Souq Al Shanasiyah will be rebuilt on Bank Street in Sharjah after its ancient foundations were detected during a survey conducted over 2,500 square metres using ground-penetrating radar. Image Credit: Shurooq

Sharjah: The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has commenced construction work to rebuild Souq Al Shanasiyah, a historical souq situated at the Heart of Sharjah, one of the largest heritage developments in the region.

The souq will be rebuilt on Bank Street in Sharjah, based on the foundations detected through the survey conducted using ground-penetrating radar and the excavation and exploration works are under way with the support of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

The survey and excavation works cover an area of 2,500 square metres and are coordinated by the Sharjah Ruler’s Court in collaboration with Shurooq and with technical support from the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information’s Directorate of Heritage and Directorate of Antiquities.

Led by Prof Hanai Sasaki and Professor Emeritus Tatsuo Sasaki from Japan, the non-intrusive ground radar survey of the area showed the remains of the souq. Construction work will continue round the clock and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year.

Yousuf Al Mutawa, Manager of Heart of Sharjah, said that the reconstruction of Souq Al Shinasiyah is a project of special significance for the Heart of Sharjah Management, as it connects Souq Sagr in Al Shuwaiheen area with Souq Al Arsa in Al Marijah area. In the 1950s Souq Al Shinasiyah was a vital area for trade exchange and point of convergence for traders coming from neighbouring countries. He added that the new souq would resemble the old image that exists in the memory of Sharjah’s residents and visitors who knew the souq with its old-fashioned architectural design.

Al Mutawa added: “Upon completion in the next few months, Souq Al Shinasiyah will be a heritage and trading landmark that attracts visitors and tourists, linking the past with the present and building bridges of cultural and heritage communication among generations. The souq will introduce the authentic history of Sharjah and its strong decades-long presence in trade, social, and cultural life. It will also increase trading activities in the area which will include many unique souqs and stores.”

He clarified that the spaces which will be available for lease in the new market will be unique opportunities for heritage enterprises, especially for young entrepreneurs who wish to enter the business world.

The new Shinasiyah Souq will feature heritage design, extending over an area of 5,872 square metres with 18 varied stores. The items on display will be predominantly heritage products, including handicrafts, traditional costumes, souvenirs, Islamic prayer beads, antiques, incense, perfumes, dates, and traditional sweets. The souq will have restaurants and cafés, in addition to parking spaces.

The souq was named Shinasiyah after the traders coming from Shinas — a coastal town in northern Oman close to the UAE borders - who used to visit the market for the exchange of commodities. The market was a vibrant and bustling commercial hub until it disappeared due to urban expansion works in the surrounding area.

The Heart of Sharjah was recently registered in the tentative list of World Heritage Sites by Unesco, in an impressive achievement that affirms the significance of archaeological and historical heritage in the UAE. Once listed in the Unesco World Heritage Site, the international organisation will protect the site and help in maintenance when needed. In addition, a Unesco-listed world heritage site will be introduced and promoted all over the world and will be positioned on the world tourism map.