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Widows, divorcees lament delay in opening of ‘Souk Harem’

Souq Wajaf, also known as “Al-Harem” Souq, holds a distinguished status as one of Kuwait’s renowned markets for the past 70 years, alongside other heritage markets in Souq Al-Mubarakiya.

The name “Harem Market” stems from customers standing between stalls while women vendors, seated on the floor, sell their locally crafted goods — mainly produced by Kuwaiti women. The market has evolved through various stages, with the latest phase witnessing development, organization, and a new design under the late Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad.

During this period, the municipality allocated stalls to eligible widows and divorcees. Despite the there has been a delay in distributing the stalls pending completion, prompting questions about the reasons for the holdup from concerned authorities.

In a recent visit by Al-Anba to the market, several individuals shared their perspectives. Umm Muhammad, a second-generation Kuwaiti citizen with 40 years of experience in the market, emphasized the historical significance of the Harem Market, expressing anticipation for the impending distribution of the stalls.

She mentioned that the company responsible for the market’s development had handed it over to the municipality months ago, and the stalls, which number about 86, are awaiting distribution.

Reflecting on the market’s past, Abdullah Al Balushi recalled its unique role as one of the cheapest markets, exclusively staffed by Kuwaiti women. He expressed hope that the stalls would soon be allocated to Kuwaiti women.

Salman Al-Rashoud from Saudi Arabia praised the Harem Market for its traditional offerings at unbelievable prices, highlighting Kuwait’s enduring charm.

Muhammad Abdel Karim expressed his yearning for the reopened Harem Market and questioned the reasons for the delay in distributing stalls to deserving individuals. Another participant emphasized the Harem Market’s historical role as a marketplace for grandmothers and mothers, recalling its simplicity, abundance of goods, and nominal prices.

Finally, Muhammad Al-Harbi acknowledged the Harem Market as a heritage market portrays Kuwait’s history. He expressed hope for its reopening, suggesting that in its organized and developed form, it would regain its former splendor within the Mubarakiya market.

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