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Posted On: 3 July 2015 08:54 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:15 pm

Demolition of souqs blamed for high rents

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Several real estate experts have called for more commercial streets across the country, instead of glitzy shopping malls to provide required services to the public and address the rising shop rents.

They pointed out that demolition of traditional souqs has created a vacuum in the retail sector and shopping malls are not an alternative since they can’t provide all services that could be found on a commercial street.

Most recently, Souq Ahmed bin Ali near Souq Waqif was razed and shopkeepers in the neighbouring Souq Faleh have been asked to vacate.

Souq Kharaj, the only second- hand market in the country, is also expected to face the bulldozer soon, while other traditional markets have been demolished to give way to major development projects.

According to Khalifa Al Maslamani, a leading real estate expert, about 2,000 shops need to be relocated with demolition of traditional markets across the city. “Therefore, we need more areas to open new shops with required facilities like roads. Traditional markets had been serving majority of the people because they had various services, including A/C repairing and carpentry shops. They are located in the heart of the city and easily accessible to the public,” local Arabic daily Al Arab quoted Al Maslamani as saying in a report yesterday.

“There is a need for cooperation between the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce and the private sector to find alternatives for the demolished markets,” he added.

He said the major difference between commercial streets and malls is that the former provide many services not available in malls.

“Malls are providing good services and attracting more people, with their one-stop-shop facility and ample parking areas. Parking is a major problem at traditional markets because they were planned years ago and not designed to meet the rapid rise in the population,” said Al Maslamani. He said these souqs also fail to meet new conditions and requirements being imposed by the Civil Defence Department, while new shopping malls are equipped to fulfil them.

Ali Al Hameedi, another real estate expert, said more commercial streets are necessary to create enough space for retailers and meet the needs of companies to open their branches. “Rents have multiplied after demolition of traditional markets. This situation will continue unless the government finds a solution by establishing new markets and commercial streets,” said Al Hameedi.

Because of a shortage in supply, businessmen and retailers are struggling to find space for shops. Malls are mainly focusing on brands while commercial streets provide various service. “Due to shortage of commercial streets, companies are competing to get space in malls. This is affecting the people directly,” he added.