Category Archives: Shopping

Family Mart – local superstore

Dinnerware galore

Even though there is no doubt that going to one of the many big shopping malls in Abu Dhabi will see you sorted with everything you need, I think it is also good to support local shops – also because sometimes they hide more than a bargain and a few unique pieces.

I have already written about Abdul Karim, the wonderful shop inside Mina Centre.

Family Mart is similar, as it has a lot of the same tableware ranges, but I would classify it as a ‘superstore’ because it also sells a lot of other items, such as beauty products, make up, clothing, small furniture… you name it.

I could not find an official website for this store, but here is a map. In any case, it is easy to find as it stands right next to the big Toy’s R Us and Ace Hardware stores, sort-of in the same block as Royal Furniture, on Mina Port.

I bought several make up products here – you can get lovely nail polish which is of great quality and costs only a few AED, and of course many baking/cooking tools.

Something I particularly like of this shop is the extensive range of dinnerware and glassware. They also literally have everything you might need for your home, from barbecue tools to small appliances, plus disposable glasses and trays in all the shapes and sizes you can imagine – just perfect for a party. They also have a lot of Arabic coffee pots, traditional coffee sets and other local items. I just love this shop!

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The exterior of the shop

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A great assortment of baking trays.

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The place is massive!

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Saving money: online vouchers

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(screenshots © Groupon, Yallabanana, Strange Offers and Kobonaty)

Life in Abu Dhabi is great because you really have the chance to do anything you want, try a different nation’s food each day and enjoy sports and natural sights. To help keeping expenses under control, a good idea is to use discount vouchers.

Apart from the Entertainer book, there are also a lot of online voucher companies, offering a “deal-of-the-day” type of approach. You subscribe to their daily newsletter and every day there is a new gift certificate available, to be used in various local establishments, from restaurants to beauty spas, but also to buy different items or even to get a tailor-made suit.

I have personally tried only one of these websites, so I can’t really offer first-hand experience for all of them, however these are the companies we heard about since we arrived in Abu Dhabi, and the ones I am going to keep on the radar from now on, scouting for interesting deals.

Groupon – Half price on things such as pizza, a head massage and a kayaking experience.

Yallabanana – Today’s deals include paintballing, a buffet lunch, and a water jet pack experience.

Strange Offers – The offers on this website are indeed strange, but for those who always wanted a log pillow, an Eggmaster or an engraving pen, this is probably the right place.

Kobonaty Deals – This website seems to be offering mostly holidays or getaways, to local destinations, such as Umm Al Quwain and Muscat, or international ones, such as London and the Maldives.

And for a general round-up of various offers from different outlets, there are Voucher Codes UAE or Big Discounts UAE.

If you have had any experience with any of these sites and you would like to share it, or if you know of more websites, please let us know!

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Click HERE to read more about EXPAT info & tips.
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Mina centre: Jarir bookstore

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A wide range of books, both in English and Arabic.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Where: Meena Mall, Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi
Opening Hours: Sat 9am-11pm, Sun-Wed 9am-1pm, 4.30pm-10.30 pm;
Thu 9am-1pm, 4.30pm-11 pm; Fri 4.30pm-11pm
Tel. No. +971 2 673-3999, Fax No.+971 2 673-3222

This bookstore, known to some as United Bookstores and to others as Jarir bookstore, is an Aladdin’s cave for all bookworms out there, and for the crafty ones, the pinterest-addicts, the artists, the DYI gifters and all those who might need stationery for all sort of purposes. The store also offers a good selection of electronic items and accessories.

This spacious shop has it all: books on all subjects you can think of – from cookery to international politics and architecture, both in English and Arabic, and all sorts of stationery for the office and arts and crafts supplies: you can even buy canvases and an easel for your next masterpiece, or ‘colour the dots’ books for your first steps into the world of art.

A lot of office supplies…

…and art supplies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinterest addicts rejoice!

The shop from outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I personally love to go there to browse their sales tables (sometimes they sell books for just a few AED, and my amazing bread machine recipe book came from there) and to look for pretty wrapping paper.
The truth is that I am a sucker for anything stationery-related, and I could spend hours browsing pens and cute notepads, hence W always has a hard time dragging me away from here!

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Saturday lunch at the fish souk.

Friendly vendor agreed to be pictured with this huge shrimp!

