Watch: Have you been to Dubai’s new Farmer’s Market to taste delicious Emirati food and fresh produce?


Watch: Eat luqaimat, regag, and more at Farmer’s Souk
Video Credit: Sharon Benjamin / Gulf News

Mohammed Basheer, 27, is an aeronautical engineer by training. However, the young Emirati decided to establish roots instead of chasing the clouds, all because he believed the future was green. He therefore turned to agriculture as a profession.

For 35-year-old Kousar Ameen, her passion for food is what prompts her to sit down, fry luqaimat – a traditional Emirati dish made from fermented dough, drizzled with date syrup and sprinkled with sesame seeds – and serve it hot to each customer.

Jamal, 34, and Nargis Al Shamar, 29, spent their summer days as children eating raw mangoes with Emirati spices. It was this memory that helped them settle down to sell the same experience to customers today.

All of these ideas, beliefs and passions are what you will come across when you visit the Farmers Souk at Al Nakheel Park in Al Aweer, Dubai.

Visit of the farmers’ souk

The Farmers Souk in Nakheel Park, Al Aweer, Dubai
Image Credit: Sharon Benjamin / Gulf News

A quick stroll through the souk will tell you that no two stalls are the same. Bordered in different hues of color, each stall is the product of the effort, sweat and tears that a farmer put into cultivating organic and fresh yields.

Hosted by the Municipality of Dubai, the market is a free social platform that allows Emirati farmers to display and sell their produce there. The Food team spoke to Ahmed Ibrahim Al Zarouni, Director of the Department of Public Parks and Recreation Facilities of the Municipality of Dubai, who said: “Our aim was to encourage and support Emirati farmers as well as to promote local businesses. However, the objectives are twofold. First, for everyone to become more aware of the diversity of local agricultural practices and to gain more confidence in local agriculture. And second, to increase the happiness of citizens and residents of Dubai. “

Brought in fresh from the farm, local farmers are keen to promote a deeper message than just selling their produce. For Mohammed Basheer, his decision to give up aeronautical engineering was mainly due to the fact that he wanted to keep the UAE’s agricultural culture and encourage many people to consider taking a path like his. After all, it has paid off. “I’ve been doing this for two years now. I grew up on a farm and after quite a long study I decided I didn’t want to be around tools and mechanics – I just wanted to go back to my farm and start over. This is what I did, I set up my farm in Ras Al Khaimah and today I sell herbs, vegetables, dairy products and even fruit foods from my farm, for everyone can taste a little of my happiness at home. . “

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Look no further and find fresh vegetables in the souk
Image Credit: Sharon Benjamin / Gulf News

Rashed Al Ketbi’s 25 years of activity has taught him one thing: People will always choose a greener path one way or another. It was in 2008 that he decided to opt for organic farming and since then, there is no going back for this 41-year-old man. “I have only had success by opting for organic farming. People love “fresh from the farm” products, especially since the quality is never compromised. I think social media is a powerful platform too and can do wonders for you when planning your goals. I have done this myself and I can tell you that many have requested my products. The souk here is a boost to my goals of getting better results for my farm.

The same goes for Abdul Al Owais, who has been running his own farm for 16 years; for Mohammed Noor, 40, who comes all the way from Umm Al Quwain to sell his farm produce, and even for Samar Muhammed Abdi, 29, who came from Liwa to Abu Dhabi.

But why the Al Aweer souk? And how does it relate to the existing Al Aweer market?

“As the souk is focused on the agricultural sector, Al Aweer is known for the number of farms there. It is therefore a strategic place for participants to transform their materials and their greenery. The connection, however, to the Al Aweer market is that it [the souq] is allocated to fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices, and it will entice the target customer to take a look and see other options in the souk ”, explained Ahmed Ibrahim Al Zarouni, director of the public parks and facilities department recreational activities of the Municipality of Dubai.

