x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Outside chance for some bargains in the capital

In a country where souqs are a rich part of Emirati heritage and shopping is sport, it is little wonder that outdoor markets are a hit in other emirates.

ABU DHABI // Everybody loves a bargain. And in a country where souqs are a rich part of Emirati heritage and shopping is sport, it is little wonder that outdoor markets are a hit in other emirates. Soon, cost-conscious shoppers in the capital may be able to enjoy a new outdoor shopping experience a little closer to home.

A community market will open at Khalifa Park from March 11 until May 1, according to Melanie Beese, the woman who introduced flea markets to Dubai. It is a project she has been asked to manage by Abu Dhabi Municipality, she said yesterday. Ms Beese hopes that the Khalifa Park market will become a lively and bustling shopping destination akin to London's Covent Garden. "There will be live entertainment shows every day, music and dancing, funfair rides and a market every day with vendors from all over the world selling goods," she said.

On weekends, she said, an arts-and-crafts market will be added to the line-up, as well as exhibition space for young fashion designers. A flea market will be staged once a month. "They have the malls in Abu Dhabi, of course, but there is not always so much entertainment and people here love the souqs, live entertainment and funfair rides," Ms Beese said. "We want it to have a long-term place in the city."

Nour Salman, 24, a financier from Palestine, said she would be keen to explore a new market before the weather heats up. "It would be interesting to have something different and it would be an opportunity for more creative vendors to set up," she said. "Artists could go and sell their work and there would be more individual items available which would be great for everyone." Ms Beese said that an Abu Dhabi family recently made the early morning drive to Safa Park to exhibit their unwanted belongings at the Dubai flea market.

Amal Salameh, a 23-year-old Jordanian receptionist, said she often makes the hour-long drive to spend time in Dubai's outdoor spaces. "It would be a nice change for Abu Dhabi because I usually have to go to Dubai for things like this," she said. "People love souqs," Ms Beese said. "They like the social activity. "I don't know what to expect from the flea-market sales in Abu Dhabi but I am interested to see who exhibits and what is on sale."

The market is expected to run from 4pm to 10pm weekdays, and until midnight on weekends. @Email:loatway@thenational.ae aseaman@thenational.ae