Mina port is probably one of the most charming areas of Abu Dhabi, and a personal favourite of mine. From the dhow harbour to the Mina centre, here is where we go if we want to feel as we are somehow off the beaten track, even if ever so slightly.

On a sunny Saturday, around 12pm, we visited the fish souk, as our friend M had heard that you can have lunch there.
It was reasonably busy, buzzing with vendors and customers, haggling for the best prices.
I was impressed by how clean and well organised the stalls looked: all vendors wore gloves, aprons, nets and name badges, which gave me the feeling of a very professional environment.
And yes, it smells fishy, but it is fresh fish smell, not a miasma, hence it is not unpleasant (and it is a vegetarian talking!!) and soon you get used to it.

Freshly fished.

The fish was neatly displayed.

Lots of choices.

Every stall is very well organised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, here is how it goes down, if someone wants to have lunch at the fish souk:

1) Choose the fish.
The fish is caught fresh the previous night, so the choice is different every day but also very diverse. Official prices are written on boards all around the market, but you can haggle with single vendors to get the best price.
Our friends decided to buy some shrimps and shark, and got them from two different stalls.
In general, the stalls further away from the main entrance door seemed to have slightly better deals, but the difference between prices is anyway minimal.

2) Get the fish cleaned.
At the back of the market area there is a big group of men dressed in red: those are the fish cleaners, both for people who want to eat there or just get their purchases cleaned before bringing them home. Apparently, if you buy shellfish for lunch, you can get it cleaned directly at the kitchens, but for other fishes, you need to get it prepared here. Our friends had the shark cleaned and cut in fillets and they paid 10 AED.

3) Get the fish cooked.
After the fish is ready (and we were invited to look at the cleaning process), we brought it to the opposite side of the room, inside a daedalus of small rooms and corridors. In this area there are small individual shops selling dried fish, fruit, salads, drinks, and anything else you might need.
The kitchen is quite close to one of the entrances: you speak to the cook, tell him how do you want your fish prepared, if you want it spicy or not, and he tells you when to come back to pick up your lunch.
For shark fillets battered and fried and 1 Kg of shrimps, our friends paid 20 AED.
It was very busy when we went there so they asked us to come back in one hour to pick up the cooked fish.

Battered and fried shark.

1 Kg of shrimps!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Eat!
In the same area where the kitchen is, there is a very simple restaurant with tables and chairs, where you can seat to have your lunch.
I have not tried the fish, but our friends said it was absolutely delicious and full of flavour.

The fish market is a very interesting and bustling place, with also other foods been sold: a coconut milk seller attracted our attention. We could choose between two different types of coconut, and he would cut it for us, make a hole on the top, and then give it to us with a straw. It was fresh and really tasty. And coconut milk is supposed to be very good for your health too!

Coconut being prepared…

Such a healthy and fresh treat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the back of the fish market, towards the dhow port, you can find people renting jet skis and offering boat tours, and a series of charming restaurants on dhows.

The whole experience is very interesting: if you like fish, this is something you don’t want to miss.

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Shop local – Ideyna

(Photo: © ideyna)

When it comes to handmade goods, I better hide my money, and fast… I just love handmade art and crafts!

After writing about Etsy and Little Majlis, now I found another website full of beautiful objects made in the UAE.

It is called Ideyna, which means “our hands” in Arabic, and it is an online platform for local artists to share and sell their creations.
The layout is quite simple and straight-forward, and it is easy to browse among all the different objects.
From art and accessories, to homewares and toys, there is something for everyone!
Now, where did I put my wallet…?

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Waitrose in Abu Dhabi

Neatly piled fruits at Waitrose Al Zeina.

WHERE IN ABU DHABI:

  • Waitrose Al Reem Island – inside Boutik Mall, Sky and Sun Towers
    Opening Times:
    Every day from 7am to 11pm.
    Meat Room: Yes, and with a fresh counter.
  • Waitrose Al Zeina – Al Raha Beach
    Opening Times:
    Every day from 8am to 10pm
    Meat Room: Yes – fridges only
  • Waitrose Avenue – Etihad Towers
    Opening Times:
    Every day from 8am to 10pm.
    Meat Room: Yes, and with a fresh counter.
  • Waitrose Eastern Mangroves
    Opening Times:
    Every day from 8am to 11pm
    Meat Room: Yes – fridges only

Waitrose is one of the most loved UK grocery chains. It is hard to describe the excitement on the face of some of my Expat friends when they discover that they can still shop as they did in London!

