x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Sharjah leisure centre to replace fire-hit Hazana market

A Dh150 million project is slowly rising from the ashes of a Sharjah market that burnt in 2008.

Al Shaab Village, curently under construction, will have facilities from a sauna to a ski slope, a bowling alley to a billiards hall.
Al Shaab Village, curently under construction, will have facilities from a sauna to a ski slope, a bowling alley to a billiards hall.

SHARJAH // A Dh150 million entertainment complex, complete with its own ski slope, is rising from the ashes of the Hazana market that burnt down three years ago.

Al Shaab Village project, named after Al Shaab football club, is about two thirds complete and should open by the end of the year.

What can visitors expect? The ski slope, which covers 800 square metres, a billiards hall, a 240-stall exhibition centre and a health club, for starters.

"The project is one of an ambitious investment that would support the club in future," said Sheikh Saleem bin Abdulrahman Al Qassimi, the director of the Ruler's office and chairman of Al Shaab club.

"About 65 per cent of the work is already complete. We are planning to be through by the end of this year and officially open in January next year."

The village will have some sections with modern designs while maintaining the heritage of the emirate, said Abdullah Sultan Al Dahi, the director general of Al Shaab Village.

Mr Al Dahi said the ground floor would have the exhibition hall, with enough room between each stall to avoid crowding.

The adjacent ski slope will be able to accommodate 200 people with two trainers. Village officials already are planning to hold two ski competitions every year and offer annual memberships.

There will be a food court with four restaurants and four cafes.

The health club will offer sports and relaxation facilities, including a sauna, Moroccan bath and a massage centre.

There will be 12 billiard tables and four snooker tables, which will also be used for annual competitions, and a bowling alley on the first floor with between four and six lanes.

Children will have a play area that will also be used for stage productions.

There will be a cultural centre for heritage research featuring a library and reading space.

Visitors to the complex can park in one of its 3,000 spaces.

For some former stall holders in the old market, which was next to Al Shaab stadium, the glitter of the new centre means little. Several who had owned spots in the traditional market said despite assurances of moderate rents, setting up shop in Al Shaab Village was probably beyond their reach.

"I decided to take another stall in Sharjah Rolla souq this year," said one man, who operated a stall in the old market but did not want to be identified.

"Even though the prices of new stalls are not yet out, I just know it can't compare with what I can afford in my moderate garment-selling business."

Other former stall owners, such as Abdul Khaliq, 45, an Indian, said they still had high hopes for the project, even though they could not afford to be part of it.

"What all this means is development and I am supporting development, especially for Sharjah, which I now call my home," Mr Khaliq said.

"It doesn't matter if I can work there or not. I know some other people will fill up the stalls, and I will also fill up stalls where I can afford."