Al Ain Souk
Location : Al Ain- UAE
Joint Venture : Consolidated Consultants Group (Jafar Tukan Architects)
Year : 2020
Al Ain Souk (market) represents the historic social and economic hub of the city. Locally also known as “Al Jhabra” or “Jhabret al Ain”; the Souk was built in stages over a period of time spanning approximately 30 years (between 1968 and the 1990s). It is located on the northeastern boundary of the Al Ain Oasis, within the buffer zone of the Al Ain World Heritage Site. The market complex was erected on the site of a previous souk (replacing the pre-oil mud brick row of shops); and was entirely financed by Sheikh Zayed; it was among the first public structures built in the immediate surroundings of the Al Ain Oasis to form the nucleus of modern Al Ain City since the early post-oil period.
Al Ain Souk retains very strong social, economic, urban, architectural and historical values that solidly establish its role as a physical legacy of and historic anchor to the sense of place and community memory of Al Ain. The whole complex illustrates the technical achievements obtained in architecture and technology at that time through the realization of a vast covered space with the employment of two different construction systems: reinforced concrete and steel roof trusses. Al Ain Souk, represents a unique example of Modern heritage in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in general, and the City of Al Ain in particular with its unique structural systems, modular design, rhythm, free spatial flow, and honesty of structural expression with visible structural systems and services. It possesses significant technological achievements in terms of innovative construction techniques either in the use of concrete in building B with its barrel vaulting system or in the innovative use of steel construction of Building A covering the open-air central passageway; thus continuing the traditional linear typology of the Arabic market with modern materials and techniques.
The establishment of the Souk was intended to support the government’s goals of enhancing the economic development in the city through the supporting of agricultural reforms and the farming industry in the Eastern Region with Al Ain City as its central commercial hub. More recently and between 2020- 2023; Al Ain Municipality undertook a major conservation endeavor to rehabilitate and renovate the Souk in addition to strategically add a new extension to the market, thus catering for much needed services and functions in the Souk. The vision of that endeavor was based on respecting and sustaining the typology of the Arabic Souk and its spatial quality, diverse values, tangible and intangible attributes, and authenticity while enhancing physical and visual connections with Al Ain Oasis and other historic buildings and cultural assets in the vicinity.