Generally, I tend to prefer quaint, local grocery shops – you know, those with all that amazing-looking food I never ate before! – but I must admit it: sometimes going for something you know is just what you need. Also, I am vegetarian, but for those who are fans of pepperoni pizza and crispy bacon, the meat room is something essential to the weekly shop!

Waitrose in the UAE does not seem to have an official website, hence I thought it would be useful to make a post with all locations and opening times I am aware of, however these hours might change on public holidays/religious holidays, so it is always good to take it with a pinch of salt on those days. If you have any more info to share, please comment below!

Aisle in Waitrose Al Zeina

Meat fridges in Al Zeina.

Fresh meat counters in Waitrose Al Reem.

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Royal Furniture – Local furniture shop.

Our frames bought at Royal Furniture.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Showroom in Abu Dhabi:
location & opening times

After moving to the UAE we suddenly found ourselves with an entire flat to furnish.
And quick.
I know what you are thinking: Ikea! And yes, that is definitely a good option.

But what if we want something a bit different, maybe with a bit of a local flavour?

Royal Furniture is in the Mina Port area.
When we turned at the roundabout to go to Mina Shopping Centre, we saw the huge glass showroom’s windows on our right and we decided to have a look.

The space is really big, and mostly sells sofas, dining sets and bedroom sets, as well as small items such as frames, vases, candles and so on.

The style of the furniture varies: some pieces are very classic, but they have many others which are very simple and modern.
They also have a range of fun children furniture, like beds in the shapes of race cars or with American football balls-shaped headboards.
The prices are affordable – and some items are really a bargain.

I personally like to go there to buy photo frames: usually they go for 5 or 10 AED each (which is less than 2 pounds) and they are really pretty: the ones we chose were in distressed black wood (think shabby-chic!) and they were perfect for the ‘antique’ prints we wanted to hang on our wall.

I like this showroom because it has a good range of furniture, both modern and classic, and their prices on things like vases, boxes, frames and general household décor are really good!

Frames at a bargain price.

Nice and affordable dining set.

A lot of sofas to choose from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A classic bedroom…

…and a more modern one.

The place is huge!

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Where to buy buttermilk in Abu Dhabi.

Yay! Whoopie pies for everyone!

I know, I know: this is an awfully specific blog post!!
But I do love to cook whoopie pies, and I thought other people might do too!

I was slightly worried when I realised that buttermilk is not exactly a common item in the local supermarkets.
I had hoped that the many British chains that have stores over here would sell it, but for some reason I never managed to find it there.
Great news though: the LuLu hypermarket inside Khalidiyah Mall has saved me from trying to make my own buttermilk (which I am sure would have resulted in a zombie outbreak).

They always have a good stock, but once I bought the last two, so if you don’t see it there, probably it is my fault. Sorry. I am sure they will restock it soon!

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Click HERE to read more about Expat info & tips and HERE to read about food shopping.
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Ripe Organic Markets

(image © ripeme.com )

Ripe is a company that offers seasonal, local and organic products from selected farms in the region.

The produces can be ordered fresh and within few days they can be collected in several locations around Abu Dhabi. (List of locations: here)

They also have weekly markets: in Abu Dhabi they set up their stalls every Monday, from 12pm to 3pm, inside Jones the Grocer, in Al Raha Garden plaza.

More info on their website, or writing to <markets@ripeme.com>

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Click HERE to read more about FOOD SHOPPING in Abu Dhabi.
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Little Majlis: Shop Online, Shop Local.

Image © Little Majlis

A little while ago I wrote a post about Etsy and all the fantastic handcrafted and vintage items that I can buy from local sellers.

To my delight, I have been told there is another wonderful online platform for Middle East-based artisans, designers, vintage lovers and crafty people! I am so happy to have the chance to explore more of the local talent!

Little Majlis is a specialist online market for makers and merchants of art, edibles, crafts and design.

According to Wikipedia, ‘Majlis’ is an Arabic term meaning “a place of sitting”, used in the context of “council”, to describe various types of special gatherings among common interest groups. (Source)

Aside from the many items available for purchase, on this site there is also a very useful calendar listing festivals, fairs, markets, art exhibitions and workshops: so much to do and see!

I just discovered this site but I already love it. (Better ask W to hide my wallet for a while!)

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