Dubai Municipality completes renovation of Deira traditional markets

Traditional souqs are upgraded in an effort to boost tourism

Spices on sale at Dubai Souq in Deira. Jumana El Heloueh / Reuters
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Renovation of the traditional markets in Deira has been completed, it was announced on Saturday.

Plans to revive the markets and preserve their distinct architecture, and in turn the UAE’s national heritage and cultural identity, were part of development projects approved by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in January.

More than 220 historical buildings had their facades renovated by Dubai Municipality. Urban areas surrounding those buildings were also improved to enhance the area’s overall aesthetic.

Dawoud Al Hajri, the municipality’s director general, said that though Dubai has grown into a global trading and business hub, the drive for modernity has not diminished the importance of the emirate's traditional markets.

“We received clear directives from Sheikh Mohammed to give special attention to these traditional markets and restore the prestige they enjoyed over the decades, which gave them an important place in the emirate's history,” he said.

The renovation was executed in two phases. First, information centres were built at the entrance of the Grand Souq and near Al Ras Metro station. Shading and seats were installed, floors and ceilings were renovated and signs were updated.

Next, an Abra station was build opposite Shindagha district, and a bus stop was added to give tourists easy access to the historic section of Dubai.

The municipality is now reviewing plans to develop other areas in Deira and Bur Dubai. These plans include enhancing the market floors and installing light fixtures as well as the launch of a smartphone app that offers a tour of the market and information on its features.

Deira's traditional souq was the emirate’s main commercial market from its establishment in 1850. It is the largest, oldest and considered the most important in the area because it is directly connected with the harbour on the creek, enabling it to receive merchandise from cargo ships from Africa and the India.

Located along a narrow strip, the pedestrian market features small shops selling souvenirs, ports, trays, spices, perfumes and fabrics. The market is cooled with traditional air towers and features large doors made of dark red wood. The municipality last renovated the area in 1998.