Serve traditions on a plate

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Dates covered with grated coconut for small bites
Image Credit: Sharon Benjamin / Gulf News

Food is the heart of the market, the very food that is not in the hands of many farmers around the world today. By participating in the farmers’ souk, a healthy competitive spirit among farmers is fostered, so that customers get the best products at the best prices.

One of the other things that makes the souk unique is that you can taste some of the UAE’s vast culinary culture. In a small corner, Kousar Ameen and his sister run a booth where customers can feast luqaimat, regag, pakoras, hares and Karak chai, served hot and cold. “We’ve been doing this for a while now. We live in Ajman and I have always been motivated by my passion to cook. Over the years I have learned something new and incorporate it into my cooking. The Farmers’ Market has provided us with an outlet to prove that even women can run a business if they think about it and that we all have the same right to show our talents no matter what.

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Arabian ground coffee, do you like it?
Image Credit: Sharon Benjamin / Gulf News

Like Ameen, Mira Al Asli, 34, sells henna, cow’s ghee or clarified butter, olive oil and frankincense – which were a key part of her childhood. It’s a dream that took years of trying and testing. She took the same concept of “everyday use” and transformed it to sell something homemade.

Again, the same goes for other Emiratis like Mariam Al Nadi, who sells homemade pickles, laban and a few other dishes that have accompanied her since her childhood; and for Osama Halawa, 40, who sells jars of labneh and travels regularly to Dubai from Al Ain.

Preserving culture, traditions and hospitality

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Sultan Syed and Khalid Muhammed will make you taste traditional honey from Sidr and Samar
Image Credit: Sharon Benjamin / Gulf News

The United Arab Emirates have always remained true to their culture and traditions, whether through customs or food. Visitors to the farmers’ souk will be able to experience Emirati culture, traditions and hospitality on a small but notable scale.

The Food team visited the booth of Sultan Syed, 22, and his friend Khalid Muhammed, 30. Their flagship products are honey from Sidr and Samar. Hailing from Al Ain, the friends talk about their five-year journey running a full-time honey business. “We wanted to bring a product that would preserve our culture and also be tasty – so we came up with honey! You can never run out of it, it’s healthy and always brings a smile to people no matter how sweet it is. We have two kinds – Sidr and Samar honey, both from trees of the same name.

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Jamal and Nargis Al Shamar
Image Credit: Sharon Benjamin / Gulf News

We also asked Jamal and Nargis Al Shamar why they chose Hamba mangoes to be the heart of their business. “We grew up eating this and noticed that this tradition was slowly fading over time. We didn’t want to see it go away, which is why we decided to bring it back up ourselves. We spent a lot of time researching sour liquids, spices, mangoes, everything so that we could make everyone feel the same as we felt when we first ate it.

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Take a bite of your childhood with hamba
Image Credit: Sharon Benjamin / Gulf News

“It has been a challenge, especially because the mangoes are seasonal, but I can say that our research has helped us improve the business. We know this because we see people eating it with so much happiness and enthusiasm. It’s been two years and nine months since we started… we started at home and now we are here, we are in Global Village, Winter Garden in Al Habtoor… we just want to tell everyone about Hamba. We also serve pineapple, guava, laban popsicles, and lemon mint juice.

Go to the farmers’ souk

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The souk is part of an initiative of the Municipality of Dubai and will be open to visitors (free of charge), until March 2022
Image Credit: Sharon Benjamin / Gulf News

If you are driving, the easiest way to get there is by Emirates Road. If you are traveling via the Dubai Metro, you can get off at Rashidiya station and take the RTA 11A or 11B bus, which takes you directly to the location. It should take you around 50 minutes to an hour to reach the location.

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Eat at the Koshari Food Stand while you’re there!
Image Credit: Sharon Benjamin / Gulf News

The souk has 34 kiosks of organic products and opens every Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. It will run until March 2022. Visitors can enter the park for free.

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About Tammy N. McFarlane

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