Started in the mid-20th century and founded by the late Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan on the palm-lined road linking Al Ain’s Al Qattara and Al Jimi oases, the historic Souq Al Qattara has been renovated and re-opened.
Al Qattara Souq is a bustling centre for food, entertainment and commerce.
A Traditional Handicrafts Market takes place here every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from October to May encouraging local families to preserve and promote Abu Dhabi’s heritage through an active production of traditional handicrafts.
The Souq is linked to the redeveloped Al Qattara Fort, now home to a popular arts centre, featuring hundreds of modern exhibits, workshops, a cafe and a library.
Friday Market is adjacent to Souq Al Qattara, this traditional market held on Fridays every week displays a variety of handmade products, and is built out of palm leaves to reflect the traditions of the past.
Both markets close from the end of May until October to undergo renovation and repair in preparation for the new season.
Music and dancing are very much part of the Emirati culture. You can enjoy the performances of local men dancing the Ay’yallah. It is considered to be the oldest dance in the region and is normally the first to be performed at a wedding – the men’s party that is!
Another popular traditional dance is the Harbiyah which depicts victory and celebrates pride in power and courage and is often performed by young locals at the start of a celebration or a conference.
Meanwhile at the souq, you can purchase traditional food including the wonderful lukaimat which are light dough balls, deep fried and served with date syrup and sesame seeds.
There are quite a few shops which sell local crafts, honey and dates, and in the permanent souq building some rooms are laid out in the style of shops long ago.
The Traditional Handicrafts Festival and Friday market
Date: 29 October – 7 November 2015
Place: Souq Al Qattara
Time: 9:00 – 13:00 and 16:00 – 22:00