The central business district is located in the eastern part of the city in the area around the clock tower. This is the main tourist hub as well as a popular area for ex-pats who live along the so-called “central corridor” running along the Old Moshi Road (now Nyerere Road) as far as the Impala Hotel. Accommodation is in old colonial houses and newer-build properties on large plots of land set back from the busy main roads.
Just to the north of the central business district is the Arusha International Conference Centre, which doubles as the seat of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (open to visitors on presentation of a passport).
The influx of highly paid UN-appointed professionals and general staff – the court employs around 1,000 people in Arusha – has inflated local prices but it has also generated jobs and business. However, the impact of the scheduled closure of the tribunal at the end of 2008 (2009-2010 for the appeals chamber) will probably be offset by a relatively strong national economy, which is benefiting from the recent political and economic difficulties in Kenya, the continued growth of the local safari industry and the proposed consolidation of the EAC.
Not far from the conference centre are two important cultural centres: the Alliance Française and Via Via cultural café, which organises regular film screenings, live music performances, art exhibitions and other events in the lush gardens of the old German Boma (fort).
The area is well served by banks, small shops and boutiques, bars, cafes and restaurants; there is also an English-language bookshop and a good internet point on Boma Road.
There are also several very good hotels popular with tourists and ex-pats for dining, coffee or swimming; these include the Impala hotel, which is also the departure point for the best shuttle bus service to Nairobi.
For more serious shopping it is necessary to go to the real commercial heart of Arusha in the downtown area to the west. The bustling central market, just north of Sokoine Road, sells an excellent assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables and other local produce. The long-distance bus station is located close by.
Further along Sokoine Road heading west is the Summit Centre, which has a number of shops, although parking here is difficult. Next door to the centre there is a branch of the South African supermarket chain Shoprite, while the Kilombero market is just across the road. This is a less frenetic option to the central market and prices are marginally lower, especially if you speak Swahili.
The city centre abounds with mosques and Christian churches of all major denominations and there are also a few Hindu temples (see directory section).
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Central business district