Deira Clock Tower, a local landmark
ITP Images
Deira Clock Tower, a local landmark

Dubai completes revitalisation of traditional markets in push for heritage conservation

Dubai Municipality has announced the completion of a project to revive the traditional markets of Deira.

The project aims to revitalise the area’s traditional markets and reinforce its role as a major cultural and tourism attraction in the emirate, a statement said.

While preserving the character and historical importance of Dubai’s traditional markets, the project also adds several creative touches to the surrounding modern buildings to enhance the area’s historical ambience, the statement added.

According to Arabian Business, the initiative is part of the development projects approved by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in January.

The development of the Dubai markets was carried out in two phases, the first of which included the completion of the main information centre at the entrance of the Grand Souq in Deira.

A second centre built close to Al Ras Metro station offers tourist maps and information brochures on the  traditional markets and historical landmarks.

Work on the project included installation of shades, development of the floor and ceiling, installation of market entry signboards and billboards, facilitating market connectivity and visitor traffic movement, as well as installing seating areas. Street names and nameplates were changed to reflect the heritage and traditional spirit of the place.

The second phase of the traditional market development project included the addition of an Abra station opposite the historic Shindagha district in addition to allocating a bus stop to give easy access to tourists. These sites will be implemented in conjunction with the Deira Waterfront Development project.

Dawoud Al Hajri, director general of Dubai Municipality, said, "Dubai has witnessed significant leaps in its development over the past few decades and has become a global trading and business hub in a short period of time.

"The retail sector in the region is supported by a range of modern markets that are among the most prominent in the world and attract some of the world’s prestigious international brands. However, this drive for modernity has not diminished the importance of traditional markets, which have been at the heart of the city’s commercial and economic life.

“We received clear directives from HH 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," Al Hajri added.

The Dubai Municipality project aimed to preserve more than 220 historical buildings by renovating their facades and restoring their historical and architectural uniqueness.

The project also sought to enhance the urban spaces surrounding these buildings by modifying traffic routes to highlight the distinct character of the historic area.

The oldest commercial complex in Dubai was restored and rehabilitated following specialised studies focused on restoring the architectural authenticity of the markets.

The shops were renovated according to the general requirements of the commercial area.

Dubai Municipality said it is currently reviewing a comprehensive plan for the development of the entire historical areas in Deira and Bur Dubai. It also includes the launch of a smart application that offers a tour of the market and information on its most important heritage features.

The market is the largest, oldest and most important in the area thanks to its direct connectivity with the harbour on the creek that enables it to receive merchandise from cargo ships from Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Located along a narrow strip, the pedestrianised market featuring small shops has traditional air towers that cool the atmosphere. Large doors made of dark red wood add to the character of the place. The markets offer a wide range of merchandise including souvenirs, metal works, pots, trays, spices, perfumes, medicinal herbs, shawls and fabrics.