How to Start a Baqala or Grocery Store in Abu Dhabi
What is a Baqala?
The word Baqala is an ancient Arabic term used for grocery stores which sold fruits, vegetables, and seeds – directly translating as “what comes from the ground”. Abu Dhabi’s Development Vision 2030 saw the implementation of the Baqala initiative, improving the health, safety, and sustainability standards of grocery stores across the emirate. This project mandates that all grocery stores share the Baqala name with their unique names written in a smaller font for the purpose of differentiation between the stores. Therefore, all grocery stores in Abu Dhabi are called Baqalas.
Abu Dhabi’s Baqalas are required to maintain a standardized store design and facilities, this includes (but is not limited to) microwave ovens, quality coolers and refrigerators, store decorations, coffee-making stations, adequate security equipment, storage cabinets, staff uniforms, price tags, and cash registers.
The ADFCA’s (Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority) standards were to be implemented for all new and existing stores 6 years ago, in 2013. Stores which do not comply with the Baqala standards will not be allowed to operate, this was the case for those who did not meet the requirements on May 6th, 2013.
Why were Baqalas implemented?
The key purpose of this legislative activity was to eliminate the health hazards caused by the poor hygiene and sanitation present in most grocery stores. The Baqala system’s design and cleanliness enhanced customer experiences as well as the revenues of grocery stores in Abu Dhabi, these changes were later implemented in all of the emirates, including Dubai’s and Sharjah’s grocery stores.
How can I open my own Baqala in Abu Dhabi?
The ADFCA’s Baqala requirements are as follows:
- Branding & Logo
- Non-affiliated grocery stores must use a variant of the logo below, these stores are owned and managed by individuals.
Baqala Brand Logo Design (Image Source: ADFCA)
The logo shown above is an ADFCA (Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority) trademark and is subject to the UAE’s intellectual property laws. The ADFCA has the authority to grant the use of this logo to Abu Dhabi’s grocery stores. For details on brand guidelines, rules, and regulations – contact one of our specialist consultants!
The logo is available in five color codes present in the logo above (HTMLs below):
- (Optional) Affiliated grocery stores can use their own branded trademark if available,
Examples of affiliate grocery stores include:
- Co-operatives: managed and owned by members (consumer/food cooperatives).
- Forecourts, located in petrol stations.
- Multiples: hyper/supermarket-chains and convenience specialists.
- Independent retailers of franchises and symbol groups, using an established brand fascia.
- The guidelines for branding and design regulate:
- Vision and Mission statements
- Logo: description, size, color, font, design and usage
- Signage: shop signage, projector, window, safety, interior, and direction signage
- Uniform: shirts, trousers, shoes, caps, etc.
- Stationary: letterheads, fax templates, complimentary slips, notepads, envelopes
- Advertisements: leaflets, flyers, point of sale ads, outdoor ads
- Merchandising: pens, gifts, bags
- Contact us for more details regarding the Baqala Intellectual Property.
- Required Signboard Elements (images below)
English & Arabic Fonts for the Baqala Signboard (Image Source: ADFCA)
- Diavlo is the font for English
- GE SS is the font for Arabic
- The font must be White if used with #00262C background-color
- Other languages are not allowed
Signboard Layout and Coloring (Image Source: ADFCA)
- Trade names must include the type of store (grocery, supermarket, foodstuff, store, etc.)Signboard Layout and Coloring (Image Source: ADFCA)
- Background fascia color: #00262C
- The 1 active landline telephone number color: #4EB857
- If the store is a branch, it will be outlined in brackets after the trade name
E.g. Dubai Business Advisors (Branch)
Projecting Sign: Symbol & Dimensions (Image source: ADFCA)
- (Optional) projecting signage can be used for corner shops with 2 facades (image above).
- Projecting logo diameter: 600mm, made from strong aluminum + full powder coat
- Projecting sign box depth: 100mm
- The projecting logo must be cut into 10mm-thick acrylic fillings/in-fills (shown above)
- Colors will be achieved through pasted cut-out stickers on the brand logo
- The sign box must be sealed from water using rubber gaskets
- The projecting sign must have daylight fluorescent backlighting for both front and back sides
- Locating and Constructing your Baqala Premises
- Must comply with environmental, safety, pest control (against vermin and birds) requirements
- Must be protected from weather conditions such as flooding, storms, and raining (waterproofing)
- Compliance with Article 12, Regulation No. 6, 2010, regarding the minimum distance (5000mm) from other establishments/activities.
