Hafa Souk wears a colourful look

SALALAH, July 2 – Hafa Souk wore an entirely new look on Tuesday with the setting up of tent shops on the sea front as well as on the main road side, giving an impression of some celebration marking the Khareef season which began on June 21. This is part of the ongoing preparations for the Khareef Festival, which is all set to start from July 11. Local people appreciated the Dhofar Municipality’s initiative, keeping in mind last year’s removal of old structures, surrounding the main souk, that housed all purpose shops ranging from readymade garments, perfumes, Omani turban (masar), Omani cap (kumma), traditional sticks and many other things of day-to-day use. “It was looking very deserted after the removal of the old structures. The souk is traditionally important and one of the top destinations in Salalah for visitors. With the setting up of red and blue tent shops the place is looking colourful and giving an impression of some festival,” said Ali Abdul Ghani al Jabri, who was seen looking for a tent shop for him.
According to a shopkeeper, more than 500 tent shops have been put up and there has been very good demand for them from all sorts of entrepreneurs. The municipality officials were seen handling allotment papers, as preference is being given to women entrepreneurs who deal in traditional stuff like food and beverages and dress materials. Most of the shops here are having home-made incense, cosmetics, perfumes and frankincense, for which Salalah is famous. Known also as Al Husn Souk due to its proximity with the Al Husn Palace, the place is Salalah’s signature location. So important it is that a visit to Salalah is not complete without visiting here and getting some authentic Dhofari frankincense.
It is a known fact that frankincense from Dhofar is one of the best in the world. For many in Salalah it is ‘frankincense souk’ (luban souk) due frankincense being the main trading item here. Ali al Jabri finds the tent shops good initiative for entrepreneurs and a very good job opportunity for the local people, as Khareef (monsoon) is the time when local people engage in all sorts of business activity and ultimately it gives a big boost to the country’s economy.
Al Jabri is planning to sell home-made perfumes from one of the tent shops he booked either for him or his wife. “Because our women have natural skill of perfume making and it has very good demand among the visitors from the GCC countries.” He is expecting good business due to the location as almost every Salalah visitor makes it to Hafa Souk once or twice during his/ her stay.
He admitted that he was not sure about anything of this scale happening at the Hafa souk and was really curious about the future plans for the place.
“These tent shops are not permanent, still the features are good and giving me a thought that it would add value to the Khareef season and the upcoming festival,” Ali said.
Pictures by Abdulrahim Subait