Sharjah Heritage Area

Antiques at heritage area big attraction for tourists

By Jamil Khan @ The Gulf Today-Sharjah, August 30, 2012
SHARJAH: For people who love to collect antiques or who have a hobby of possessing something exceptional, the Souq Al Masqouf in the heritage area of Sharjah provides them a good opportunity.
The fully covered market, which is built in the traditional style of Emirati architecture, is a cluster of around 100 shops ready to meet the needs of customers, from foreign tourists to the local expatriate communities.
The Souq Al Masqouf, also known as Souq Al Arfaa (its old name), is one of the many structures in the heritage area that is widely referred to as Old Sharjah.
The heritage area facing the sea consists of famous Al Hisn Fort, many museums and other structures serving a permanent visiting site for local families and foreigners.
Visitors belonging to various nationalities find this place a haven of hundreds of antique items collected by traders from all over the world. The items include centuries-old household items like utensils, coins, jewellery, daggers, subha (praying beads), swords, home decoration items, carpets, a variety of talismans made from copper or woods, seals and clay jars. Many shopkeepers specialise in paper currencies, pocket watches, wristwatches, postage stamps, gemstones and cameras from its early days.
Besides antiques, many shopkeepers have a wide range of home decoration items depicting many landmarks of the UAE, including Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab made from glass, wood and other material.
Some shopkeepers deal in new items, especially traditional Emirati clothes, carpets, rugs, paintings and handicraft to represent the different shades of local life.
Talking to The Gulf Today, Zaheer, a salesman, said that they have customers from different Gulf countries as well as from China, Japan, Argentina, United States, Mexico and European countries.
“Most of our items are brought from Yemen, Syria, India and Afghanistan through the brokers in these countries,” he said.
The brokers who collect the antique items in their particular countries are well aware of their trophies so that they buy authentic goods to earn a handsome amount.
There are many historical sites in Yemen, Syria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan where over the last century excavators found a huge number of items. Besides, many families in these countries have a number of objects passed on to them through their forefathers.
He said that visitors show great interest in the traditional dresses and household items from Yemen, gemstone jewellery from Afghanistan and clay statuary on different subjects from India and antique carpets from Iran.
Sharing his experience and joining the discussion, Zia, another salesman, showed a century-old jar made from a mixture of different metals valuing at $3,000.
“This jar is one of many antique items like copper water storing utensils, copper kettles and swords as many customers show keen interest in these items,” he added.
However, Muhammad Ibrahim, hailing from Ghazni, Afghanistan, has a big variety of antique items, mostly from his native country.
“As a keen collector in the last many years, we have a good reputation in the local market and have a number of rare items, including a manuscript of Torah in leather binding written in Hebrew. The manuscript is valued at $80,000. Besides, there is a copy of the Holy Quran written by Hussain Bin Ali (RA), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” he said.
He talked about the situation in his country in the last 30 years during which museums and private collections were stolen or damaged.
“There are people who have valuable items once belonging to Kabul Museum or private collectors for generations but are now floating in the open market and could be available at a huge price,” he added.

~ by jamilkhan on August 30, 2012.

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