While on my recent trip to Sharjah on an invitation from the Sharjah Tourism Board, I visited the Friday Market at Fujairah. The colourful fruits and vegetables of this market were a sharp contrast to the grey Hazar Mountains which form the backdrop of the market. In Arabic, Hazar Mountains mean stone mountains. The shops were on both sides of the road and more or less sold similar produce of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Most of the shopkeepers spoke Hindi as they are from Bangladesh. Curious to know the origins of this market, I asked Romell our guide who told me that decades ago travelers would cross the desert in camel caravans. It is believed that behind the Hazar Mountains, they caught fish and preserved it using salt. This fish was sold in the Friday market that the locals would visit after their Friday namaaz. The market served not just as a grocery shopping venue but also encouraged catching up with friends.
The area around the mountains was also conducive to grow citrus fruits, bananas and dates which were sold in the market. As I walk from shop to shop, I see water melons, musk melons, plums, cherry tomatoes, peppers where the yellow bell peppers are milder in taste compared to the smaller red ones, raw mangoes, sweet potatoes and fresh cut coconut and sugarcane in transparent plastic packets. There are some shops selling carpets and pottery as well.
As the weather got chilly, corn on cob freshly roasted or boiled in front of you tempted me. In one shop I spotted chestnuts which could either be roasted or boiled and served to you. In another there were date palm trunks without leaves. On asking how they were used, the shopkeeper informed me that Emirati people relish making a vegetable dish with potato from the inner core of the trunk. Even the flowers of the date palm tree were sold in the Friday Market as they are edible.
I even managed to find a shop selling dehydrated salted fish and dehydrated milk preserved with salt in the form of small white balls. I found the Friday Market of Fujairah interactive with my conversations with the friendly shopkeepers and the produce fresh and local.
I was invited by Sharjah Tourism Board and Air Arabia to Sharjah.