‘Slum mar­ket’ re­turns

Traders re­lo­cate af­ter raids on Ben­gali Bazaar

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - By Is­mail Se­bug­waawo @is­mailsebu is­mail@7days.ae

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

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