When the gates open at 7am this Friday for the official opening of the new season of The Ripe Market at Dubai Police Academy Park, visitors will enter 1,400-square-metres of beautifully landscaped gardens in what is now the market’s permanent home.
What visitors won’t see is any sign that this same green space was a huge gravel car park just 40 days ago. And that’s all down to a day-to-night effort by Ripe Market founder Becky Balderstone and a 100-strong team.
Having launched Ripe seven years ago in a bid to bring organic fruit and vegetable markets to communities across the UAE, Balderstone was keen to find a permanent home for the company’s weekly market.
A community space
“We wanted a more central location with accessible parking and a venue that we could design to ensure small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] could participate with minimal costs and effort,” explained the British expat.
She was keen to secure somewhere central in Dubai that could also become a new community space.
“The Dubai Police support a similar outlook to Ripe in supporting local SME businesses and offering a safe and engaging environment for the community to gather,” she says.
“We presented our plan to The Dubai Police and they agreed this was something they shared a vision and passion for.”
The go-ahead was granted and the race against the clock began. With only 40 days between approval and launch date to transform an underused gravel car park into a community space with landscaped gardens, walking paths, grassy areas and plenty of vegetation, it was a team effort.
“We had a lot of planning time before gaining access so that allowed us to plan for the minimal building time,” says Balderstone. “That paired with great support and advice from our office neighbours, Urban Landscapes, which meant we were equipped for the challenge.”
Building a community space was high on the agenda for many local companies, with Al Ghurair Group donating all the park’s palm trees and outdoor lighting coming courtesy of Global Light & Power.
Despite the time pressure, a team of 100 landscapers and gardeners managed to complete the project on time, with help from Balderstone’s husband James, who fortunately builds projects for a living.
“This accomplishment really brought our incredible team together and it is amazing to see the park in action.”
A new home
In keeping with Ripe Market’s original concept, food vendors, craft stalls, boutique clothing stands and organic fruit and vegetables make up the base of the project, but the permanent location allows for many new additions.
Animals also take centre stage. As well as a weekly petting zoo and adventure play zone for children, officers from The Dubai Police will be in attendance this weekend to host a K9 Dog show, offer pony rides and showcase a Police supercar display.
Visitors can also enjoy sunset hula hoop yoga provided by XYoga Dubai, free boxing classes by Find My Fit and sourdough bread-making workshops from Baker’s Kitchen, as well as special activities from partners’ Noon and Careem, plus lots of live music.
Flourish Flowers will get people in the festive mood with a wreath-making workshop and kids can get excited for Christmas by taking part in gingerbread house-decorating sessions organised by Playdates.
With more than 130 SMEs scheduled to participate every weekend and everything from delicious food concepts and locally made retail products to expertly sourced jewellery, fashion, home decor and arts and crafts on offer, The Ripe Market, Dubai Police Academy Park is sure to become a valuable addition to the Dubai community.