‘Slum market’ returns
Traders relocate after raids on Bengali Bazaar
Strong beer, gambling tables and cheap meat kept in sweltering temperatures are among the items to be found in a ‘slum market’ held every week in Abu Dhabi.
The market has relocated after raids in May of last year, according to labourers and vendors.
Hundreds of low-paid construction workers and vendors descended on a disused patch of ground near ICAD residential city on Friday, having been cleared out of a similar market elsewhere in Musaffah last May.
In many cases, labourers earning as little as Dhs900 per month told 7DAYS they attempt to supplement their income by selling bags of tomatoes for just Dhs2 per kilo.
Many others cook up meat dishes, setting them out in 40C-plus temperatures.
Sellers told 7DAYS they realise they are breaking rules and regulations but feel they have little choice to earn money.
However, others sell alcohol such as the strong Philippines lager, Red Horse, for as little as Dhs10 per bottle.
Others run gambling games in which those taking part are charged Dhs100 - half a week’s wages for many - in the hope of doubling their money.
Both are breaches of federal law.
“This place started a few months ago with a handful of vendors selling cooked food to labourers here on Fridays, but it has now grown into a big market,” Mohammed Saddiq, a Pakistani worker who frequently visits the market, told 7DAYS on Friday.
Saddiq, who earns Dhs900 per month from his mechanic job in a Musaffah garage, said goods in the market were less than half the price than in the cheapest supermarkets.
“One kilo of tomatoes is sold at Dhs2 and onions Dhs2.
“I can also get carrots and green papers at the same price, unlike in grocery shops or supermarkets where the price is more than double.”
Indian labourer Suhail Kareem was looking to buy old clothes and a blanket.
“I have bought some old jeans for Dhs8 each,” he said.
“I also bought a blanket from one vendor at Dhs110.
“The price is similar to that in shops but I find it easier buying here as it’s close to my accommodation.” On the vendor’s side, Noordin Khalid, a Bangladeshi who sells fruit and vegetables, says he works in a welding shop where he earns Dhs800 a month and claims he is left with little choice.
“I get such a small salary that I come here every Friday to make an extra income, selling fruit and vegetables to labourers,” he said.
“I buy the items from the fruit and vegetable market in Mina on Thursdays at low prices and bring them here on Friday.”
Khalid says he gets between Dhs100 to Dhs200 in profit from the items.
On the gambling tables, labourers played games of chance, with the winners clinching Dhs100, and the unsuccessful losing that amount.
Alcohol dealers tend to hide cans and bottles of the 6.9 per cent strength lager under parked lorries and fetch it once buyers approach them.
“They sell Red Horse to people secretly at Dhs10 per can or bottle,” said one Bangladeshi labourer.
Police and Abu Dhabi Municipality previously urged buyers to avoid such markets, and told vendors the practice is illegal.
They also warned that food sold there is entirely unregulated and could pose a danger to people’s health.
EXTRA CASH: Vendors sell rugs and food - but others sell alcohol and run gambling games