A Study Of Dynamics Of Omdurman Market (Souk Omdurman)

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Suliman Mohamed, Dalal
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Omdurman is regarded among the towns of distinct character in the country as it has a remarkable cultural and historical heritages. Souk Omdurman is the oldest market place in Omdurman town since the nineteenth century. It is the beating heart of the town and is one of the dominant features of Omdurman. It acquired this reputation from its influence on the local economy of the National Capital Omdurman, and on the tourism sector as general. Souk Omdurman has its unique character and identity, which is honored by all Omdurman inhabitances and the Sudanese as a whole, it represents their cultural and social heritage. Souk Omdurman is famous for its traditional products, made by the hands of very skilled artisans, using ebony, ivory, silver, gold and leather to produce their handicraft art pieces. The unique character of these products attracts tourists to Souk Omdurman. The first hypothesis of this study suggested that the survival of these handicrafts in Souk Omdurman is highly threatened. These threats could be summarized into two main domains: the first is the abundant and flooding of the market with similar imported low- price products. The second follows the logic of investment capital which finds a refuge in the modern sector, the retail and the whole sale sector and the accessories sector on the account of the traditional sector. The flourishing of international markets in Asia which can produce low-cost products, had attracted the merchants to pursue fast profits and to fulfill the increasing demand on these products by imports. This study focused on clarifying the dynamics of the past and present situations of Souk Omdurman, its land-uses, activities and transportation routes, availability of public services and its urban morphology. Bearing in mind the important role played by Souk Omdurman on the region and on the country as a whole. The study aims to preserve this important cultural heritage, and the identity of this ancient traditional market. It also aims through analyzing its urban morphology and compare it with the universal standards, to reach a complete example of a unique traditional centre in the region. This to develop the tourism sector in the country and to upgrade Omdurman as a reputable historical tourist city. The methodology used in this study is the induction methodology. The inductive method, is a process of utilizing observations to develop general principles about the specific subject. A group XI of similar indicators, specimens or events are first observed and studied; findings from the observations are then used to make broad generalizations about the subjects under examination. These statements will then become explanatory inputs for the case study. The history of Souk Omdurman was deeply studied and site visits to Souk Omdurman were held to explore the problem from its origin. The collected data has been analyzed by the means of a special analytical methodology, the (SWOT) analysis, where the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are arrayed to lead to priorities. The research started by studying the historical development periods of Souk Omdurman from its firs foundation until now. During each stage, land-uses, activities and transportation are the main themes to be studied. This historical background included both Khartoum and Khartoum North centers, comparing them with the historical periods of Souk Omdurman, and analyzing these stages and their influence on the central market. Data of urban morphology of Souk Omdurman has been collected. Special focus on the theme of the research; land uses, activities and transportations, have been covered in this study. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats had been again reiterated to analyze the urban morphology of the old market area. For the purpose of research, the researcher has divided the market into analytical zones for the sake of analysis. The study concluded that the retail sector hegemonizes the market while the artisans sector diminished, the Accessories sector is swallowing the traditional sector of Souk Omdurman. And that the infrastructures of the market needs to be improved, the market area lacks the essential public services i.e. public toilets and parking facilities. The traffic movement inside the market needs rearrangement. These conclusions leads to the deterioration of the economical leading role of Souk Omdurman as a whole, and the deterioration of the traditional and tourism sector specially. It gives the way to the new activities to revive and lead the economies of the market. This will affect the being of Souk Omdurman and the structural hierarchy of markets in Omdurman town. One of the main recommendations of this research is the establishment of a training complex for the Artesian and Craftsmen. Other recommendations reads to the encouragement of societies such as the Artesian Guild, and the evacuation of the old market area from the whole sale and the building materials sectors, introduction of green areas and parking spaces in the market. Rearrangement of the roads and modes of travel inside the market area, the encouragement of the competition in the field of handicrafts to cover the increasing demand on this sector and to empower this sector by enabling it to compete other capitalized sectors and imported products.