Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 13 December 2019

Sharjah’s Souq Al Jubail comes alive with storytellers and traditional arts

Ahmed Yousef weaves special tales during Ramadan at Souq Al Jubail.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Ahmed Yousef weaves special tales during Ramadan at Souq Al Jubail. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

The traditional Arab marketplace for years served as a vibrant hub for social and cultural expression and Sharjah’s largest produce market has revived this concept this Ramadan. The imposing Souq Al Jubail has been drawing crowds not just to buy fish, meat and vegetables but also for traditional Arabic storytelling sessions, workshops on lantern making and Turkish art, and a special area hosting a mini dates festival.

Inaugurated in December 2015, the souq was built to replace Sharjah’s old Al Jubail Fish Market. Compared to the 44 small stalls in the old market, the swanky state-of-the art souk has three sprawling separate sections selling fish, including a section with equipment for cleaning and cutting, poultry and meat, and vegetable and fruit shops.

But during Ramadan, at about 8.30 every night, children gather to listen to stories while their parents shop for the daily iftar at home.

Popular Hakawati storyteller Ahmed Yousef, dressed in colourful robes, breathes life into the tradition of oral storytelling, bringing alive the drama inherent in the adventures of kings and simple fables of the animal kingdom with hand puppets, facial expressions and animated voice. Most importantly, most of his stories stress on a deeper moral lesson.

“I tell stories from the Quran, Arabian Nights and history of the region,” says Yousef, a seasoned Egyptian theatre actor and director who has lived in the UAE for 28 years.

“Apart from Arabs, a large number of expat children come and listen, so I do few sessions in English as well,” he added.

There also are traditional crafts to try – learn how to make a burqa, madkhan (incense burner) or fanous (Ramadan lantern). Or get arty and learn Ebru, the Turkish art of paper marbling.

Daily entertainment includes live shows featuring a levitation act, mime artists, a fisherman show, jugglers, stilt walkers and magicians.

• Ramadan activities at Souk Al Jubail runs until July 7, with more festivities planned for Eid. It is open from 7pm to 2am

Workshops to attend:

1. Ebru Turkish Marbling Art - Saturday, July 2, 9pm

2. Fanous (Ramadan lantern) - Sunday, July 3, 9pm

3. Emarati Madkhan (incense burner) - Monday, July 4, 9pm

4. Burqa - Wednesday, July 6, 9pm


Updated: June 30, 2016 04:00 AM