70s Abu Dhabi Souq Will Be Torn Down | ExpatWoman.com

Why This Historic Souk in Abu Dhabi Will Soon be Demolished

A much-loved souk in Abu Dhabi will be torn down due to structure risks for shopkeepers and buyers

Posted on

29 August 2019

Last updated on 1 September 2019
Clarice Awa at ExpatWoman
by Clarice Awa
Why This Historic Souk in Abu Dhabi Will Soon be Demolished

Zaab souk is facing serious structural hazards

Abu Dhabi Municipality announced that the Zaab souk, a shopping district dating back in the 1970s, will soon be demolished after a recent inspection. Authorities who ran the evaluation reported that some stores had been left abandoned by shopkeepers, most of the walls were crumbling, there were holes in the ceiling, and the rest of the building was in disrepair.

Beyond the dilapidated appearance, the structure provides an insight of early Abu Dhabi architecture decades before it became the world-class cultural destination it is today. The structure made use of concrete arches and brick crenellations, which can be seen among the older souks in Deira and Fahidi in Dubai.

The municipality said, “The building is old, dilapidated and represents a negative and distorted appearance of the neighbourhood."

“It does not meet the requirements of security, safety and public health and contains obvious structural defects. Accordingly, measures were taken for the evacuation and demolition of the structure to secure the safety of shoppers and employees.”

Its shut down and plans for immediate demolition resulted in UAE residents recalling their childhood days playing around the souk, meeting with friends under the arches and joining their parents for tea at the souk cafes.

One tweet read, "... all agree Zaab souq represented a simpler time when community life did not revolve around air-conditioned malls or glass high-rise towers."

At the time, shopping in Abu Dhabi meant visiting locally-owned shops by expats or UAE nationals.

A long-term expat told The National, "That strip mall is a classic example of the 1980s expansion – it is a bit old and shabby and tired but it is a shame they are being lost. It is inevitable but it is sad."

Why This Historic Souk in Abu Dhabi Will Soon be Demolished

Pictured: Zaab Souq

Photo credit: John Dennehy/The National

More 70s-80s buildings being torn down

Other structures across Abu Dhabi that were built during the 1970s-1980s architectural wave are disappearing.

Long-term expats who frequented the souq in their childhood days lamented on the shutdown of what they say is an Abu Dhabi landmark. Others said they would prefer if Zaab souq was revamped and continued to be used for business by UAE residents.

While the souq was a bustling, lively shopping strip in the late 1980s - 90s, it's been long since the present-day location has seen a similar atmosphere. The paint has been washed out over time, the cafes rarely received customers, and the now-decrepit pillars where children would run in between are on its last legs.

As of now, it's unclear whether it will be rebuilt, or if a new souk or other development will take its place.

Why This Historic Souk in Abu Dhabi Will Soon be Demolished

Photo credit: John Dennehy/The National