Shopping in 5 of Must Visit Souq (Markets) of Sharjah, UAE

Shopping Malls can never offer the same delight as shopping in local markets. I strongly feel local markets offer great opportunities of interacting with locals, people watching, local food, photography and more. You must visit local markets if you are interested in any of these.

5 Must Visit Souq Markets of Sharjah

While in Sharjah I explored some of the local markets, some with friends on our own and some were part of activities organised by Sharjah Tourism. Of the several markets I visited here are 5 of them each different from the other in terms of market atmosphere.

Must Visit Souq Markets of Sharjah

Central Souq or Blue Souq Sharjah

Souq al-Markazi, the Central Market of Sharjah is more popularly known as Blue Souk. (Souk in Arabic language means market.) The building built in 1976 is tiled with blue patterned tiles on its exteriors; hence it got named as Blue Souk too. This is one building you will never miss as you walk along the Corniche Street parallel to King Faisal Street. The unique shape of the market calls for attention even if you have no intention to shop.

Must Visit Souq Markets of Sharjah

Central Souq of Sharjah

Central Souk is a fully air conditioned market consisting of 2 identical buildings connected by a bridge. At the top you will see an array of 20 wind towers. The bridge too is lined with shops. We were drawn to it for its grandeur and we found interiors were no different. A traditional market in a modern set up!

And the first few shops that I saw left me dazed! It was GOLD everywhere. I have not seen so much of gold display anywhere before. Though I am not a big fan of gold jewellery the designs there did tug at heart. A man’s got only two shots for jewelry a wedding ring and a watch, but not a woman! There are more than 600 shops in Central Souk. Other items on display were perfumes, electronic goods, clothes, cosmetics, household items. But these didn’t hold much charm after visit to the gold shops there.

Central Souq Interiors Sharjah

Gold Jewelry in Central Souq Sharjah

Location: Central Souk (Blue Souk), Al Buhaira Corniche, Khalid Lagoon, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
Opening hours: Sat – Thu 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., 4 p.m. – 11 p.m. Fri 9 a.m. – noon, 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Fujairah Friday Market Sharjah

Fujairah Market also called Souq al Juma and Masafi Market as it is on Al Dhaid Masafi road connecting Dubai and Sharjah. This market is a favourite haunt of tourists on their drives between these 2 cities. Friday market sounds a bit fancy because it is open on all days of week and so many of the shops open throughout night too, Masafi Market sounds more suitable.

Markets of Sharjah

The location is naturally scenic as it is in the wadi (valley) of Al Hajar mountain range. It has comparatively good rainfall than other parts of UAE and the crop produce is good. It is said that decades ago three Emirati farmers would come to mosque here and after Friday prayers they would sell the produce from their farms at the roadside stalls… thus started the tradition of markets here.

Both sides of the road are lined up with series of shops. You can stock up your food here if you are on a long drive. I found varieties of fruits and vegetable. Tender coconut water, roasted corns, and fried nuts are sold, grab one and munch while on a tour along the shops. The carpet collection/display for sale here is mind boggling! Designs seemed so unique and they had some from Kashmir too in addition to ones from Afghanistan and Pakistan. You will find variety of terracotta stuffs too. Again antiques and souvenirs are in plenty here. I was surprised to see a little nursery too with beautiful flowering plants. If you think you are good at bargaining this is the place you must try those skills.

Friday Market Sharjah

Friday Market

Location: On E8, Aldhaid Masafi Road, 64.3kms from Sharjah Airport.

Al Jubail Fish Market Sharjah

Souq Al Jubail is the newest Fish market of Sharjah. It started in December 2015 and caters to local demands of meat, fish and fruits and vegetables. As I walked into it the only resemblance I found with a local market is the high pitched price quotes of the fish vendors. It seemed as if they were competing among each other to be heard. As this was a guided tour we could position ourselves in the second floor of the market. From there we got good view of the chaos down below which seemed to follow some kind of orderliness. Most important rule followed: No bargaining!

