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Abu Dhabi traditional souq stirs enthusiasm

Residents want family-friendly events while tourists want taste of Emirati traditions

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: During a recent survey, residents and visitors across the capital expressed their enthusiasm regarding a traditional souq to be built at the historical gateway to Abu Dhabi, the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City announced in a statement sent on Sunday.

The souq will form part of a 150,000 square metre mixed-use leisure and retail destination that be developed in partnership with private investors and developers. It is expected to be located opposite the Al Maqta tower, between the Shaikh Zayed and Al Maqta bridges, and will link to the Khalifa Park and Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

According to the municipal statement, 80 per cent of the development will comprise retail outlets, as well as entertainment, leisure and dining options. A traditional Emirati souq that showcases and sells high-quality handicrafts will be the core of the project.

The statement added that a survey was undertaken in May to garner residents’ feedback about the upcoming project. Nearly 1,300 individuals, approached at malls, the airport and various tourist sites, responded.

Among them, 97 per cent felt that the souq should be at the heart of the development, highlighting the culture and heritage of the capital at its gateway. Residents also placed high value on the architecture of the structure, and said an attractive design would draw visitors.

About 89 per cent of the tourists surveyed, and 79 per cent of residents, said they would visit the development to get a taste of Emirati traditions. On the other hand, nearly 80 per cent of residents favoured the inclusion of more family-friendly events, compared to 66 per cent of tourists.

In addition, 92 per cent of responded stressed that the souq feature galleries and exhibitions to outline Abu Dhabi’s evolution.

Experts responding to the municipal survey also said that the souq and its design should reflect the three areas that make up Abu Dhabi emirate, namely, Abu Dhabi mainland, Al Ain and the Western Region.

Asked about the investment value of the project, Rashid Bin Ali Al Omaira, investments and assets adviser for the General Manager’s Office at Abu Dhabi Municipality, earlier told Gulf News that others of a similar scale are valued at more than Dh1 billion.

“At the outset of every project, we undertake research among relevant stakeholder groups, such as residents, tourists, investors and industry experts, to get their feedback on what amenities and facilities are most beneficial and desirable. This helps to ensure our projects are a success and cater to the needs of users,” Al Omaira said.

“We will be sharing these valuable insights with private sector developers and investors bidding for this project so that they can use it to guide the various elements of the development,” he added.

The official earlier revealed that the deadline for submitting bids is September 10.