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To many outside of the region the thought of a Farmers Market here in the sandy, arid deserts of the GCC sounds impossible. Like eskimos buying ice. However, for those of us who live here, it comes as no surprise knowing the increasing importance put on supporting local industries and the growing awareness on health and wellness.

Farmers markets have sprung up all over the region now and have been received overwhelmingly by the public. Both locals and expats have welcomed the markets, showing that priorities for families are the same; eat well, eat affordably and support local farmers where possible. These markets are also offering a space for communities to gather, and for some of the countries, a space where both locals and expats come together in public like no other venues.

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In Bahrain the farmers market started over a year ago with 20 stalls and this has now increased to 30 with up to 17,000 people visiting each Saturday. Amongst the local produce available to buy are stalls to eat traditional Bahraini breakfasts of balaleet and drink fresh juices. Families take advantage of the wide green space and set up picnic for the day while children run around in delight.

Dubai’s Emirates Towers hosts the Dubai Farmers Market. Somewhat smaller than Bahrain’s, but still bustling and popular, this market is reminiscent of the chic farmers markets of London and New York, where boutique and niche produce such as the mini alfalfa sprouts and Greek olive oils vie with produce from local farms.  Here you can fuel up on breakfast from Baker & Spice and drink local ghahwa to keep you going.

A recent addition to the Farmers Market scene is the Local Harvest Farmers’ Market in Abu Dhabi. Here you can by ‘farm fresh’ Local Harvest fruits, vegetables, dates, honey and other produce. Local Harvest is an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre (ADFSC), to provide technical and operational support services to farmers to help them grow and market their produce.

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In Kuwait, Qout Market has been established on a monthly basis throughout the season, to support Kuwait based community farmers and artisans. Here vendors consist of Kuwaiti farmers, organic food products from Kuwaiti initiatives and artisanal crafts.  With over 100 stalls and an average of 15,000-20,000 visitors on market days, shoppers can buy their produce and also savour street food. Here local culinary stars show off their skills and cook up a range of foods such as; Mexican, Indonesian, Thai, modernised local cuisine, Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas, and more.

At the Qatar’s farmers market, shoppers are able to buy their produce on the doorsteps of the farmhouses that produce the local vegetables. 30km out of town is the 3-daylong farmers market, where local farmers sell seasonal, fresh vegetables and fruit.

The rise of farmers markets in the GCC can only be seen as a good thing. With locals and expats alike coming together to support local farms, speak to the vendors and encourage a stronger understanding of healthy, seasonal fresh food.

Bahrain

Saturdays, 8am- 12noon

Budaiya Botanical Gardens

Dubai

Saturdays, 9am-1pm

The Farmers' Market On The Terrace, Emirates Towers Ballroom car park

 

Abu Dhabi

Friday, 10-4

The Collection, St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

 

Qatar

Thurs, Frid, Sat 7am-7pm

The Mazrourah Yard, near the Umm Salal Sports Club on Al Shamal Expressway.

Kuwait

1st Saturday of every month, 10am - 7pm. Runs from November to April (5th April 2014 is the last one until the Autumn)

Qout Market, rooftop of Arraya Centre's Car Park.

Please note, opening hours are subject to change and many of the markets do shut during the summer months. Do check the exact timings and locations before you go down to your local market!

Note from the Editor: In newspaper reports this week we also hear that an Omani delegation visited the Farmers Market in Bahrain in preparation of establishing one there!

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