Fish Market Sharjah

Fish catchers bring in fish directly from their boats. There is a separate section with equipment for cleaning and cutting fish. Men in uniform went about their work. It was really fascinating to see the different varieties of fish. The smell was unbearable after a while. Another section of it housed poultry and meat shops. Yet another section had vegetable and fruit shops. We were told there are 212 of them.

Markets of Sharjah

Souq Al Jubail

Location: Approach from Corinche Street, 17.1kms from Sharjah Airport.

Open Timings: Everyday from 6am to 1pm and 4pm to 10pm, and on Friday from 4pm to 10pm.

Iranian Market in Sharjah

It is also called Sharjah Iranian Souk or Souq Saqr by locals. Iranian market is 1.7km from Central Souq, you can hire taxis to get there after your tour of Central Souq. This too is a covered market but not air conditioned like Central Souq.

Souq Saqr Sharjah

The market has huge wooden doors at the entrance. Earlier shops here were covered with palm fronds, around a decade these were replaced with steel coverings. With just natural light the place inside didn’t seem bright. The ceilings had fans, definitely put to use in summers. Good concrete paving between the shops makes it easy walk through. Wooden doors to the shops give a good old feeling about them. The place surely proves to be a haunt of history seekers, heritage lovers, artists and bargaining buyers.

Inside the market a small building houses the Sharjah Art Institute. A couple of artists looked busy sketching the skyline of the city. Different stuff sold in the shops here. What attracted me most was the spices! The aroma was hard to ignore. I invariably kept entering the shops selling them. The variety of spices amazed me, some I have heard of but never seen in life. These have been sourced from foreign countries like Iran, Afghanistan and more. Shops dealing in women’s wear were in plenty. They have preserved the heritage here so well.

Iranian Market Sharjah

Artist at Sharjah Art Institute inside Iranian Market

Souq Saqr Sharjah

Location: Souq Saqr, 109/10, Al Corniche Street street, city Sharjah

Opening hours: Sat – Thu 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., 4 p.m. – 11 p.m. Fri 9 a.m. – noon, 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Old Bazar in Heart of Sharjah

Locals call Old Bazar in Heart of Sharjah as Souq Al Arsah. This Souq is the oldest market place in the U.A.E. and was the meeting place for the Bedouins and their camels in the old days that is around 50 years back. Heart of Sharjah is registered in the tentative list of World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) since 2014. Once approved it will be a feather in the cap for Sharjah.

Souq Ai Arsah

I was thrilled to know this Souq was included in our itinerary by our guide in Sharjah tourism board. Walking in I was pleasantly taken aback by the decades old atmosphere preserved inside the walls of this Old Bazar. Only change is that the place is air-conditioned! If not any other market this should be included in your must visit souq markets of Sharjah list.

The scene inside is a central courtyard with few benches, and several shops around it with diverse stuffs. Alleyways extending away from the central area too have shops. You will find antiques of brass, silver, wood; traditional handmade jewelry made of precious and semi precious stones, traditional clothes, medicinal herbs, games, old models of ships and more quirky stuffs. Haggle to get the best price. I found no shops selling gold though. There is a little coffee shop serving Arabic coffee and Sulaimani (black tea). It requires less effort to chat up with locals here.

Must Visit Souq Markets of Sharjah

Markets of Sharjah

Location: Heritage Area, Heart of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Opening Hours: Saturday – Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Friday 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

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45 Responses

  1. To be honest, I don’t like shopping and sometimes I just can’t imagine that some people would rather spend time in shopping malls in a foreign country rather than visit its attractions. Shopping malls are the same everywhere.
    But I must admit that I am addicted to the local markets or souks – original beautiful handcraft, local food, fresh fruit and veg, the color – it’s amazing and unique anywhere you go. I love to buy some little thing there – made by locals as souvenirs rather than in official souvenir shops. Beautiful photos! Remind me of the time I spent in the Middle East… Nice memories 🙂

  2. Milijana says:

    One of the most interesting parts of travelling certainly is visiting local markets. Local markets with local people and local food mirror the culture and country. On my visit to Sharjah I will definitely visit all mentioned markets. Thank you!

