“Locals and residents all shop at hypermarkets and shopping malls. Aside from a monthly spike in business from locals and residents around the time they receive their salaries, business is down.” Another shopkeeper Noshad Kandain elucidates. “I’ve been working here for many years, and business has never been this slow,” he stated, pointing to a nearby shop. “You see this shop? Its shutter is still closed. It’s past 4.30pm now. Shops should all be open. The shopkeeper is probably taking a long nap. He knows that opening his shop a few minutes late won’t make a difference in sales. Another problem is cruise ship passengers have seen other souqs in the region and made their purchases before making it here.”
Meanwhile, specialists think modifications have to be created to preserve the historical souq relevant. Hussein al Yasiri, managing companion at Business Advisory and Facilitation firm, Project MENA, explained, “Muttrah Souq is one of the oldest markets in this region. It is an integral part of Omani and regional history having been a commercial hub for centuries. To retain its position into the future we need not look farther than the example of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said when he anticipated future needs and developed the area to include a modern port in the 70s.” Diversification is crucial “From replicable and standardised to special. Whether by function or style, a solution which can not be identified effortlessly elsewhere acts as a effective type of marketing and advertising and branding as the mystery and access alone is adequate to draw in multiples of footfall.
The existing substitute and complimentary solution offerings are readily obtainable and at an typical high quality, when you couple this with the advent of e-commerce and access to info, the visitor or purchaser is spoilt for option alternatives anyplace else. “Standard average quality during economic downturns is no longer sustainable as a model for small businesses in an increasingly competitive environment, not without economies of scale or some element of controlled market dynamics,” Yasiri stated. Destination marketing and advertising technique “The Muttrah Souq has an asset which is undeniably to its advantage and makes it unique. This can make it the envy of Muscat’s neighbours, it has a story and history which cannot be manufactured and can always be improved on. We need to look at upgrades to the soft assets, the experience, the journey and the messaging – all key elements of a destination marketing strategy. Market this wonderful place as a destination of experiences and not a place to buy things,” he added. Middle East Council of Shopping Centres Member, and Director, The Retail Agency, Oman,
Maimunah al Shebani, stated, “Muttrah Souq is one of Oman’s gems and was once the pulsating heart of Muscat. The uniqueness of the souk is that it’s human-scale. Locally distinctive, the souq brings colours, heritage, and culture all in one place.” Maimunah added, “With the rapid growth in shopping malls the last couple of years, Muttrah Souq is losing market share to more modern shopping destinations. New offerings, place activations, programming and a welcoming community feel is what will help revive the souq to the magical place it used to be.”
Information Source: Muscat Daily