Saudi Arabia’s traditional souqs exude Ramadan vibes

A glimpse from a 10-day ‘Ramadan Market,’ which was held at Al- Arbaeen Lake Park in Historic Jeddah before the advent of Ramadan. (SPA)
A glimpse from a 10-day ‘Ramadan Market,’ which was held at Al- Arbaeen Lake Park in Historic Jeddah before the advent of Ramadan. (SPA)
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Updated 27 March 2023

Saudi Arabia’s traditional souqs exude Ramadan vibes

Saudi Arabia’s traditional souqs exude Ramadan vibes
  • Bustling with tourists and residents, souqs are the beating heart of Saudi cities

RIYADH: Souqs are the best place to buy Ramadan essentials — food, decoration or fashion — and to experience the hustle and bustle of the holy month.

Souq, meaning market in Arabic, is a modern shopping destination but with an old-world charm.

May AlSheikh, reservoir geoscientist at Aramco, spoke with Arab News to explain the importance of souqs in the Middle Eastern culture.




AlUla’s Old Town is a serene marketplace with a beautiful view of mountains. (Supplied)

“Souqs are historical shopping and trading scenes that have been around for thousands of years. I strongly believe they remain an essential component for preserving culture and identity in Saudi Arabia, on the local scale, and the Middle East region as a whole,” Alsheikh said.  

Alsheikh believes the souq is a place where tourists can indulge in culture and get a taste of tradition.  

“I work in a company that is a cultural melting pot with people coming from all walks of life, and I always recommend my expatriate colleagues to visit souqs — they love it! It’s a great tourist attraction and a pleasant activity, where they enjoy the traditional ambiance while purchasing traditional goods and foods,” she said.

AlKhobar’s Al-Swekit Souq

One of the oldest souqs in the Eastern Province, Al-Swekit Souq, is a hub for affordable gold jewelry and abayas.  




AlUla’s Old Town is a serene marketplace with a beautiful view of mountains. (Supplied)

AlSheikh visits the Al-Swekit Souq during the month of Ramadan to buy all sorts of things for herself and the family.   

Souqs are historical shopping and trading scenes that have been around for thousands of years ... they remain an essential component for preserving culture and identity in Saudi Arabia, on the local scale, and the Middle East region as a whole.

May AlSheikh, Reservoir geoscientist at Aramco

“Shopping in Swekit market is fun, especially around this time of the year with the holy month of Ramadhan fast-approaching. The shops in Swekit usually sell a variety of traditional merchandise and local produce. I personally love buying abayas, spices and customary festive attire for myself and the kids,” she said.  

Jeddah’s Al-Balad Souqs

Al-Balad is Jeddah’s oldest neighborhood, founded in 7th century AD, and is home to a plethora of some of the oldest traditional markets: Souq Al-Badu‎, Souq Qabil, Souq Alawi, Souq Nada, Souq Al-Khaskeya, Souq Bab Makkah and Souq Bab Shareef.

The souqs have a variety of shops to explore, selling gold, textiles, honey, spices and much more. Some of these markets have been around for decades and hold a special place in the hearts of locals.  




AlUla’s Old Town is a serene marketplace with a beautiful view of mountains. (Supplied)

“It is a lively, enjoyable, and unpretentious social activity where you see people from different backgrounds and economic classes shop and interact together. And, quite frankly, that’s the beauty of it! It breaks social norms, shrinks the social and economic classes’ gap, and promotes a healthy, inclusive society. In addition to that, souqs give thrive to small-scale businesses which feed into the overall economic growth,” AlSheikh said.  

Just make sure to put your bargaining hats on to show off some negotiation skills.

AlUla’s Old Town Souq

Julian Ryall, Japan correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, visited The Old Town Souq in AlUla, where community locals set up clothing shops, fruit stands, pottery and crafts, and cafes amid a beautiful view of the mountains.

“Any foreign visitor who comes to Saudi Arabia is going to want to visit a souq. It has to be one of the most important elements of a trip, as important as drinking tea on a trip to England,” Ryall said.

He added: “I loved the hustle and bustle of market, of the stall-holders calling out to passers-by, of being encouraged to haggle on prices and just the items that were available,” Ryall said.

“The local gold shop was the perfect place. I was embarrassingly bad at haggling so the owner took pity on me and gave me a discount anyway. I think I’ll tell my wife I did haggle the price down when I give her the earrings.”  

Riyadh’s Almaigliah Souq

Established in 1986, Almaigliah Souq is the first wholesales traditional market in Riyadh located next to Al-Masmak Fort.  

The complex consists of four buildings, each specializing in a genre of shopping: gold, women’s clothing, men’s apparel, and perfume.  

Almaigliah is best known for their great deals on the best Arabian ouds perfume, spices and women’s abayas.

