Abu Dhabi Fish market

in the North-East of the Corniche of Abu Dhabi, in the Al Mina district, there is fish souk (Abu Dhabi fish market): this is an opportunity to discover local fishing. Sea workers, mostly from the Indian subcontinent, hold a hub that supplies luxury hotels and supermarkets. Outside, dozens of docks are moored. Nearby, the carpet souk may be the occasion of a quick tour, maybe bargaining, and certainly pretty pictures.

Display at the Al Mina Fish Market in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. ©Odyfolio

If you are lost in the vicinity, the smell of fish will surely guide you to the covered shed. It is the most popular fish market in Abu Dhabi. The professionals come to stock up. The merchants also sell to the few individuals of passage: if you are lodged at the inhabitant or rent an apartment, do not hesitate to come to the fish market.

The market opens every day very early in the morning and remains open for much of the day. Admission is free and you will be quickly approached by merchants wishing to sell you their fish. Although the places are not at first very pleasant, tourists are relatively frequent and the workers accustomed to their presence.

For small quantities, difficult to haggle, but watch how traders negotiate their supplies. The souk opens at 3am in the morning when dhows unload their catch, and the activity is very intense around 5am when the negotiations are in full swing. The market stays open all day, so it's useless to get up at dawn to visit!

A new larger fish market opened at the end of 2013 near Mushriff mall, sized to process 50 tons per day, but it is the Al Mina market that will delight the most foreign visitor.

Fish from the Persian Gulf

The warm waters of the Persian Gulf are rich in fish. Especially the surroundings of Abu Dhabi which, thanks to the preservation of mangroves, offer ideal nurseries for fish.

The local fish that is served in all restaurants is the Hamour. Its price is rather high for the pleasure of the palate it provides. Among the big fish of the corner, the Sekal, long and of gray color.

A wide variety of fish can be found at Abu Dhabi Fish Market. Among others Farsh, Zeraidi, yellow fish with black stripes or Hamra, fish with orange hues. Rare to find, the Disco, which is aptly named with its multiple colors yellow, turquoise, orange and gray, and the Gain, yellow and blue fish with rounded shapes that seems to come out of a cartoon. In less fanciful adornments, the Senksar, Suman, Faskar, Shekhali, Sooli, Sheri and Yanam are difficult to differentiate for non-specialists. We will let you discuss with vendors who will try to sell you fish with exotic forms and names such as Gabit, Jash Naimi, Jash Shal, the little Badha, Kofer or Safi.

Display of the Al Mina Fish Market in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates ©Odyfolio

Visit of the fish market

The visit should be relatively succinct, with a walk in the alleys. If you buy, the prices are interesting and cheaper than in the supermarkets of the city. At the bottom of the building, right on the way home, the fishmongers in red outfit will empty your fish for a small sum.

Emptying fish at the Fish Market in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. ©Odyfolio

Things to see around the Fish Market

The possibilities of restoration around the fish market are reduced. The fish market has a few restaurants and their customers are mainly fishermen. If you are open to spicy fried fish dishes, served in a rudimentary stall, this can help you out.

From the fish market, take a stroll along the waterfront and watch the dhows, traditional wooden fishing boats, which are moored with their metal bins stored on the dock. The opportunity to understand the difficult condition of immigrant fishermen who live on the deck of their boat. In the neighborhood also, the carpet souk, and part of the quiet ledge for walks or jogging.

Dhow Harbor

Abu Dhabi's dhow harbor has retained its charm, with its traditional wooden boats designed for cabotage and fishing, recognizable by their slender hulls and metal lockers hung on their stern. They are moored in large numbers next to the fish market. In the shade of the glass towers of the corniche, it is an opportunity to glimpse, away from crowds and luxury hotels, the difficult life of the sea workers who feed the megalopolis. Indians and Pakistanis basically, they live every day of the year on these rudimentary boats, showering and washing their clothes on the deck.

Abu Dhabi carpet souk

A wide variety of oriental style rugs are displayed under your eyes and you will not know which one to choose. There are two main families of carpets: those handcrafted by hand (expensive and imperfect, these are the most sought after) and those manufactured industrially by machine (cheaper but more regular weaving and robust). Silk carpets will be more expensive than woolen ones and you will find few carpets in other materials. No carpets will be produced locally: they come from Iran (quality guarantee normally), Yemen, Turkey, Kashmir, Caucasus and also from China. Attention also to the density (number of knots per square meter): the higher it is, the better the quality. Then for patterns and colors in infinite numbers, it's a matter of taste, so it's up to you.

The Al Mina carpet market may not be the most memorable shopping experience in the country, but will certainly please those who really want to buy a rug, as there are many shops with stock. Tip: do not forget to bargain. Even if you found the carpet you want for your house, do not let anything appear because it would be unreasonable to pay at the price originally announced.

Access map and practical information

The Abu Dhabi Fish Market, locally known as Fish Market, is located north of the Abu Dhabi Corniche in the Al Mina neighborhood, adjacent to the commercial port.

Map of Al Mina (Fish Market and Carpet Market), north of the Abu Dhabi Corniche, United Arab Emirates ©OpenStreetMap contributors

The site is far from the other attractions of the corniche, so choose a taxi or a car to get there. There is parking on site. Many cars park on unauthorized areas, so be careful before doing the same.

Hotels and restaurants nearby

For shopping (and air conditioning atmosphere), head to Abu Dhabi mall nearby. There are few interesting dining options in the Al Mina area so the restaurants and food courts at this mall can be a quick and cheap option. The hotel Méridien nearby also has several simple outdoor restaurants. The Rotana Hotel adjacent to the mall has a dozen cafes and restaurants; on the ground floor the Trader Vic's serves Polynesian French cuisine in the evening, and transforms into a casual bar and dancing every evening until 1:30, with live Latin music performed by a Cuban band.

Also close to the fish souk, the Sofitel, Sheraton, Royal Meridien and Millenium hotels offer a selection of bars and restaurants.