Al-Arsah Market or so-called Souq Al-Arsah attracted the most famous and rich merchants from India, Iran, Pakistan, Persia and other regions. Even in the ancient times, one could visit Al-Arsah in order to find the rarest products delivered here from all around the world. Bedouins used this market as well, in order to bring coal from the desert, and change it to fabrics, dishes, and food. That’s why this market was called Al-Masdouf for many years in a row, which means ‘the coal market’. Currently, Al-Arsah market is the most ancient trading place in the UAE, where one can immerse into the colorful atmosphere of the Oriental life.
Souq Al-Arsah: traveling to the ancient times
‘Arsah’ words mean ‘square’ or ‘open space between the houses’ in the Arabic language. That’s why traditional markers of this region received the very same name. Many centuries ago merchants were putting their tables and tents close to each other, choosing the locations closest to the buildings. It was impossible to stay under the sun throughout the day, thus the merchants decided to make roofs from the palm leaves. Leaves allowed creating shadow, however, the heat was still killing everything. The merchants had to close their tents during the hottest hours, making a break from 13:00 till 17:00 every day.
No doubt that the structure of the market and their appearance changed throughout the years. Currently, Al-Arsah takes the entire area of a building that was created at the beginning of the 20th century. Even though it was renovated just a couple of years ago, and the workers used only authentic materials and ancient technologies in order to save the charm of the market. Tall walls of the market are made from the coral brick, the doors are made from carved wood, while the roof was created from wooden sticks wrapped with palm leaves.
The atmosphere in Al-Arsah is so colorful and bright that one may think they could travel in time getting to the medieval market square. There are more than 100 small shops with unique handmade products delivered from all around the Middle East and Africa.
From the Oriental sweets to Persian carpets
Al-Arsah Market is called the heart of the old city of Sharjah. Immediately after entering the market, one can make a travel in time, going right to the vibrant market square from the ancient times. Currently, there are more than 100 shops selling all kinds of souvenirs and products. You definitely need to take a camera with you because each shop looks like an ancient museum.
The market offers unique collections of the handmade items. You can find famous Persian carpets, carved wooden chests for clothes, colorful dishes, and a huge variety of other items. One can spend a lot of hours simply trying to discover the real charm of each of them. Many sellers are ready to share the secrets of their products, while the majority of them is involved in the process of production, following the ideas of their fathers and predecessors.
One needs to pay a lot of attention to jewelry and accessories. There’s a huge number of sophisticated products made from gold and silver, while you can always ask for a discount or bargain with the seller. There’s a vast collection of semi-precious stones, while the real fans of handmade stuff will always find something made in the pure Oriental style.
Furthermore, the market offers not only locally made items but a huge number of products from different regions. One can find something from India, Indonesia, Pakistan and even Africa. Just look around, and check astonishing dresses for women, handmade tablecloths, antique items and even the most basic souvenirs.
The Oriental markets are famous not only for their clothes. Here you can find a huge variety of spices and traditional sweets. You can always taste all of them before buying something. Furthermore, while walking in Al-Arsah, one can try traditional Arabic coffee and Soleimani Tea.
You need to remember that people from the Oriental world respect their history and traditions. For example, people are used to bargaining here, and you can see that it’s a real art, while looking at the local people discussing the price. Don’t forget that all prices are not real, and you need to ask for a discount. Sometimes you can get your item for 70, 50 and even 30% of the initial price.
Address: Corniche Road, Sharjah, UAE
Working hours: from Saturday till Thursday – 9:00 – 21:00, Friday – 16:00 – 21:00.
The market is closed on Sunday