  3. Shane Prather says:

    I would not be able to resist buying a piece of gold jewelry from Central Souq! Love coming back with souvenirs made by locals in my travels – for myself and family!

  4. blair villanueva says:

    Wow there are many ‘treasures’ to bring home! I think these are where entrepreneurs on unique finds always visited. Does local stores already accepts credit card for payment

  5. Aneesha says:

    Thank you for showing a side of Sharjah very few people know about! I’ve spent most of my life living in the UAE and had no idea about the 3 of them!

  6. Joe says:

    No bargaining in the fish market? Surely not – that’s part of the fun! 😉 In all seriousness, I agree completely – it’s much better to shop in markets rather than malls. I’m not a huge shopping person, but even I can appreciate the authentic experience you get from interacting or simply just observing the locals in such environments,

  7. These all look really interesting and like great experiences! I must say if I’m ever in the area exploring these markets I might have to skip the fish market. I can’t imagine that the smell was very pleasant. I do love to explore local markets, though, I think it’s one of the best ways to really get to know a culture when you’re traveling.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing the vibrancy of these special places. I love wet markets throughout Asia. They just show us how precious we are about our food in the West!

    Is it politically correct to haggle and bargain for goods in souks? Or are the prices fixed.
    Thanks Mel

  9. This looks so fun! I love to shop so I think I would feel right at home in these shopping malls!

  10. Bhushavali says:

    Is that a stole/scarf kinda thing, made of gold???? I’m all in for shopping for gold in Sharjah, just someone rich should adopt me, lolz!!! Btw, that Old Bazar is just awesome!

  11. I completely agree that there is a big difference between shopping malls and markets! While I do love shopping malls from time to time, I much prefer a good market to interact with locals and find things that no one else will have! It looks like I’d be able to find many things here and I hope I can check it out one day!

  12. Ami says:

    OMG… Some of these markets existed back then too… And it is so nostalgic to see and read about them. I always loved the blue soul… There was an amusement park next to it that always interested me as a kid. And the Masafi market was a delight… So many goodies and reasonable prices…. Sigh!

  13. I can’t say I’ve ever been much of a fan of markets due to the chaos, but perhaps I’ve got to change that viewpoint! This is great stuff!

  14. The Souqs are really intriguing for me, somehow they evoke images straight from the pages of Arabian Nights. Each one is different. They reflect the local traditions.I would love to buy the spices from these souqs. But quite an interesting experience visiting the Souqs.

  15. Local markets are always a must visit as you learn many things visiting them like the local food, people and culture. Great set of information we would love to visit each one of them. Old market seems to be more interesting to us.

  16. I love all kind of markets. I saw many and each one is so different. It’s so interesting how strongly they reflect the indigenous traditions. It would be really nice to visit these from your set.

  17. I love local markets and there’s something about souqs that make them really special places. I always try to get away from the most known markets because, as they usually have more tourism, prices rise and the sellers themselves are more disconnected. So I really enjoyed that you gave many options in this post.

  18. I love shopping, no matter if it’s for me or someone else, but there’s something about markets that makes it that much better! I would love to visit a Souq market one day!

  19. Andi says:

    I am a fan of marketplaces like this because of rare finds and affordable items. One thing I hate is that there’s too much of them and it makes it hard to choose from. So patience is really a virtue when you do shopping in here.

  20. Marge says:

    I love markets! It’s one of the places I try to go to whenever I visit a place, not just for shopping purposes but because it’s the quickest way to gain some understanding of the place’s culture. Central Souk is the one that got my attention here because of all the gold. My oh my that’s so much luxury. I think my eyes popped when I saw all that gold in the photo.

  21. Ana Ojha says:

    I never knew this side of Sharjah. I never thought Pakistan as a tourist destination ever and never had any fascination to visit there. But I loved the way how you’ve showcased its beautiful markets to get the glimpse of the local food and culture!

  22. neha says:

    The markets are so wonderful. The jewelry market looks so lavish. And Souq al Juma looks so widely spread. But my heart lies with the one where you get those beautiful colorful vases and other hand done items. When I visit Sarjah, I will definitely check out these local markets.

