Hundreds of Omani fishermen along with an equal number of fishmongers are in an upbeat mood as the iconic Muttrah fish, fruits and vegetables market is all set to open, after nearly four years since it was closed down to give space for a new mixed use property.
Muscat Municipality, which is the authority of this mammoth project, just prior to the Eid holidays announced that it would soft-launch the new fish market in Muttrah after the holidays.
Sulaiman al Jardani, a fish merchant from Sidab, said the new market will set new standards in fish trading while giving the customers a unique experience.
“We were nowhere for nearly three years after the old market was closed down for the new project to come up. We had lots of issues in the temporary market and now we are happy that the past issues will be things of the past, and we are upbeat about the opening”.
The new market — which consists of 136 fish selling platforms in 1,410 m2, 36 cutting platforms, 48 platforms for selling vegetables and fruits, and 8 meat and poultry shops — has been provided with the latest equipment that provides a high degree of food safety. And it had ambitious plans of applying the International Food Safety Code (HACCP) within one year from the date of operation.
Besides giving employment to former market workers, the market will provide opportunities for several new vendors as well as servicemen along with tenants of fishermen and vegetable traders while the customers are in the prime focus. To serve the visitors better, about 140 parking spaces have been provided around the market complex.
Muscat Municipality considered replacing the old market to attract more tourists to experience Oman’s authentic marine tradition. The civic body has left no stone unturned in providing a unique visitor experience in a suitably iconic building while maintaining the functionality required by fishermen and fish processors.
“The implementation of the project is part of the municipality’s vision to create new infrastructure projects that provide services to the public and also highlight modern architectural features”, a senior official at Muscat Municipality said in a pre-opening statement.
The old market, which served the Omani populace for nearly three decades, was shifted to the present temporary market four years ago.
The new edifice, which has been constructed on an area of more than 2,200 square metres, boasts of a curved shape and textured concrete structural walls, and the beautiful, swirling aluminium and steel shading canopy includes areas for fish processing and sale, vegetable market, meat market, cafe and a restaurant. Additionally, the market will also have fish landing, refrigeration, preparation, packaging and restaurant facilities.
Snohetta, a globally renowned Norwegian architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and brand design company, is the architect of the ambitious project. BuroHappold, an international multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, is responsible for the mechanical and electrical engineering, structural engineering, civil engineering and facade engineering.
CIG Architecture is responsible for creating the 3D production model of the roof, including the 3D bending of 2,400 aluminium lamellas and the 3D bending of the steel pipes. In addition, engineering, production and on-site assembly support of the entire canopy is taken care of by CIG Architecture.
The builders said that the key elements have made some complex geometries, which had to be solved to produce buildable details that work in this maritime and earthquake-prone environment. While the majority of the internal spaces are only moderately controlled, the fish is displayed on bespoke selling platforms which include an embedded extra-low temperature chilled water system to preserve fish over the course of the day.
“The importance of the new market stems from its strategic position at the beginning of the vibrant maritime route in Muttrah, close to the Sultan Qaboos tourist port, the waterfront project and Muttrah traditional market; all of which could enhance the new market and make it a tourist and cultural spot for the Sultanate.”
The new market aims at offering the best services for both traders and workers of the market, and to provide a healthy environment equipped with the necessary tools and equipment that ensure a high degree of food safety, taking into account the international standards and specifications when designing it.