The Souk, Abu Dhabi Central Market

The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

Visiting a souk (bazaar or market) is probably less appealing during the first phase of summer in Abu Dhabi. But it’s definitely a come-on when you think of this new age souk! Few minutes drive from where I live, the historic Central Market is now sporting a new look as it’s transforming into a hub of local food, crafts, boutiques, and traditional and bustling pieces rolled into one. Stories say that the old souk was greatly affected by fire in 2004. As for the idea of resurrecting it, I liked the part that they conceptualized the modern souk not by simply putting up a shiny establishment, and instead they retained the Arabic feel through its architecture.

The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

Although The Souk is still eyeing its completion by the end of this year, it’s worth the visit because of the interesting finds inside it, a peek to its architecture, and the appreciation through your own senses that it’s a stand out in the UAE.

Spices at The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

During our visit last weekend, we noticed that the available stalls offer arts and crafts products, antiques, cameras, jewelries, designer glasses (uhum, must be the season – an eye toy, err, cover is a must), chocolates, and a variety of dining choices ranging from Middle Eastern to Western dishes, not to mention the presence of gorgeous coffee, frozen yogurt and ice cream shoppes.

The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

Souvenir shop, The Soul Market, Abu Dhabi

Edible wedding toppers, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, The Souk, Abu Dhabi

If you’re looking for edible gold-like cake toppers/figurines, you might want to check Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I enjoyed the free taste of chocolates which were kookily shaped as pharaohs and other trivial figures. I willingly accepted the discount card because I might become a suki (frequent customer), who knows? To start, we got a pack of spoon-shaped chocolates.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

And I thought it was a globe, The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

How I wish I were that articulate in reading Arabic, or even if I am (wishful!) I wish I knew how to use this sort of globe or compass.

Is it an Arabic compass? The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

The displays near the escalators, as well as the sculptures of deers (I thought we would find camels instead; but there were plenty of camel inspired souvenirs) and other antique cabinets are really attention grabbing. In a way, it felt like being in a modern-non-eerie museum.

That Arabic sofa at The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

While there are mahogany-like structured benches, the sofa and other booths with this traditional design and color were reminiscent of our Desert Safari experience… and of Baguio in the Philippines.

Second level, The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

Nice architecture, The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

I absolutely liked how they put together the sliding roofs and walls to pave way for a better ventilation. As the architect accounted it, while the towers relate to distance and skyline, the souk and the lower levels are scaled to the pedestrian. An intimate sequence of streets, alleys, courtyards, balconies and colonnades dissolve barriers between inside and outside, with flexible sliding roofs and walls to enable control of internal environments, and to maximise potential for natural ventilation. Like a patchwork quilt of gridded modules of varying height, the scheme is a highly articulated composition that bridges and unifies two city blocks.

Foodcourt, The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

Here’s the current look of the food court. It can only get more impressive in few months.

Strawberry Waffle from The Crepe Cafe, The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

We tried the strawberry waffle and nutella crepe from The Crepe Cafe. Surprisingly, they were light and not too sweet. We found another favorite! But if you really want to know, we’re now earmarking our visits to The Souk to try the tea house and themed coffee shoppes. The ambiance is really magnetic.

Exterior of The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

This is how it looks from the outside. I’m not sure if it’s the Asian in me, but it felt and it looked like that there was a touch of Japanese and/or Korean architecture in it.

Impressive architecture of The Souk, Central Market, Abu Dhabi

But whatever it is, I liked the practicality and appeal of the combination of old Abu Dhabi with the modern age in this structure. Let’s see once this mall (yes, it is!) is in full bloom.

The Souk, Khalifa Street, Abu Dhabi, UAE.



  22 comments for “The Souk, Abu Dhabi Central Market

  1. June 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Very nice structure, kakaiba siya. I hope there is something like that here in Gensan.

  2. June 5, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    my friend’s in Abu Dhabi now. Thanks to this post, I am going to tell him to get me something from that chocolate factory! hehehe. =)

  3. June 6, 2011 at 3:28 am

    beautiful place and the architecture as well. the mask and the chocolate factory appeals me parang sarap tumambay sa luob hehehe

  4. rob
    June 6, 2011 at 8:33 am

    .. hope to visit the iranian souk here in ajman wits. have you tried camel milk chocolates? i’m very curious on tasting one. :)

  5. June 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Di pa ako nakapunta dyan.

  6. June 6, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Wits! This is so beautiful :) I wish I can go here and just spend the day looking and smelling the spices. It’s so nice!

  7. June 6, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    amazing shots youve got here. the first one is really nice though a bit tilted but still beautiful. i also like the 2nd and 5th photos.

  8. June 6, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    tama ka mukhang japanese or korean nga ang vibes ng facade.

    i would love to go to another bazaar someday – sana sa morocco :)

  9. kg
    June 6, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    the place itself, more than the goods, is worth the visit! ang ganda ng design!

  10. June 7, 2011 at 1:43 am

    I love markets and the souks of the Middle East is just fascinating – at least those I’ve visited (Jeddah, Dubai, Cairo).

    This one you featured offers a different take on the traditional souk as it adds a more modern twist to the architecture. The UAE really leads the middle east in edgy ideas!

  11. June 7, 2011 at 5:51 am

    beautiful shots!
    interesting market you got there in abu dhabi. wonderful architecture & interiors! sana napuntahan na din ito ng mga relatives ko na based dyan.

  12. June 7, 2011 at 6:46 am

    napahusay ng drama ng mga kuha…para akong namasyal sa loob.

  13. June 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    hello, wits and nuts!

    this post is beautifully written – the pics capture the moods of the place and the narration is light and informative.

    thanks for taking us with you at the souk… :)

  14. June 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    abu dhabi is so grant! :-)

    Like your shots Wits!

  15. June 9, 2011 at 7:57 am

    now THIS is a mall i wanna see! it’s like a sosyal Divisoria. ^_^

    i really like the stuff you took pictures of. and i really like buildings that take advantage of all things natural (natural light, ventilation) and that speaks harmony to me. i loved how you took us around this mall! ^_^

    btw, are those “rosa damascena” the size of you fingernail? if so, i think i brewed those buds as tea dito sa office. weird ang lasa pero ‘mabango’. heehee

  16. June 11, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Hmmm kailangang mabisita ‘to soon. Darating ang araw darami na ang pupunta dyan everyday.

    Ganda ng mga photos! Talagang maeengganyo ako na puntahan yan. Yung globe, para syang yung armillary sphere na ginamit nila noon sa paglalakbay tulad nung kay Ibn Batuta.

  17. June 11, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I love markets and this one is full of interesting subjects :D

  18. June 12, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Those woven fabrics covering the sofas caught my attention too when I first saw them here in the UAE, which are so much like the inabels produced by us Igorots…

  19. June 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Gorgeous photos, especially in the low light inside the Souk!!

    Bravo :-)

    ps – Kababs / Curries is pretty yummy there!

  20. July 10, 2011 at 8:25 am

    thanks witsandnuts for sharing this… I am also in Abu Dhabi and blogging about foods…I’ll sure visit this place soon. =D

  21. jyothi
    August 23, 2011 at 8:42 am

    can someone please tell me the location of this souk in abu dhabi1hopin to go there today

  22. Mitch
    December 10, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Ang Ganda ng loob, everyone should visit the Souk….

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