An emirati couple buys toys for their children from Lulu Hypermarket at Mushrif Mall in Abu Dhabi as part of preparations for Eid Al Adha. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Dubail/Sharjah: With public attention focused mostly on the malls participating in the 24-hour shopping extravaganza for the Eid in Dubai celebrations this year, a number of souq operators are feeling left out and are feeling the impact of lesser tourists visiting their shops.

“Last year was a bit busier, there were more footfalls compared to this year. There are lesser tourists and residents coming to Gold Souq now,” Vishal Soni, in-charge of one of the shops at Gold Souq in Naif, told Gulf News.

When asked if they have any special promotions or if they could extend opening hours this Eid like some selected malls, they said: “For souqs it’s not possible as we’re an open market. We’re working extended hours already, almost 11 hours a day, and seven days a week,” Sanjay Joshi, a salesman at Paris Gems, told Gulf News.

“The malls can do it because they operate on closed doors, they have security. We don’t have that here,” Soni said.

Last year, tourists mainly from Europe, Russia, and China were the constant visitors of the souqs. Salesmen have noted a significant drop in visitors due to the fact that city malls and tour operators provide tough competition for them.

“The market is very slow. There are those who look, but often don’t buy. So authorities should also include the souqs in their promotions and events,” Nirmit, a salesman at Al Marari Jewellery, said.

In Sharjah, scheduled Eid celebrations revolve mainly around its tourist spots and busiest malls. Sharjah Central Souq and Gold Souq have likewise noticed a decline in customers and tourists before the Eid weekend.

“We are not getting enough promotion by the authorities to attract tourists or new customers,” said Shahid Nazeer who works at a pashmina shop at the Central Souq. “The regular customers which are either local or Lebanese are also less in numbers this Eid,” added Nazeer.

In addition to the lack of local customers, the number of tourists visiting the souq has also declined. “Chinese tourists were very popular at the souq in the past years, but they don’t come anymore because they don’t hear about the souq or the area of the souq,” added Nazeer who highlighted the importance of a better souq management. Along with no promotions and advertising of the souq’s traditional shops and products, many shop keepers argue that the lack of Eid decorations and lights give the centre a gloomy mood. “There is no difference in the souq between the normal days and during Eid,” said Ravi Chhatari, a worker at Al Sadem Jewellers at the souq. Workers at the small silver shop located between the central and gold souq explained that while business at the store is slower this year, Eid days make no difference to the number of sales they make.