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Ajman Fish Market


Page update - Sep 28, 2022

Since ancient times, the economy of the Emirate of Ajman has been based on the sea gifts - pearl diving and fishing. Buying and cooking fresh fish is still in the habits of the emirate's inhabitants. The local fish market is prospering.

The fish market is so important to the people of Ajman that they did not even close it during the lockdown in the spring of 2020! The authorities only prohibited visitors to attend the fish auction (a local interesting action, which will be described below). And of course now (September 2022) the market is operating as usual.

In 2016, Ajman authorities estimated that 85% of tourists in the emirate visit the fish market. It was decided to improve it and make it an important tourist attraction. Every year it only gets better and cleaner. It is considered to be the best fish market in the UAE, surpassing its counterparts in Dubai Deira and Sharjah.

It is interesting for tourists to see the fauna of the Persian Gulf there, and no need to scuba dive. You can buy and cook fresh fish for an affordable fee. But first things first.

Where is and how to get there

The Fish Market is located on Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street, named after one of the rulers of the Emirate of Dubai. We told about him on our page "The Sheikhs of the UAE". This street runs along the shore of Ajman Bay. The market is on the way from the city center to the Ajman Free Zone.

It is quite far from the beach hotels. You will have to take a cab that costs from 10 to 15 dirhams, depending on the location of your hotel. See our "Money in the United Arab Emirates" guide for current exchange rates and "Taxis in the United Arab Emirates" guide for fares.

If you rent a car, there's free parking near the market. You can find a free parking place on weekdays, but it's hardly possible on weekends.

The market building is easy to recognize. You will see big air inlets of the ventilation system on the roof. It makes sense, imagine for a second how actively you need to ventilate the building with so many fish inside!



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Working hours

Daily: from 7am to 1:30pm and from 4pm to 10pm.

It is better to come from Monday to Thursday, then there will be fewer people in the market. Starting January 3, 2022, the United Arab Emirates switched to a 4½-day workweek. Read more in our review "Weekends in the UAE".

What to watch, how to buy, what to taste

Important Warning! No matter how good the ventilation and air conditioning are, the market smells like fish. If you can't stand the smell, don't come there.

The fish market is indoors and consists of three rows of stalls. There are 116 stalls, counters, and stores. Besides fish, 14 outlets sell vegetables, 4 sell and make sugar cane and coconut juice, 3 deal with meat, 1 sells fruits, 1 sells eggs.

In addition to the outlets, there is a special area for cleaning fish, and this area is divided into men's and women's sections. There are toilets, an ATM, a small pet store.

There are outlets that sell fish and seafood, there are outlets that cook fish.

It's not hard to buy. You have to walk up to the vendor and point your finger at the fish you like. The vendor will tell you the price. You can bargain a bit, but not always you can lower the price. The fish cost from 10 to 20 dirhams (for 1 kilo, 2,2 lb), shrimps cost from 20 to 30 dirhams depending on the size, crabs from 50 to 80, lobsters from 80 to 100. On average, the prices there are 1.5-2 times lower than in supermarkets.

After buying fish or seafood, take it to the cooks. For 5-20 dirhams they will grill or boil (your choice) and wrap it in foil. Spices and lemon juice are included. You can order it without spices, then say the phrase "no spicy" beforehand.

Only dirhams are usually accepted (some vendors take only cash). Dollars are rarely taken and at an awfully unfavorable rate. Change money in advance, read our review "How to exchange currency in the UAE".

A separate attraction at the market is the Fish auction, which usually takes place after 4pm, when fishermen bring in their catch. The action is noisy and poorly understandable for foreign tourists. Tourists see a man shouting something loudly and how the fish is poured out of the boats, and some people take it away.

This is how market vendors buy fish from fishermen. A boat comes to the pier, the fisherman unloads the fish, a few traders come up and say who will give what price for the catch. The highest bidder takes the fish. The shop workers, mostly Indians or Iranians, take the fish and bring it to the market.

When you walk through the fish market of Ajman, pay attention to an important point - all the fish there are only large, there are no small specimens. The fact is that there are strict laws on the protection of nature in the UAE.

The law defines the minimum length of a specimen from which the fish can be sold. Anything shorter than that must be released back into the sea. In September 2017, officials from the UAE Ministry of Climate and Nature (MOCCAE) conducted a raid. They walked around the market with straightedges, found several violations, and fined the violators. The news about this raid went viral in all the media in the Persian Gulf.



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Restaurants nearby

If you want to try the local fish but don't trust the local express chefs then go to one of the restaurants: Al-Hamria and Nabaroo. They are located across the street from the market. Use the pedestrian overpass near the market building.

Local fish we advise to taste

Sweetlip (aka Sheri or Safi) is very common in the Persian Gulf, but you can hardly find it in US, UK or European stores. The Arabs call this fish "yanam".

This is an expensive fish. The price in supermarkets in the UAE for large specimens is 30-40 dirhams, in the market one can buy it for 20-30 dirhams.

This fish is very popular among the UAE natives, hence the high prices. Unfortunately, there are no interesting recipes for this fish in Arab cuisine, it is just grilled with spices.

The Red-eared latrines (aka Pink-eared Emperor) is known under the Arabic name "Shaari Eshkeli".

Specimens of this kind are small - about 15 centimeters, although some grow up to half a meter. This fish is a vicious predator and feeds on mollusks, crustaceans and other fish.

Similarly, as with sweetlip, there are no interesting dishes, the fish is grilled or pan fried with spices.

Ebzimi can be a big fish. The males reach 4 kilograms, the females can be even bigger. It is easier to taste such fish in a restaurant.

At the market you can see really big specimens that are waiting for their customers, the suppliers of the restaurants.

Ebzimi fish live up to 17 years, and some danger lies in this, as the fish accumulates toxins and collects harmful substances from the water during its life. We recommend trying small specimens if possible.

The fillet is fried with spices. There is an Arabic fish soup similar to European fish soups, but it is rare. This soup is called "Shawrabat" and is made from any fish.

Useful to know

- For the prices of fish and other groceries in the supermarkets read our detailed review "Grocery prices in the UAE";

- Be sure to check out the fruit shops. You can find Emirati dates at a fraction of the cost of supermarkets. Read about the best varieties and how to choose dates in our review "Dates in the UAE".

Have a good visit to the Ajman fish market, and read our interesting pages about the United Arab Emirates (see list of the pages below).

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