By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: Four days after a blaze tore through Souq Mubarakiya, traffic there is lighter than usual. The stench of burned material still hangs in the air, although the fire was extinguished days ago. When Kuwait Times visited, some owners of the gutted stores were watching bulldozers removing the debris, with the hope they can still salvage some items.

One of the shopkeepers, who did not want to be named, evaluated his losses at around KD 100,000. "I had two stores with bukhoor (incense) and perfumes, which were destroyed in the blaze. I lost all the contents of both stores, worth KD 100,000. I am not insured, but I hope the administration of the market will be able to compensate us in some ways," he told Kuwait Times.

Photo taken on April 1, 2022 shows the damaged Souq Mubarakiya after the fire.

According to him, all shops had fire extinguishers, but as the fire resulted from a strong explosion in one of the perfume shops, they couldn't even use the extinguishers. "We didn't even have the chance to take any goods from the store. We could only run to save our lives," the shop owner rued.

Farouq is the owner of a store selling makeup and skincare products near the scorched area, but in the basement. "I'm glad the firemen could extinguish the fire before it reached the basement where our store is located. Fortunately, I didn't lose any goods, but due to security reasons and the location of the store, the police have closed the basement for now till everything is cleaned. So I'm still facing losses for having my store closed," he said.

Heavy damage in Souq Mubarakiya as the Liberation Tower is seen in the background.

Mohammed Al-Rifai, owner of a perfume store on the adjacent Gharabally Street, complained of a lack of customers. "Only a few customers pass by my shop. This is not even a quarter of the usual number of customers during this period. This has sharply affected my sales. Most people think the whole Souq Mubarakiya has burned down and there are no stores open, after what they saw on social media. But this is not true, as only a part of the market was destroyed," he said.

Lena, a saleslady at a clothing store opposite the gutted area, described her fear during the inferno last week. "I was really scared when I saw the fire, which almost reached our store, and I can't forget that scene. We were lucky that it didn't reach our store. Unfortunately, our sales have been strongly affected, as people are not coming to Mubarakiya. People think this place is closed, and only a few people are coming here," she said.

Heavy damage in Souq Mubarakiya.