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Imbaba’s fish market: the journey of buying seafood in Cairo - Daily News Egypt

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Imbaba’s fish market: the journey of buying seafood in Cairo

Cairo’s famous fish market is witnessing a low turnout this Ramadan, as many Egyptians prefer meat and chicken for their iftar tables

Shopping for food is an arduous task. You spend hours invested in finding specific products and comparing their prices and quality. However, in Egypt, shopping for food is a multi-layered, and often adventurous, experience.

In order to find fresh, healthy fish in Cairo, one must go on a journey; a journey that’s filled with mixed feelings ranging between joy and misery.

The fish market is located in one of the most crowded neighbourhoods in Cairo: Imbaba. For 50 years, the market has been the main source of all seafood products in Cairo. It sells all amounts of different types of fish to individuals and restaurants daily.

The journey starts with trying to get to the market. In order for someone to get to the market, they has to go through the puddles of dirty water and sewage that surround it. For years, traders have sought the government’s help to clean the area, yet continue to be met with no response.

However, this hasn’t stopped people from going to the market. Known for selling the finest types of fish with the lowest prices, every morning the market is full of individuals buying their monthly supply of seafood products and restaurant owners buying large amounts of fish at wholesale prices.

This atmosphere does not last the whole year. Every Ramadan, those who rely on selling fish as a source of income struggle, as Egyptians prefer meat and chicken over fish for their iftar dishes. Thus, merchants suffer from a lack of trade flow.

According to many traders, ever since Ramadan started, people haven’t been showing any interest in buying fish. That has led many of them to sell the products with the prices they bought them for, in order to keep the fish from spoiling.

Currently, a handful of customers and vacant alleys are the theme of the market. “Our ultimate goal now is not to just make financial profit, but to not return home with any fish left for the next day,” one of them concluded.


All photos taken by Mohammed Oamr

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