Since moving to Dubai four and a half years ago, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a growing number of artisan markets. Each year more market days seem to be popping up all over Dubai. But why?
The Artisan Vs. The Mall
I remember the first time I went to the Ripe Market at Zabeel Park and was pleasantly surprised to see all the stalls there. I honestly thought it was just a fruit and veg market. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one who liked it because Ripe has since opened The Collective. A hub for creatives, artists and taste-makers. Other initiatives such as the Marina Souq and Arte also promote and support local artisans through their events. Every Ramadan, The Mine hosts the Mine Pops and even restaurants such as La Serre are inviting Artisans to showcase their work during dining hours.
Of course, the concept of a marketplace is nothing new to the Middle East (or the rest of the world). Souqs have been part of the culture for as long as anyone can remember, with buyers and sellers gathering in one place to trade. But with the development of high streets, malls and fast fashion, people became interested in the cheap and the easily accessible.
But in Dubai, that seems to be changing
Mirian Walsh, founder and organiser of Arte, an initiative supporting local artisans, believes “people are more interested in unique, one of a kind, handmade, awesome, custom made [products] than by what is available in all the malls.” Miriam also believes people like to hear about the artisans’ stories. That in an age consumed by the digital world, the art of conversation is greatly missed.
The Artisans here specialise in everything from home furnishing to children’s wear to apparel to customised leather goods. But the most popular category is jewellery. Miriam notes that she has more jewellery makers at her markets than any other category. And over recent years male jewellery has become popular due to their increased interest in accessories; just like women, they prefer more unique, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Hayet Zerelli is one of the top artisans in the region. Hayet uses old and modern metals to make her pieces, as well as customising any bit of jewellery you want to bring new life to. Whilst Arash, handcrafts incredible leather bags and accessories right here in Dubai. Other local Artisans and Dubai-made goods can be found here.
Here’s To Next Season
Of course, now that the weather is sitting comfortably in the 40s, the season has officially closed. But I very much look forward to what the new season brings. New Artisans? New Market Days? New unique pieces? Until then, you’ll find me exploring markets around the world.
Ever purchased from an artisan? What’s your favourite Artisan market?
Images courtesy of Arte.