This aims to prevent health & safety hazards arising from nearby unsanitary business activities.
- Baqala Store Image Requirements:
- The external wires, cables, and electrical conduits must be covered by a PVC conduit (shown below)
PVC Conduit Example (image for reference)
- External AC compressors lower than 1200mm (distance from the ground) must be covered with a ventilated & powder-coated aluminum cage (shown below)
Ventilated & Powder-coated Aluminum Cage (image for reference)
- Baqala Storefront (Shop Front) Requirements:
- Undamaged, 10-12mm thick, and aluminum-framed glass must be used for the storefront
- Rubber, gaskets, and sealant must be of adequate condition to be used for both airproofing & waterproofing
- The aluminum glass-frame must be fixed firmly and not loosely
- Glass must be non-reflective and clear to provide full visibility into the store
- Cut-out vinyl stickers of the green Baqala logo (safety stripe) shall be stuck on the glass and doors at a 1200mm-height (image below
Baqala Safety Stripe (image source: ADFCA)
- Baqala Entrance Door Requirements:
- Glass must be non-reflective and clear to provide full visibility into the store
- Shop entrance should not display or shelve products
- 12mm-thick frameless glass
- Single doors must open for a minimum-width space of 900mm
- Double doors must open for a minimum-width space of 1600mm
- Plastic wind curtains are not allowed while automatic air curtains are required instead
Automatic Air Curtains (image for reference)
- The entrance must not have any obstructive promotional materials such as posters or stickers
- The entrance must be indicated with Baqala push and pull stickers (shown below), opening schedules are allowed to be displayed (100mm x 160mm dimensions)
Baqala Push & Pull Door Stickers (image source: ADFCA)
- Baqala External Wall and Column Requirements
- Cleanliness and uniformity of walls with high-quality paint (no stains, chalking, or blisters)
- (Optional) Marble or granite cladding must not have any chips or breakages + must be clean
- (Optional) Aluminum cladding must not be loose, it must be fully sealed and firmly fixed
- Aluminum cladding could also be used to cover surfaces which are not able to meet the cleanliness and quality requirements
- You will require an NOC from your landlord
- (Optional, recommended) Baqala Canopy Requirements:
- Canopies must be plain-colored and contain the Baqala logo
- The logo must have the following color codes (HTMLs):
If the above-mentioned colors are not available, the closest colors will be subjects for approval by the Relevant Authority.
- The shade must be clean and undamaged
- The structure must not be rusty, damaged, or incomplete
- The canopy must be suspended at least 2100mm away from the ground
- The canopy must be fixed between the glass door and the signboard
- The canopy must extend via folding or rolling, whether it be done electrically or manually, all options are applicable
Example of an Unacceptable Baqala Canopy (image source: ADFCA)
- (Optional) Baqala Telephone Booth Requirements:
- Must be accessible for public use
- The wiring must be fully covered
- Must be clean, undamaged, and firmly fixed on a wall at all times (image below)
Baqala Telephone Booth (image source: ADFCA)
- (Optional) Baqala Shutter Requirements:
- May require the NOC from your Landlord
- Shutters must roll vertically and have covered boxes
- They must not be horizontal
- Shutters must be undamaged, free of rust, and not have any missing parts
- Shutter paint must not be chalking, have blisters, or be dirty
- Shutters should have a ‘perforated vision’ design, subject for approval by Relevant Authorities
Acceptable and Unacceptable Shutters for Baqalas (image source: ADFCA)
- Baqala Floor Surface Requirements:
- Waterproof, impermeable, slip-resistant, washable, safe, and accommodative of drainage
- Sloped for drainages where required
- Made from full, homogenous, straight-edged, and heavy-duty porcelain tiles (image below)
- Minimum: 600mm long x 600mm wide and 10mm thick
- Neutral color
Example of an Acceptable Porcelain Tile (image source: ADFCA)
- The skirting must also be made of machine-cut, full-body, polished, and heavy-duty porcelain tiles
- The skirts must be 10mm thick, 600mm long x 100mm wide
- Neutral color
- Angles between floors and walls must be sealed and coated with washable & anti-bacterial grouting
- Baqala Ceiling Requirements:
