New look Al Hafa Souq may surprise Khareef visitors

SALALAH, April 30 – The new look of Al Hafa Souq would certainly be a big surprise for Khareef visitors this season. Now it looks like an old tree which has been trimmed and pruned from all four sides, left only with the old yet smart frankincense souq and some shops which sell home-made herbal cosmetic solutions. Some concrete linings and layouts give an indication of some development plans for the place, which certainly would take time and at least for this season the visitors here have to be content only with frankincense shopping.
Known also as Al Husn Souq 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 authentic frankincense.
No need to mention that frankincense from Dhofar is one of the best in the world and this is one of the reasons why this market derived its name as ‘frankincense souq’.
“Only the market’s name works like a magic among the European tourists and they get engrossed when we take them for visit. They like the aroma, its setting and get a feel of authentic Dhofari culture after interacting with the shop owners. Most of the shop owners here are women who make Bakhour (an incense made out frankincense, special wood and perfumes),” said a local tour guide.
He hopes that something great would come to this place without any compromise with the original souq, which stores stories of many generations. “The visitors get surprised over businesswomen’s skills in perfume making and different kinds of cosmetics.”
Asked about the future plans of the Hafa Souq, he showed his inability but expressed confidence that some “great value” structure would come here.
The place went through second phase of demolition recently in which most of the private shops were demolished. Some residential and business dwellings were demolished in the first phase in 2015.
It is everybody’s guess that what is going to happen in Hafa area, but one thing is sure that every Salalah visitor this Khareef season would certainly like to have a glimpse of its current status, which would force them to sharpen their own imagination about its future. — Pic by Abdulrahim Subait