I discovered Ripe Market towards the end of my time in Dubai; which is a shame, because I enjoyed the concept so much, that I went twice.
So what is it? Simply put, a weekly organic food market as well as art and crafts fair. To be honest, I am more interested in the clothing, jewellery, paintings et cetera than in the food. Mainly because I find a lot of the shops in Dubai cater towards luxury and designer labels, so I like it when I find items that are different. Held at Zabeel Park, it is a fantastic place and way to spend a Friday. The park impressed me during my first visit. Dubai is not exactly the greenest place on earth, let’s face it, the city is built in the desert, but the park is a lot bigger than I thought it would be and lush too – lots of grassy areas. The fair occupies a section of Zabeel Park and is open every Friday between 9 am to 3 pm. The entrance fee is next to nothing. If you’re new to Dubai, it’s important to note that the metro does not start running until about 1.30pm on Fridays, so if you want to visit the park, you can take a taxi or drive there yourself. I recommend a taxi to avoid having to drive around looking for a parking space.
On site, there are several great kiosks preparing freshly cooked meals, which are relatively cheap, approximately AED20 (shall we say about £3?) for a chicken burger, for instance. Organic ice cream and ice lolly stands, perfect for those warm Dubai days, are interspersed throughout the market. And there are other sweet treats to be found such as organic candy floss.
Not everything at the craft section is handmade locally, that much I can guarantee. However, there are some interesting pieces to be found if you take the time to look around. One of my favourite discoveries is Dumyé Dolls, gorgeous handmade eco-friendly rag dolls produced in Dubai. They were not at the market during my second trip, which was a shame as I really wanted to show them to my sister. I’m pretty sure that my nieces, as well as my own mother, would go nuts for them! Another company of interest to me was The Camel Soap Factory; locally produced handmade soap primarily made from camel’s milk. The soaps are a little pricey (about £5) if compared to the usual mass produced products. They were beautifully presented and smelled divine, and I was interested as both my sisters suffer from skin allergies, so we are always on the lookout for organic toiletries with ingredients their skin can tolerate.
We passed by a stall with a British lady selling beaded jewellery. My sister found a bracelet she quite liked and I pointed out to her that the beads looked exactly like Ghanaian beads. Turns out that they were indeed from Ghana, and a lot of the other jewellery was produced in West African countries.
For someone like me who is not exceptionally fond of shopping, I fell in love with Ripe Market. I feel somewhat saddened that I did not learn about it until a month before I moved back to the UK, but I do hope to return to Dubai sometime in the near future and I’m excited to see what changes will have occurred during my absence.