Since ancient times, the basis of the economy of the emirate of Ajman was made up of marine industries – pearl fishing and fishing. Buying and cooking fresh fish is still in the habit of the emirate, and the local fish market is thriving.
For the residents of Ajman, the fish market is so important that it was not even closed during the lockdown in spring 2020! Only the visitors were forbidden to attend the fish auction. And naturally, the market is working now.
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 just gets better and cleaner here. It is considered the best fish market in the UAE, surpassing similar markets in Dubai in Deira and Sharjah.
Tourists here are interested in seeing the fauna of the Persian Gulf, there is no need to dive with scuba diving. Fresh fish can be bought and cooked here for a fee. But first things first.
The fish market is located on Sheikh Rashid Ibn Said Al Maktoum Street, the street is named after one of the rulers of the Emirate of Dubai, we talked about it in the article “Sheikhs of the United Arab Emirates”. This street runs along the coast of Ajman Bay. The market is on the way from the city center to the Ajman Free Zone.
It is far from the beach hotels, you have to get there by taxi, the price of the trip is from 10 to 15 dirhams, depending on the location of your hotel. See the current rate of the dirham in our review “Money in the United Arab Emirates”, taxi rates in the review “Taxi in the United Arab Emirates”.
If you are driving a rented car, then use the free parking near the market. On weekdays you can find a free seat here.
The market building is easy to recognize. On the roof you will see a large air intake, this is a ventilation system. This is logical, imagine for a second how actively you need to ventilate the building, where there are so many fish!
Important warning! No matter how perfect the ventilation and air conditioning system is, the market smells of fish. If you can’t stand the smell, it’s best not to go here.
The fish market is located on the premises and consists of three shopping malls. There are 116 stalls, counters, and shops in the rows. In addition to fish, 14 outlets sell vegetables, 4 sells and make juice from sugar cane and coconuts, 3 are engaged in meat, 1 sells fruits, 1 sells eggs.
In addition to retail outlets, there is a special area for cleaning fish, and this area is divided into male and female parts. There are toilets, an ATM and a small pet shop.
There are outlets that sell fish and seafood, there are outlets where fish is prepared.
It’s easy to buy. You need to go to the merchant, point your finger at the fish you like, the merchant will say the price. You can bargain a little, although the price can not always be brought down. Fish costs from 10 to 20 dirhams, shrimp – from 20 to 30 dirhams, depending on the size, crabs – 50-80, lobster – 80-100. On average, prices here are 1.5-2 times lower than in supermarkets.
After purchasing fish or seafood, take them to the chefs. For 5-20 dirhams, they will grill or cook (at your choice), pack in foil. Spices and lemon juice are included. You can order to cook without spices, then say the phrase “Know spicy” in advance.
They accept only dirhams and only cash, dollars are rarely taken and at a terribly unfavorable rate. Change money in advance, read our review “How to exchange currency in the UAE”.
A separate attraction on the market is the fish auction, which usually takes place after 16:00 when the fishermen bring their catch. The action is noisy and incomprehensible. Tourists see a person shouting something loudly and how fish are dumped from boats, and some people take it away.
This is how market traders buy fish from fishermen. A boat approaches the pier, a fisherman unloads the goods, several merchants come up and say who will give what price for the catch. The one who gave more takes away. Shopworkers, mostly Indians or Iranians, pick up the fish and carry it to the point of sale.
When you walk around the Ajman fish market, pay attention to an important point – all the fish here are only large, there are no small specimens. The fact is that the UAE has strict environmental laws.
The law defines the minimum length of an individual, from which the fish can be sold. All shorter fish must be released back to sea. In September 2017, employees of the UAE Ministry of Climate and Nature (MOCCAE) staged a real raid here. We walked around the market with rulers, found several violations, and fined the violators. The news about this then “rang out” all the media in the Persian Gulf.
Sweet lip (aka “sheri” or “safi”) is very common in the Persian Gulf, but it is almost never found in Russian stores. The Arabs call this fish “Yanam”.
This is an expensive fish. The price in UAE supermarkets for large individuals is 30-40 dirhams, in the market, you can buy for 20-30.
This fish is very popular with UAE residents, hence the high prices. Unfortunately, there are no interesting recipes for this fish in Arabic cuisine, it is simply fried with spices on the grill.
The red-eared letrin (aka the “pink-eared emperor”) is known here under the Arabic name “Shaari Eshkeli”.
Individuals of this species are small – about 15 centimeters, although some grow up to half a meter. This fish is a fierce predator, feeding on mollusks, crustaceans, and other fish.
Similarly, as with sweet lips, there are no interesting dishes, fish is fried with spices on a grill or pan.
Ebzimi is a large fish, males reach 4 kilograms, females are even larger. It is easier to taste such fish in a restaurant.
On the market, you can see really large specimens that are waiting for their buyers – suppliers of restaurants.
Ebzimi fish live up to 17 years, and there is some danger here since the fish accumulates toxins during its life and collects harmful substances from the water. We recommend trying small specimens, if possible.
Fillets are fried with spices; fish soup similar to our fish soup is rare. This soup is called “shavrabat”, it is prepared from any fish.