7 Must-Visit Souqs in Saudi for an Unforgettable Shopping Experience


    Exploring the vibrant souqs of Saudi is a journey through time and tradition. These traditional markets offer shoppers a unique blend of culture, history, and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Here are some of the most celebrated souqs in Saudi, each with its unique appeal.

    1. Souq Al Alawi, Jeddah

    Wander through the storied lanes of Souq Al Alawi, one of Jeddah’s most celebrated souqs at the heart of UNESCO heritage site Al Balad. You can find virtually anything at the shops here, from local produce and spices to authentic handicrafts and traditional outfits to modern electronics and consumer goods, capturing the full essence of Saudi’s cultural tapestry. Take home a piece of history with jewelry, art, handcrafted rugs, and vibrant decorative items that add a touch of Arabian elegance to any space. During Hajj, Souq Al Alawi is a sight to see, with bustling throngs of visitors from across the Islamic World.
    Must-Buy: Handicrafts, traditional outfits, home décor
    Location: Off Al Dahab St, Al Balad, Jeddah

    1. Souq Al Zal, Riyadh

    In the Al Dirah neighborhood in the heart of Riyadh, near the iconic Al-Murabba historical palace, Souq Al Zal is one of Riyadh’s oldest traditional markets that carries 100 years of history within its alleyways. As soon as you start your tour and hear the sellers’ voices in the auctions, you will feel that you have traveled to the past of the city. The souq is known for its antiques, rare coins, and old utensils. You may also find musical instruments, old record players, and hundreds of interesting items that seem as if they came from a museum of ancient folk traditions. There are shops of incense, oud, and oriental perfumes. There is also an antiques auction that is held every day in the market for a few hours following the Asr (afternoon) prayers.
    Must-Buy: Musky oud perfumes, handmade camel leather slippers, traditional artefacts such as Arabic coffee pots (dallahs)
    Location: Ad Dirah, Riyadh 12634

    1. Souq Al Dirah, Riyadh

    Near the iconic Al Masmak Fort lies Souq Al Dirah, also known as Souq Al Thumari, a haven for aficionados of heritage and art. The labyrinthine alleys of this souq beckon shoppers with a mesmerizing array of local artwork, perfumes, and handicrafts. Dive into the rich culture of Saudi as you browse through unique treasures not found elsewhere. Don’t leave without indulging in the opulence of gold jewelry, crafted with exquisite designs fit for royalty.

    Must-Buy: Perfumes, local artwork, gold jewelry
    Location: 3138 Abi Jafar Al Mansour St, Ghirnatah, Riyadh

    1. Souq Al Tumor, Madinah
      Saudi is one of the world’s largest producers of dates, and the city of Madinah is particularly famous for its high quality and variety of offerings, namely the Ajwa dates. These small fruits make for nutritious snacks and are a major part of Saudi culture — the date palm is even the national symbol. They also preserve well, so you can take them home to share a piece of Saudi with your friends and family. Souq Al Tumor, the date market of Madinah is the most famous place to browse and buy dates in Saudi. With over 150 species of dates ranging from the locally-grown favorite Ajwa dates to the rare and expensive Majdool, you’re bound to find a few you’ll love — and many sellers will let you try a sample before you buy.
      Must-Buy: Variety of dates
      Location: Madinah 42371, Saudi Arabia
    2. Souq Qabil, Jeddah

    Also known as Qabil Street, or Qabel Trail (on Google Maps), Souq Qabil is a historic market, possibly the oldest in Jeddah. These days, Souq Qabil is known as a lively cultural center, particularly in the evenings during Ramadan and Eids, when it fills with food stalls and traditional entertainment. Despite being a small street, it’s an essential part of any visit to Al Balad, Jeddah’s old town, with web of alleys leading to museums such as Nassif House, Al Matbouli House, and Al Shafie Mosque that preserve a piece of the Jeddah of old.

    Must-Buys: Gold, perfumes, abayas, and other traditional dresses
    Location: Jeddah Old Town

    1. Souq Al Qaisariah, Al Hofuf
      Step back in time at Souq Qaisariah, a testament to the enduring spirit of tradition. Dating back three centuries, this souq in Al Hasa invites visitors to immerse themselves in the sights and scents of old-world charm. After undergoing restoration, Souq Al Qaisariah now stands as a tribute to its illustrious past. Discover an eclectic mix of spices, incense, and traditional handicrafts, perfect for capturing the essence of Saudi.

    Must-Buy: Spices, incense, traditional handicrafts
    Location: King Abdul Aziz, Al Rafaa North, Al Hofuf

    1. Souq Okaz, Taif

    Venture to the ancient city of Taif and discover the enchanting Souq Okaz, a celebration of Saudi’s cultural heritage. Originally an open-air market, Souq Okaz transports visitors to a bygone era of trade and tradition. Experience the magic of the annual Souq Okaz Festival, when poetry, storytelling, and cultural performances take center stage. With over 200 shops and 150 attractions, this cultural extravaganza is not to be missed.

    Must-Buy: Handicrafts, traditional textiles, pottery, historical documents
    Location: New Taif, Taif 26432, Makkah Al-Mukarramah Province, 26432

    While this list is a good start, curious shoppers will find that any souq in Saudi is worth visiting. Whether you’re a seasoned shopper or a curious traveler, a visit to a souq offers a shopping experience like no other that will surely be a highlight of your trip to Saudi.

    Saudi Tourism Authority has recently launched the country’s spectacular summer program for 2024, “Saudi Summer is Next Door”. The summer program will run for four months until the end of September, across seven destinations – Aseer, Al Baha, Taif, the Red Sea – a new destination, Jeddah, Riyadh and AlUla. Offering over 550 exceptional tourism products and more than 150 special offers and packages curated for families and children, it caters to diverse segments including adventure lovers, those looking for luxury retreats and activities, and culture and heritage enthusiasts.

    It has never been easier, smoother, and safer to visit Saudi – visa initiatives have been continuously developed, with the eVisa program now including 66 countries, reduction of the total price of the eVisa by 20%, as well as the free 96-hour Stopover Visa. To learn more about Saudi and experiencing all the unique experiences with your family, visit https://www.visitsaudi.com/en for more information. Plan your unforgettable trip today!

    To get a Saudi visit visa from Pakistan, start by determining the type of visa you need, such as family, business, or tourism. Gather the necessary documents, including a valid passport, passport-sized photos, and, if required, a letter of invitation. Apply online through the official Saudi eVisa portal or the Enjazit website by creating an account, filling out the application form, uploading your documents, and paying the fee. Alternatively, you can visit the nearest Saudi consulate or embassy, schedule an appointment if needed, and submit your application and documents. After waiting for processing, which typically takes a few days to a few weeks, you’ll receive your visa. Make sure to check all the details for accuracy. Following these steps will help you obtain a Saudi visit visa from Pakistan.

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