is another man's treasure but what changes hands at Dubai Flea Market is far from rubbish.

The open-air market at Safa Park has become a popular destination for sellers and bargain hunters alike with the constant turnaround of people who arrive and leave the city.

The venue is the place to offload unwanted items or pick up something at a reduced price.

It was 8am on a Saturday and 10,000 bargain hunters were pitching tents, pulling out barbecues and preparing to make a day of browsing for anything and everything.

The day began even earlier for the 220 vendors as they descended on the park at 7am to pay Dh230 each to put up a table to display their wares.

"We know a lot of expats who have left or are about to leave," says Freddy Becker, a Venezuelan standing in front of a display of electronics and video games. "We sell their things for them and either send them the money or donate it and unwanted items to charity. It's a great place to make friends and find a few bargains.

"I have Sony PlayStation games that someone probably paid in excess of Dh150 to buy new but I have them on sale for Dh30."

The vendors' offerings find a receptive audience. Tonya Tozzi, who recently arrived in Dubai with her two children, is looking for decorative items for her new home.

"I just moved here from New York," she says. "I didn't find anything that was suitable but my boys picked up a toy sword and a plastic truck. I bought a pair of shoes and a sweater because I got cold."

She is pleased with her haul, which comes to only Dh17 in total.

Aleena Khan, 17, uses her second visit to the market to sell goods on her parents' behalf. "Anything here for Dh2, just Dh2," she calls to passers-by.

"I am off to college and my family is moving from a six-bedroom house to a three-bedroom apartment," she says. "We had too much stuff."

Her table includes DVDs, clothes, books and even a suitcase.

Maggie Thorne, a Welsh woman dressed in a smart suit, looks as if she belongs in a courtroom rather than a flea market. She says she would rather see her goods go to charity than sell them too cheaply to other vendors, who might then resell them for a profit.

"Some people will come and buy from others then sell them at their own tables for more," she says. "If I don't get the price I feel my items are worth, I won't sell them. I would rather give them away to a church."

The flea market was the idea of Melanie Beese, who arrived from Germany almost six years ago.

"In Germany, flea markets are very popular, but here there were none," she says. "After getting tired of going to the same shops all the time, I decided to start the Dubai Flea Market. I held the first one in April 2008. It has been a success ever since.

"The secret to finding the best deals is to come early, as soon as the market opens at 8am, because by 11am all the best items are gone."

Schedules and locations for the flea market can be found at www.dubai-fleamarket.com. On Saturday, a flea market takes place for the first time at The Galleries, Downtown Jebel Ali.