26 July 2006

Sharjah Blue Souk

When J's kids come into town, the Gameboy-mad elder insists that we take him to the Blue Souk in Sharjah to spend interminable hours scouring every electronics shop for games. Then he has to price them in every shop to make sure that he's getting the best deal. I think that we're going to limit him to less than 40mins from now on - it's an agonising process!

The Blue Souk is fun with overseas visitors - but be warned, they observe the 1pm closing, so the best time to go is about 10am - except during Ramadan when it's anyone's guess as to when it will be open!

Two parallel buildings connected by overhead walkways. Upstairs the shops are mostly filled with carpets and the walkways are lined with souvenir stalls. On the ground floors, there are predominantly jewellers, boutiques and electronic shops.

We usually combine the Blue Souk visit with a trip to the Sharjah Arabian Wildlife Center, before returning home with tired and happy visitors who are always thrilled to see a little more of the UAE than the construction.


BuJ said...

i really like this souk.. it's actually called Al Souq Al Markazi or the Central Souq.

i have spent many an afternoon in my adolescent youth in that place (when it was new).. loads of fun and designed very very elegantly.. the architect is a genius.. because NO a/c has been used in the main bits.. all done by convection and the weird thing is that u don't feel too hot even in the summer.

i wonder who's the architect?

it's so sustainable and yet so beautiful and all built at least 20 yrs ago.

nzm said...

Hey Buj

Thanks for the extra info - I knew that it was called Central Souk as the signs out the front say that, but I wasn't aware of the Al Markazi name. Is there an English translation for that?

Not airconditioned - are you serious? The architect is truly a master - it always is so cool!

I love going there - while others are in the shops, I'm outside just staring at the buildings and all the little interesting features!

Desert Lady said...

Just a quick note to say i'm loving the new look!!

Must dash though, i've got lots of catch up reading to do!!!

nzm said...

Thanks DL - catching up on all the goss after your vacation, ay? :-)

Mise said...

I've been there many times and I love that it still has the Souq feeling about it ...and the Natural History Museum & Desert Park is like an oasis in Sharjah ....I would imagine that large numbers of people don't even know of its existence ...

Shannon said...

Love the carpets! I wish they were less expensive so I can have them shipped here!

nzm said...

mise - the Natural History Museum and the Desert Park are under-promoted for what they are - just fantastic. I would love to blog about them and show people what they're about, but unfortunately they have a strict no photography rule in place, which is understandable because you can imagine how the camera flashes would disturb the animals. Next time I go there, I'll just take some shots of the outsides of the buildings and put together a piece on it.

Shannon - the carpets are just gorgeous here, but you do have to be careful that you're getting the real deal. A fun place to bargain for them is a place called the Friday Markets which is a row of open air carpet shops lined for about half a kilometre on the main road between Dubai and Masafi. We picked up our rugs for our apartment there, and we love them. The pure silk ones are just so soft - but naturally are higher in price because of their superb quality.

Taunted said...

I've not been to the Blue Souk, one of these days I will get there tho.

Was at The Natural History Museum & Desert Park on Thursday, hardly anyone about, and a good couple of hours out for the princely sum of AED30!!

Some of the animals do seem bored though, especially the rodents, walking up and down next to the glass is (apparently) a sure sign of bordom and mental problems . Apparently.

nzm said...

That's the thing about the Arabian Park - it's a very inexpensive entry fee - 30dir per family, and there's hardly anyone there! Once, when we visited, there was a group of schoolkids, and that's the most people that we've seen.

Yes - animals in cages do go crazy, and you can tell that from the rodents, the honey badger and the foxes, but at least everything is clean, spacious and the animals aren't being neglected. There's also a great breeding program taking place further up the road in the breeding centre which isn't accessible to visitors.