Grocery Store: All About Carrefour

For this post, I must rely on adjectives and flowery prose to help you visualize all of the special things about Carrefour. “Why?”, you ask… I was scolded, via the security guard, who told my husband to tell me, that I was not allowed to take pictures in the store. So, we have to create this post together; I will be as descriptive as I can and you must allow the words to form visions in your mind’s eye. Here goes…

Produce. The produce section looked like an international bazar. It was filled with colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables from a variety of other countries. One of my favorite features was oranges imported from Chile. They were bright orange with huge green leaves attached to the stems. They were quite tasty too. Each item was identified by a placard that presented information in three parts. The top of the placard had a picture of the item and the item name to the right of the picture. The middle of the placard displayed the flag of the origin country alongside the country name and the bottom listed the price of the item in dirhams. So far, we have not been disappointed with any of the produce we purchased.

Spices. The spice section was a complete departure from the run-of-the-mill shelves filled with jarred spices that you normally see. Instead, the spices were displayed on a square, tiered  platform, from the floor to about waist level, located in the center of an aisle. The height of the display increased from the outer layers to the inner layers of the square. This allowed spices in glass mason jars to sit on raise pedestals toward the center of the spice square and others to be displayed in the large burlap sacks that they arrived in on the outer parts of the square. All of the spices were live and filled that part of the grocery store with an invigorating aroma. There were trows available to scoop and bag your own blend of spices. Because the Persian Gulf is nestled between Africa and Asia, both continents influence the cuisine here. This spice section is a bit of a culinary dream.

Seafood. I saw fish I’ve never heard of before like Hamour, which is indigenous to this region. The presentation of fresh seafood at Carrefour was also new to me. This area of the grocery store was open air. There were no display cases or glass shields between customers and the food. If you wanted to, you could reach right into a block of ice and pick up a whole Salmon or Herring. The fish is whole…eyes, head and all. The prawns are in tact…legs, shells and all. You can ask to have your selections cleaned and/or fileted if applicable. We purchased prawns and Tilapia. When my husband asked if the Tilapia could be fileted, the worker jokingly replied, “Only big fish”. I’m guessing it’s harder to filet smaller fish. I stood by and watched the process. It’s an acquired skill indeed. Now, back to the presentation and storage of the seafood. The seafood is packed down in ice blocks. Imagine opening a box containing your favorite large electronic item; something like a flat screen TV or computer, visit to learn more about new tech. Now visualize the styrofoam with perforations for every nook and cranny of the item it encases. That’s what the seafood station looks like. A solid block of crushed ice that the fresh food lays in. As the ice melts, one of the workers refills, and repacks the ice using a trow and straight edge board.

Location. Carrefour stores are located all over Abu Dhabi and Dubai. There are a few locations conveniently occupying the bottom level of the mall. I hae personally shopped at the Bawabat  and Marina mall locations.

Price. Carrefour is affordable. For my western readers, I would say it is most like Walmart. They sell everything from grocery items to rugs, electronics and appliances.

Service. I’m not entirely sure if this is a service issue but it surely does not lend itself to the most efficient check out process. Two of the departments, produce and electronics, have specific rules regarding the actual purchase of products from that department. Let’s start with produce. You must take the items from Heavy Duty Racking, then you have to bag up the items you want and eyeball the weight as there are no scales for customers to use. Then you must take all of your produce to a counter and have them weighed and priced by store associates. Once you’re done, you place your items back in your basket and head to the main check out to pay. The process adds an extra step and requires you to “touch” that produce at least four times before leaving the store. Now, electronics is a bit different. All electronic items must be paid for in the electronics department. But, if the item is a small or large appliance, an associate must take the item to a kiosk and enter your warranty information. This is also an opportunity for them to try and up sell you on extended warranties. After the “warranty meeting”, you are able to check out. Let’s say you want to purchase electronics and grocery items. If you purchase the electronic item first, you must take your bag to the holding counter where they will catalog it and give you a retrieval ticket. Then you are free to shop for your groceries, purchase them and return to claim your other purchase. In my opinion, this is convoluted and a bit much.

See more pictures of Carrefour on our Facebook Page.

Carrefour located at Bawabat Mall
Carrefour located at Bawabat Mall

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