Lanterns bring touch of Cairo to Jeddah

1 / 6
A stall in Jeddah’s Al-Shati’i district sells lanterns that are a hit with Saudi customers. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
2 / 6
A stall in Jeddah’s Al-Shati’i district sells lanterns that are a hit with Saudi customers. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
3 / 6
A stall in Jeddah’s Al-Shati’i district sells lanterns that are a hit with Saudi customers. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
4 / 6
A stall in Jeddah’s Al-Shati’i district sells lanterns that are a hit with Saudi customers. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
5 / 6
6 / 6
A stall in Jeddah’s Al-Shati’i district sells lanterns that are a hit with Saudi customers. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 11 May 2019

Lanterns bring touch of Cairo to Jeddah

  • Kiosk selling Ramadan lanterns is a huge hit with shoppers
  • Entrepreneur took a leap of faith in what he thought Saudi customers would like

JEDDAH: Outside a makeshift store in Jeddah’s lively Al-Shati’i district, shoppers crowd around brightly colored lanterns that are shaped like crescent moons and stars. Other lanterns are on the ground, adding a jewel-like glow to the evening.   

The stall was set up by Zuhair Omar Shami and his business partner Ra’ed after they came across traditional Egyptian lanterns during a trip to Cairo.

“We started our business about eight or nine years ago, when this culture was foreign to us and nobody knew what Ramadan lanterns were,” said Shami. “I acquired these lanterns from Egypt and, through my visits, decided to go ahead and introduce them to the Saudi market.” 

Shami took a leap of faith in what he thought Saudi customers would like and it was a hit, with customers flocking to buy the festive and pretty lanterns.

The initial success encouraged him to develop the business by bringing in other items he thought people would be interested in, such as furniture and soft furnishings. 

“We get a lot of people who are seeing this for the first time,” said Shami. “They stop in their cars to peruse and ask us about our products, while others are in disbelief about finding them in the city.” 

Their shop opens five days into Sha’aban, the Hijri month preceding Ramadan, outside Al-Sawary Mall in Al-Zahra. 

From then until the beginning of Ramadan the entrepreneurs are busy at their kiosk helping customers to pick out the right lantern. 

Shami said they have never considered changing their location as it is where they started and where they became a hit. It is also where loyal customers come every year to find them. 

“We settled here because it is a lively part of the city that combines all segments of society, and that is our target audience because our prices also cater to everyone,” he said. “At the start of Sha’aban we handle backorders and deliver our items and decorate homes, gardens, and even cafes and events.”


Madinah museum showcases over 2,000 rare artifacts

Updated 23 August 2019

Madinah museum showcases over 2,000 rare artifacts

  • The museum has issued more than 44 books and publications on Madinah’s architecture

MADINAH: Dar Al-Madinah Museum offers visitors the opportunity to view historical pieces associated with the Prophet’s life. It features artifacts that capture the history, heritage, social life and culture of Madinah.

The museum’s executive director, Hassan Taher, said that it aims to promote the noble values of the Prophet Muhammad, encourage a sense of belonging and capture the history, culture and heritage of Madinah. The exhibits start with the Prophet’s life and end with the Saudi era.

Taher said: “The museum carries out specialized research in Madinah’s architectural heritage. It contains a library of relevant books, research and magazines, all of which are accessible to researchers.”

He said that the museum has issued more than 44 books and publications on Madinah’s architecture.

Taher explained that when preparing the museum’s narrative, it was necessary to reconcile temporal and spatial contexts so they created an added moral and intellectual value for the visitor.

He added: “There are around 2,000 artifacts in the museum’s exhibition halls. These include antiquities, extremely accurate models, handicrafts, manuscripts, documents, correspondence, old publications, postage stamps, photographs and artworks.”

One of the museum’s most valuable exhibits is a large collection of rare pieces associated with important moments in the Prophet’s life and the history of Madinah. 

These include various parts of the Kaaba, rare coins used in Madinah during different eras, ancient pottery, Islamic manuscripts, jewelry and collectibles from the pre-Islamic era.

Taher said that the museum has a professional team of guides who speak several languages, including English, Turkish, Urdu and Malay.