SHARJAH // Ayesha Lakmali was a regular at the old Souq Al Jubeil where she would stock up on fruit, vegetables and fish – all the while dreading the smells and the crowds.
The Al Buheira resident made the short trip along the corniche once a week to pick up fresh produce not available in supermarkets, even though the cleanliness of the souq left a lot to be desired.
As she walked the spacious corridors of the new market, opened a short distance away from the old souq at a cost of Dh195 million, the air was noticeably odour free.
“The old market was crowded, lacked proper ventilation and was smelly,” the 25-year-old Sri Lankan said.
Palestinian Fadi Abu Zaid moved his butchery to the new souq after eight years in the old location.
“I am happy with the set-up. We work in front of the customers and they see what is being done to their meat in front of their eyes,” said the 32-year-old, who was impressed with the amenities.
“For us, the disposal of our trash in a proper and hygienic way keeps the place clean and odour free.”
Designed in a traditional Islamic architectural style, the new Souq Al Jubeil is spread across 37,000 square metres and houses 370 stores selling fresh fish, meat, poultry, vegetables and fruits.
“The ground floor is divided to three sections, one for vegetables and fruits, which holds 212 stores, the meat and poultry section holds 67, while 91 stores sell fish,” said Saif Al Suwaidi, director of Sharjah Public Works Department.
Ahmad Jumaa made the journey down the E11 from Abu Dhabi to see the new souq for himself. The Emirati could not resist buying fresh fish and locally grown vegetables as he wandered through the corridors.
“The display of the fresh fish is so appealing that I had to buy some as well as some vegetables for my family,” the Al Shahama resident said.
His friend, Mohammed Ibrahim who lives in Al Talaa in Sharjah, was happy to see the market retain its traditional look and feel.
“It’s very convenient and more spacious, yet it still holds the feel of a traditional souq.”
Located in the heart of Sharjah city the souk overlooks the creek, allowing local fishermen to haul in their nets easily and auction off their catches while they are still fresh.
“It’s very organised and clean. It’s much better than the old one, I must say,” said Emirati Ahmad Saif, adding that finding an empty spot among the 700 parking spaces was easy.
“There was no trouble in finding a spot, unlike the old souq,” he said.
Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah’s Ruler, will officially open Souq Al Jubeil in a ceremony on Friday.