A little away from the famous Wahiba Sands and in the midst of the A’Sharqiyah dessert, is one of Oman’s busiest and famous markets – Sinaw Souq. These souq gives its visitors an opportunity to buy a variety of things ranging from fresh fruits, organic vegetables to toys, clothes and traditional Bedouin jewellery. Located in the Mudaybi willayat, Sinaw is said to be one of the most important markets in the eastern region of the Sultanate.
Many of the sellers at the souq are known throughout the region and across the gulf. Today, the souq has become a major tourist attraction of Sinaw along with the many other archaeological and historical sites in the area. Every morning, the market explodes into a vibrant colourful display of sellers, buyers, visitors and products. The goods sold at the market are mostly locally sourced but also sold are goods imported from around the globe.
The souq, like many others in the country dates back many decades. The location and structure of the current is much newer although the existent of this souq goes back generations. The current Sinaw Souq that we see now was built in 1976 and is located in the centre of the city area. The local government developed souq and the building around it to better equip it for the sellers and make it more accessible for its visitors. An extension in the following years was also added for the sale of fruits, vegetables and fish. The buildings provide shade, have electricity and access to water throughout the souq with doors painted in bright green. The organised and throughful renovation of the souq makes it easier for shoppers to move through the market without inconveniences.
When entering the souq, it is systematically divided into two parts. One section of the souq caters to sellers selling non edibles like trinkets, kitchenware’s and silver. Here is perfect for those that want to witness the making of traditional Omani silver jewellery with many silversmiths hammering, twisting and moulding silver to make jewellery, cutlery. This is the perfect place for those looking to buy silver jewellery or souvenirs along with other handicrafts such as daggers and swords. This is the perfect place to buy a novely yet traditional Omani dagger at reasonable rates.
The second and newer part of the souq is futher segregated for the sale of fresh fish and meat and another section for fruits, vegetables and other fresh produce. The products sold at the market are brought in daily by the fishermen, butchers and farmers from around the area. A part of the souq is used for the auction of livestock like chickens, cows, goats and camels.
The market is beautiful and packed with people especially on Thursdays which is their main market day. Bedouin women come from different regions of the country to buy clothes, shoes, household accessories and sewing tools at cheaper prices. The Bedouins travel from faraway places like Duqm, Masirah, Mahoot and Al Ashrah to buy goods such as meat, fish, fresh and dried vegetables, dates and feeds for their livestock.
Like the rest of the Sultanate, the souq also offers its visitors a warm welcome with traders offering their products with smiling faces even during the heat of the summer months. As an outsider, the interaction of the traders and sellers with their customers and visitors resonates the importance of these spaces. The souq is not just a place to trade, but a place to bring families, spend the day, meeting and engaging with people along with buying quality products right from the source.
Souqs and Oman’s identity is intertwined with roots deeply seeded in Oman’s rich history and Sinaw’s souq is one such place for those to visit to experience the lives of the people of Oman.
Siham al Saidi & Titash Chakraborty