For almost three decades, this souq has attracted tourists from all over the world and continues to be a retail destination for locals.  

 


Malaysian minister lauds Saudi Arabia’s Makkah Route initiative

Malaysian minister lauds Saudi Arabia’s Makkah Route initiative
Updated 01 June 2023

Malaysian minister lauds Saudi Arabia’s Makkah Route initiative

Malaysian minister lauds Saudi Arabia’s Makkah Route initiative

RIYADH: Malaysian Interior Minister Saifuddin Nasution praised Saudi Arabia’s Makkah Route initiative, facilitating the travel procedures of Hajj pilgrims from Malaysia.

The statement was made during Nasution’s visit on Wednesday to a hall dedicated to the initiative at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where he was briefed on its readiness to facilitate pilgrims’ journey.

The Makkah Route initiative enables Hajj pilgrims from six countries to complete immigration, cargo and travel procedures before departing for the Kingdom.
 


Saudi crown prince congratulates Turkiye’s Erdogan on presidential win

Saudi crown prince congratulates Turkiye’s Erdogan on presidential win
Updated 01 June 2023

Saudi crown prince congratulates Turkiye’s Erdogan on presidential win

Saudi crown prince congratulates Turkiye’s Erdogan on presidential win

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a phone call to Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Thursday.

The Crown Prince congratulated Erdogan after he was declared the victor in a historic runoff Turkish election.

Prince Mohammed wished the president success and the Turkish people further progress and prosperity.


Italian government lifts restrictions on export of military weapons to Saudi Arabia

Italian government lifts restrictions on export of military weapons to Saudi Arabia
Updated 31 May 2023

Italian government lifts restrictions on export of military weapons to Saudi Arabia

Italian government lifts restrictions on export of military weapons to Saudi Arabia
  • The decision ended an embargo that began in 2019

ROME: The Italian government on Wednesday lifted restrictions on the export of military weapons to Saudi Arabia, ending an embargo which began in 2019.

The move was announced in a communique at the end of a Council of Ministers presided over by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

The decision was made “in accordance with the foreign and defense policy of Italy,” the official communique said.

Restrictions on the export of weapons from Italy to Saudi Arabia were imposed by the Italian government to prevent their use in the conflict in Yemen.

The Italian government added: “Today there is no more reason to keep those restrictions standing any longer.

“The regional context in Yemen has changed, and since April 2022, partly thanks to the truce, military activities have been sensibly circumscribed.”

Italy now believes that the reduction in military operations “significantly also mitigates the risk of misuse of bombs and missiles, particularly against civilian targets.”

Rome also acknowledged that the Kingdom “has pursued intensive diplomatic activity in support of UN mediation and was also active in a decisive manner on the economic and humanitarian assistance front.”

The press release added that in the light of the “changed situation of the conflict, the Council of Ministers states that the export of bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia does not fall under the prohibitions of exports established by Italian laws, and is in accordance with the foreign and defense policy of Italy.”
 


Al-Jubeir meets ambassadors from US, Costa Rica

Al-Jubeir meets ambassadors from US, Costa Rica
Updated 31 May 2023

Al-Jubeir meets ambassadors from US, Costa Rica

Al-Jubeir meets ambassadors from US, Costa Rica
  • Al-Jubeir wished Ratney success in his new role and in fulfilling his duties

RIYADH: Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, minister of state for foreign affairs, on Wednesday met newly appointed US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Michael Ratney, in Riyadh.

Al-Jubeir wished Ratney success in his new role and in fulfilling his duties.

Al-Jubeir also met non-resident Francisco Chacon Hernandez, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the Kingdom. The parties discussed bilateral relations as well as issues of mutual interest.
 


Kenyan defense minister meets Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition chief

Kenyan defense minister meets Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition chief
Updated 31 May 2023

Kenyan defense minister meets Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition chief

Kenyan defense minister meets Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition chief

RIYADH: Secretary-General of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition Maj. Gen. Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Moghedi met Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Bare Duale in Nairobi on Wednesday to discuss counterterrorism and violent extremism-related issues.

During his meeting with Al-Moghedi, the Kenyan minister praised the coalition’s framework – for military, counterterrorism, anti-terrorism financing, as well as intellectual and media matters – as a strategic pillar in fighting terrorism and violent extremism.

He added that terrorism has its roots in intellectual and ideological orientations, which constitute the basis of the extremist approach.

“Working on preparing the mindset and integrating it within the proper framework constitutes one of the proactive action pillars aimed to repress and contain extremist thinking,” Duale said.

Al-Moghedi said that strategic initiatives by the coalition in its counterterrorism efforts have taken into consideration the hierarchy of terrorist tendencies.

The secretary-general also spoke about social media and communication platforms, and their role in influencing users. He also discussed countering illegal terror financing through military support and assistance services.