PHOTOS: Tales from Sharjah's iconic Central Souq

PHOTOS: Tales from Sharjahs iconic Central Souq
BLUE AND GOLD... While it's known as the 'Blue Souq' for the colour of its outer tiling work and dome, the Central Souq is transformed beautifully by ambient lighting at night.

(Photos by M.Sajjad)



by

Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Sat 8 Oct 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 9 Oct 2016, 9:07 AM

As a Sharjah resident for over 10 years, I always considered the Central Souq - located between King Faisal Road and Khalid Lagoon - as merely a place my mother used to drag me to buy gold, abayas and different gifts for our family and relatives back home.
During my countless visits to the emirate's iconic landmark, marked by my mother's long and deadly tours, I never stopped for a second to admire the beauty of this place that houses items and artefacts dating back to hundreds of years.
Through its 600 shops, one side of the souq is dedicated to numerous gold shops, while the other features anything from clothes, traditional garments, modern jewellery and electronics. Little stores upstairs sell a variety of items such as silver accessories, handmade rugs and Kashmiri scarves, antiques and home ornaments.
Built in 1978, the Central Souq, also known as the Blue souq for the colour of its domes, has been considered the perfect place for residents and visitors to haggle for the best deals on items rarely found in other places.
Jayesh Brajapati, customer at an antiques shop, would agree. He was bargaining with the seller Mohammed Khuram to give him a cheaper rate on a traditional necklace he needs for the ongoing Hindu festival Navratri, celebrated over nine days. "He's asking me for Dh200, but I want it for Dh50," said Brajapati, adding he visits the souq at least twice a year to buy accessories and antiques during a festival.
"I visit a number of shops before I buy something. Getting the best price depends on your negotiating power," laughed Brajapati. "They give me a price, and I bargain for 50 per cent less. It works all the time!"
While antiques at Khuram's shop sometimes reach up to Dh3,000, especially on items that are more than 500 years old, Abdul Basit has some artifacts priced $4,000 (Dh14,680). "This piece from Afghanistan is centuries-old," said Basit, pointing at a small, ancient Oud stand.
He showed a coin holder from Afghanistan worth $2,000 (Dh7,340). "Most of my customers are French and Iranians and they are fascinated with these items," he said, noting that the artifacts are purchased from museums in Afghanistan and sold in different countries, including the UAE.
For Katarzyna Adamiec, a Polish tourist who has been to the souq twice, it's the perfumes, oils and handmade Kashmiri scarves that make the place for her. "I love it. I love the souq, the culture, and the environment. and it's cheap," she laughed, as she packed gifts for her friends.
"When I bought perfumes and oils last time, my friends asked me about them because they're long lasting and smelled great. So I'm taking them some more this time," she said.
Upon leaving the place, I now look at this tranquil spot with more admiration as it stands strong after almost 40 years and holds a million stories I had never looked at.
sherouk@khaleejtimes.com

CENTRAL SOUQ – paintings are displayed on an art shop inside the Central Souq lactated at Al soor area in Sharjah – Photo by M.Sajjad
CENTRAL SOUQ – paintings are displayed on an art shop inside the Central Souq lactated at Al soor area in Sharjah – Photo by M.Sajjad
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD... The local fascination with all things gold is on display at this jewellery shop.
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD... The local fascination with all things gold is on display at this jewellery shop.
BELOVED LANDMARK... One of Sharjah’s instantly recognisable and popular landmarks is also a bustling one.
BELOVED LANDMARK... One of Sharjah’s instantly recognisable and popular landmarks is also a bustling one.
MAGIC CARPETS... What’s a traditional souq without the carpets this region is famed for? Anas Noor, a shop owner from Afghanistan, displays stunning handmade carpets at his shop inside the Central Souq.
MAGIC CARPETS... What’s a traditional souq without the carpets this region is famed for? Anas Noor, a shop owner from Afghanistan, displays stunning handmade carpets at his shop inside the Central Souq.
FRAGRANCE FROM THE PAST... Abdul Basir from Afghanistan shows off a 400-year-old Afghani oud stand at his antique shop.
FRAGRANCE FROM THE PAST... Abdul Basir from Afghanistan shows off a 400-year-old Afghani oud stand at his antique shop.
TILING A STORY... The blue ceramic tilework gives the souq its distinctive design and character.
TILING A STORY... The blue ceramic tilework gives the souq its distinctive design and character.
TOURIST HAUNT... The souq is a hot favourite with international tourists; two British visitors shop for scarves here.
TOURIST HAUNT... The souq is a hot favourite with international tourists; two British visitors shop for scarves here.
OLDER THAN YOU... An antique figurine that’s priced at thousands of dirhams — the souq is full of these ancient artefacts.
OLDER THAN YOU... An antique figurine that’s priced at thousands of dirhams — the souq is full of these ancient artefacts.
A BEAUTIFUL PRAYER ... Bangladeshi Tuhid ul Anwar holds a unique Misbaha — or the Tasbih — of natural stones at his shop.
A BEAUTIFUL PRAYER ... Bangladeshi Tuhid ul Anwar holds a unique Misbaha — or the Tasbih — of natural stones at his shop.

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