  23. Loved reading this. Old bazaar is my personal favourite but all the markets in sharjah are so vibrant.

  24. Visiting a local market is a prefect option to know more about the country’s local food and lifestyle. I personally avoid crowed markets. But in your photographs this seems manageable. I like these jewelries.

  25. Joanna says:

    I love markets, I think they are a way through which you can get to know the locals better. I like how different are the markets you have presented here one from another. I would love to visit the fish market, it’s definitely different from what I am used to from the ones here in Europe.

  26. I hope they soon convert the old souk to a world heritage site. I am not too fascinated by Gold either but as Indians, there is a lot of importance given to it. Only in UAE would you find an indoor fish market.

  27. Sheena says:

    I love local markets, they are so much more interesting than shopping at a mall. I’m not much of a shopper actually but I love getting caught up in the colour & culture, talking to the locals & taking all the photos. Can’t wait to get to Sharjah & Dubai too!

  28. sophie says:

    Lovely post! I would always prefer to shop from sharjah and not dubai! I went few stores in Sharjah like 5 dirham store and some other and it was great so cheap and great thing to buy just under 5 bucks!

  29. I always wanted to visit a traditional souq and this lists as many as five! These ones still maintain the feel of a traditional bazaar that is getting lost in new malls and supermarkets. Thankfully Dilli still has some of them.

  30. Kristina says:

    I think I would spend all my time in the Iranian Market, those spices!!! The fish market looks really cool though, I love the building that it’s in. It’s crazy how there’s so many markets in just one place! Wonderful job covering them all :)!

  31. Suruchi says:

    Is that scarf of gold in your first picture? Some of the designs are so beautiful. I couldn’t have resisted and surely purchased some of the stuff for myself. Wasn’t the fish market too smelly? Honestly, I would have skipped that. The another attraction for me is the Old Bazaar from where I could buy lots of souvenirs.

  32. elisa says:

    I visited a couple of Dubai traditional markets but there were more souvenir stuff than a arts & crafts place (actually I bought a fake Messi T-shirt). My favourite one of your series of markets is the fish market. Being on a peninsula it must have lots of different kind of fishes so very interesting!

  33. Dane says:

    I love market places! I find I almost never buy anything but I wander around for hours looking until I realise I’ve missed something else I was meant to do that day haha maybe not the fish one though haha. I noticed with the opening times also that quite a few of them have quiet a large siesta haha or break in the middle of the day. The old bazar in particular looks like you could spend days digging through their clutter of things!

  34. Erica says:

    Quite interestig markets in your list! I’ve always admired the markets of the middle eastern countries due to the vatiety of products theynpffer but i am very surprised to see and actually curious about the fish… why are they on the floor?

  35. I love exploring markets! There are always some treasures hidden just waiting for you to be found 🙂 Would love to stroll through all the sparkling jewellery stalls!

  36. I don’t like shopping but I LOVE visiting local markets! Its a great way to see the culture, meet friendly people & enjoy hospitality. Loved the design of Central Souq, it looks really beautiful. 🙂

  37. magiceye says:

    Is Dubai still a shoppers’ paradise?

  38. Trayee says:

    Loved the market Ma’am..Especially the Central Souk and the Fish market..Beautiful shots.

  39. I am a total mall shopper in Delhi but whenever I step out of India, I never peek into malls! Local markets are an essential part of that particular nation’s culture! These pictures reminded me of Dubai’s souks and Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar!

  40. I have visited some of these places while living in the UAE. But through the eyes of your camera, they have taken on a different aura of magnificence. Loved them.

  41. dNambiar says:

    Wow! so much to look at. It’s always interesting to browse through local wares, right? 🙂
    Ah, so that gold display for the week’s ‘caption this’ was from here, huh?! 🙂

  42. divsi says:

    Fell in love with the Souks of Sharjah. Was planning to do a post too 😀 Hehe
    My fav was the Iranian market for its old world charm and brilliant photo ops! 😀

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