- Washable & Neutral Colored
- Condensation, mold, dirt, and particle shedding-resistant
Example of Unacceptable Ceilings (image source: ADFCA)
- False ceilings must be used to cover electric and mechanical pipes, ducts, and other visual pollution
- Finish to finish distance between the floor & normal/false ceiling must be at least 2500mm
- False ceilings must be of a Neutral Color
- Made from plain aluminum tiles
- Coated with either: metal-clad fiberboard, glazed surface, dry-wall epoxy, plastic laminate, or plastic coating
- Gypsum products are not allowed for use as false ceilings
- The plain aluminum ceiling tiles must be uniformly-sized and in adequate condition
- Sized: 600mm long x 600mm wide x 0.7mm thick
Ceiling Tile Dimensions (image source: ADFCA)
- The angles between ceilings and walls must be covered and sealed to facilitate cleaning
- Overhead fittings and structures must prevent condensation and dripping while being easily washable
- Baqala Wall Shelving Unit Requirements:
- Cleanable, non-toxic, and corrosion-resistant materials should be used for the shelving units
- Wooden materials are not allowed
- The units must not be damaged or rusted at all times
- Shelving should be firmly and safely fitted, with no parts missing
- Unless used for inclined displays, shelves must be leveled
- Shelves must have back panels (image below)
Back-paneled Shelving (image for reference only)
- Gondola Unit Requirements:
- Shelve surface must be cleanable, non-toxic, and resistant to corrosion
- Must be of adequate condition/quality and durability
- Wooden materials are not permitted
Example of an Acceptable Gondola Unit (image source: ADFCA)
Example of an Unacceptable Gondola Unit (image source: ADFCA)
- The gondola units must remain undamaged and rust-free at all times
- The gondola units must be firmly fixed to hold products, without any missing parts
- Shelves must be level unless used for inclined displays
- Gondola units must have back paneling
- Gondola unit back panels have a maximum height of 1600mm
- Gondola shelves must be adjustable
- (Optional) Both sides of the metal grills must be chrome plated
(Optional) Powder-coated galvanized iron structure + off white color finish & 1400mm back height and transparent price channel (recommended). For optimal visibility, the gondola units should be perpendicular/parallel to the entrance of the Baqala.
- Baqala Checkout Counter Requirements:
- Minimum of 1 checkout counter, must be an ergonomically designed, efficient, and convenient work station
- Non-toxic, cleanable, and non-corrosive
- Wood materials are not permitted as per Article 50, Regulation No. 6, 2010
- All cables must be covered and distanced from all activities
- A minimum of 700mm must be cleared for each cashier’s workstation
- Front panel must be #00262C colored
- (Optional) HPL (High-Pressure Laminate) structures with granite, marble, or Corian worktops can be used
- (Optional) Aluminum structures can also be used
- Checkout counters should be placed near the exit door
- Confectionary racks can be fitted at an angle on the front panel
- Baqala Storage Requirements:
- Compliance with Articles ranging from 56-60, Regulation No. 6, 2010
- The temperature must be controlled and recorded to provide adequate storage conditions
- Stored food must be protected from direct sunlight
- Vehicles used as mobile storage facilities (Vans, cars, trucks, and trailers) for products are not allowed
- Mezzanine storage is not allowed unless it is integral to the structure of the building
- If mezzanine storage is used it must not be placed below 2500mm
- Storage Room Requirements:
- Flooring must be made of heavy-duty and anti-slip ceramic tiles
- If the room is exposed to the heat of the outdoor environment, you must isolate the storage room with heat-resistant roller blinds or HR film
- Window sills cannot be used for storage purposes, the windows should be sloped if applicable
- The room must be adequately illuminated/lighted
- The storage room door should be self-closing, non-absorbing, and cleanable
- (Optional) If applicable, unused corners of the Baqala could be used for an air-conditional storage room.
If you require more information regarding starting your Baqala in Abu Dhabi, contact us for advice and assistance with acquiring the licensing as well as all of the steps to ensure the successful market entry of your store!
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