ZAINAB AL NASSRI –
The Bahla souq restoration work that began two years ago has finally been completed. After completing the work, the Ministry of Heritage and Culture handed possession of the 142 shops back to its owners, with a request: “Please preserve this important landmark”.
The souq walls, originally built with mud bricks, were repaired by shopkeepers after they started crumbling. These repairs had partially marred the look of the place.
A statement from the ministry said it had an “obligation to have the souq restored” because it reflects the true Omani traditional life and “living proof” of ancient architecture.
The work on reviving the souq began with the removal of collapsed walls and replacing them with ‘special adobe’ bricks ones. Doors and windows were rebuilt in traditional style.
Traditional materials such as palm trunks, wood and Daoun were used for supporting the roofs. The exterior and interior walls were plastered in a traditional manner with sarooj mud.
The souq now has a water drainage system for diverting water in the event of heavy rain or flooding. In the eighties, the walls and roofs had suffered extensive damage because of flooding.
The restoration team comprised specialised and experienced local and Tunisian experts.
Spanning an area of 4,493 square metres, the souq is considered one of the important landmarks on the World’s Heritage list as its construction goes back to the second quarter of the 19th century. It is the “main reference” for the people of Bahla as well as visitors for different goods, including traditional products, handicrafts and spices.