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Wajif, other old Kuwaiti markets are the reminders of striking past

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They represent a vital aspect of Kuwait’s life, economy

Old Souq Wajif

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 1, (KUNA): The old markets of Kuwait are replete with ancient memories, representing a vital aspect of Kuwait’s life and economy. Among these old markets was Souq Wajif, perhaps one of the most important markets of ancient Kuwait.

On the subject, Researcher in Kuwait Heritage Hussein Al- Qattan told KUNA on Thursday that Wajif means standing in Kuwaiti dialect because the sale was done so fast the customers do not have to sit down while it takes place.

One of the most prominent commodities that were traded in Wajif market were women’s clothes such as dresses, cloaks, the hijab, headdresses, as well as menswear such as the dishdasha and scarfs, Al-Qattan explained.

He added that the market was a center for selling women’s supplies of ornamental materials such as henna and kohl, along with sewing tools and some household utensils, especially kitchen utensils, knives and dishes, pointing out that some women in the market were selling food products such as eggs, chickens, wheat and rice. Wajif was not only in Kuwait, but also found in Qatar and Bahrain, Al-Qattan noted.

Mohammad Jamal, a researcher in Kuwait’s history, explained in his book, “Kuwait’s Old Markets” that Wajif Market was located near the southern part of Abdullah Al- Salem Street, northwest of Safat Square and extending north before Al-Gharabally market entrance. Jamal added that the market was a tight, narrow stucco, where some women and temporary vendors sat to sell their goods as they stumbled across the land and put their goods on top of a piece of cloth or mats for sale.

He pointed out that Wajif Market included shops for cotton, hardware with watchmakers, goldsmiths, along with a gallery of cars such as Chevrolet, whose agents were then Ibrahim and Ali Al-Kulaib. Jamal said that the market location moved in the second half of the 1940s to its current location in Al-Dahla area, where the government has removed the old market, built a new market and constructed a large number of shops in the vicinity of the market.

Al-Hareem Market differs from Wajif as the first was located east of Safat Square, close to the site of the old public security from the east and is the property of Sheikh Sabah Salman Al-Malik Al- Sabah, renamed it Sabah Market. He pointed out that Al-Hareem Market was built in 1920 and covered its roof with wood, which included 20 to 30 shops that sold women clothing and women’s supplies. However the market was demolished in the late 1930s, which led to the transfer of most women to other markets

By Reem Al-Barjas