Although sales of gold jewellery have shot up in the city, shops in Souq Waqif’s Gold Souq are still awaiting customers.
A few of the shops recently closed down because of having little or no business even one year after the Souq opened. Traders in the Souq say many people are still unaware of the existence of the Gold Souq, which is, incidentally, located opposite the gold market.
“Some people think it’s a hotel and they just look around,” said one retailer.
Only old customers of big groups such as Al Muftah and others come to buy anything, said Abdul Rehman of Safana Jewelry. He said the number of expatriate customers was increasing, with many Americans and Russians visiting the Souq once in a while.
Another reason cited for the low turnout of visitors was the ban on entry of single workers on weekends.
“For many gold shops, single workers are very important customers, but here they are not even allowed to enter on their days off,” said another shopkeeper.
Many Yemeni retailers from Saudi Arabia have also emerged as tough competitors in the gold business.
“They bring new designs from Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, which are very popular among Qataris and other Arab nationals,” the shopkeeper said, requesting anonymity. Retailers insist that prices of jewellery in the Souq are no different from those in other shops.
Traffic congestion and inadequate parking space in and around Souq Waqif were also cited as possible reasons for few customers visiting the Gold Souq.
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