I have many varying impressions from my couple of days in Dubai so far. I’m still not sure what I think. Am I enjoying myself? Yes. Am I learning things? A big fat yes. Would I visit again? I’m really not sure. Definitely not in summer.
From a climate perspective it’s been hot. Not as hot as summer when it reaches the high 40s, but hotter than I expected in March. It was humid yesterday, thanks to what felt like about 125 very fat drops of rain. I didn’t expect that.
There is sand EVERYWHERE. That was a shock. And I don’t know why, given the desert is not far. Just as surprising is how green the grass is. Irrigation and water use at it’s peak I assume.
There is over-the-top showiness. The Palm Jumeirah. The water fountain show at the Dubai Mall (developed by the team who developed the water fountain show at Bellagio in Las Vegas). The stunning waterfall, also in the Dubai Mall. And of course, the indoor ski slope at the Mall of the Emirates.
The biggest surprise to me is the Dubai farmer’s market. That they even have a farmer’s market. With food provided by local farmers. The UAE and farmers wasn’t a connection I had made.
The market is small, and has a short season due to the summer heat, but everything is locally produced. The fresh produce comes from within a 90 minute drive of Dubai, according to my Dubai-based blogger friend Sally, from My Custard Pie.
There are farmers who grow leafy green veggies. And celery. That truly astounded me, and really shows that when you want to do something, you can.
Other fresh produce on offer when I visited yesterday included the most beautifully sweet cherry tomatoes, pomegranate, red and white radishes, lots of fresh herbs, the tiniest potatoes I have ever seen, beans, eggplant, sweet potato and more. I tried pomegranate juice for the first time. It won’t be the last. Sweet and tart all at the same time.
There were also quail eggs, chicken eggs, four types of honey from Yemen including one infused with ginger – sublime. Baked goods are provided by Baker and Spice, who are also the instigators and organisers of the market, which has been running since 2010 at the Ballroom Gardens at Jumeirah Emirates Towers.
I see why locals flock to the market as the quality of the produce is excellent. I also understand why they are devastated when the local growing season ends. Most of the produce in the supermarkets is imported and expensive.
These markets have been a highlight of my visit to Dubai. Huge thanks to Sally (who I initially “met” via twitter for all you twitter skeptics…) for picking me up, showing me around, introducing me to her friends and the farmers at the market, and mostly for giving me great advice on how to spend my days here.
Do you live in Dubai? Do you go to the Dubai farmers’ markets?
Or have you visited? What were your impressions?
Disclaimer – I’m here on holiday and this visit was personal. I’m just sharing the farmers’ market love, because without our wonderful farmers, what would we eat? Processed crap mostly I expect. Yuk. So support your local farmers and eat your locally grown produce in season as often as you can.