WINNER THE MEED EDITOR’S OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR HERITAGE

UAE

Revitalisation of the Old Suq of Dubai

Entrant/client: Dubai Municipality

Main contractor: Architectural Heritage Department

Description: The AED250m ($67m) Old Suq of Dubai revitalisation project called for the careful restoration of the original markets in Bur Dubai and Deira that together formed the commercial heart of Dubai before the modern era began. It started in 1998 when the architectural heritage department of Dubai Municipality engaged shop owners in both markets in a programme that has involved meticulous rehabilitation work without disrupting normal activities. The result is that the Suq of Dubai is once again thriving and today provides services to the local community, as well as to hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

One of the main aims was to restore the old show windows of the shops and to install wooden-carved roofing for the suq. The project also helped to enhance the quality of public spaces in the suq. Several were selected according to their potential to be upgraded. Sahet al-Arsa, located in the heart of the Deira commercial suq, has been developed for residents, shoppers, traders and visitors. The roof covering and pavement have been replaced and new lighting has been installed. Traditional materials were used throughout, including shell and coral stone on the walls, gypsum on plaster and wood fronds on the ceilings. The result of the Old Suq project is that the two markets not only capture the essence of Dubai as it once was, but also play a critical role in maintaining the economic and social sustainability of Dubai’s central areas. The Old Suq of Dubai revitalisation project has been widely acclaimed and recognised as an inspiring blueprint for heritage developments in other Arabian cities.

“The revitalisation of the Old Suq of Dubai is significant in protecting structures that were an expression of everyday commercial life,” says Dubai Municipality’s architectural heritage department. “Conserving these structures is not only a way to maintain one of the distinctive elements defining the historic city of Dubai, but also sustains a collective expression of urban experience.”