Groceries: Bill of up to Dh200,000 to meet Baqala standards

The overhaul includes new electrics, shelves, fridges, even a ceiling, costing up to Dh200,000.

ABU DHABI // Faisal Abdul Kadir started renovating his grocery last Monday. It will take at least two weeks to turn it into one of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority's new Baqala stores.

The overhaul includes new electrics, shelves, fridges, even a ceiling, costing up to Dh200,000.

"The authority said I could only store small quantities of food at a time to avoid it going bad," he said. "Different types of food must also be stored separately."

A CCTV camera and sliding doors are not compulsory. "We should have two exit doors, that's what's mandatory," he said. The glass doors must be 12 millimetres thick.

The top wall shelves have to be closed up with cupboards, with the highest shelf no higher than 220 centimetres, to ensure customers can reach them. Central island shelves must be at 160cm or below.

Malek Mikael Okla, his contractor at Circle Art Decor, said the revamp would make the store modern. "Before, the shop had a low temperature which wasn't acceptable by the authority's standards," he said.

Three smoke detectors, an exit light and four emergency lights will be fitted, as will four fire extinguishers. A sliding door to the storage room will ensure food is kept cold enough.

The electric system will go from a single phase to a three-phase - considered more efficient as it provides about 10,000 more watts of power.

A new fridge will be installed as well as new stoves and wash basins. There will be more open space, too. "There must be a corridor at least 85cm wide," said Mr Okla. Fortunately the shop is big enough to meet the new 35 square-metre minimum.

Then there is the branding. A Baqala sign will be mounted on the side wall, with Baqala stickers on the sides and back. Over the entrance will be the required Baqala sign, three metres wide and a metre high, with the shop's name and number in small print underneath.

Another shopkeeper upgrading is Rasheed Mulekkel Mohammed, who has owned Al Azaa Vegetable and Foodstuff on Muroor Road for 16 years. Work starts this week, paid for with a Dh130,000 bank loan.

He too will have new shelves, wall and floor tiles, ceiling, electrics and doors. His air conditioning was up to code, saving him the cost of a new one, but it will be a month before he can reopen.