Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Saudi Souq

Souq (سوق ) is the Arabic word for market. When people hear about souqs, they get mental images of Aladdin or the Khan al Khalili in Cairo: dusty narrow alleyways with fabric awnings covering a rustic storefront selling handmade crafts, fabrics, and food. Such is not the case, as far as I've experienced, in Saudi Arabia. There are some traditional souqs in the villages outside the cities, but the kind of souqs I've visited in the area where I live have been relatively modern. Still plenty of alleyways, but the storefronts resemble a strip mall more than a flea market.

After work the other day, I went to a souq with Sandra and Mona to shop for gifts for friends. Here are a few shots from the day.

The most common stores in a Saudi souq like this: gold store and abaya shops. This is an example of the typical jewelry store window display.

This one was slightly understated and chic. ...As chic as a necklace that would give Mr. T a run for his money can be.

An example of what one of the alleyways in this souq looks like. Not Aladdin-esque at all, don't you think? Keep in mind that it's totally open on each end. You can't tell it very well from this shot, but at the end of the walkway are a few steps to take you back out onto the main sidewalk of the souq.

I sneaked this quick, mullet-hunt-style shot of Sandra so we could document the shirt in the upper left of the background. We were perplexed by this fashion. Who would wear this shirt? Would she be wearing anything under it, or just let it all hang out? Is the shirt on the mannequin backwards? This is a typical selection of what can be found in the stores here. A clear example of the fact that the buyer for this store is a man.

One of the main sidewalks of the souq. The orange cooler and stuff around it is a little stand selling candy, drinks, hijabs, niqabs, and other shawls. There are a bunch of these all up and down the sidewalks in this souq. The black lump just past the orange cooler is the woman who owns (or at least runs) the stand.

There are tons of formal dress shops in this souq. Saudis don't just wear a nice outfit to weddings. They dress to the nines! A dress like this is an example of a dress a Saudi guest might wear to wedding festivities. This was one of the classier and least tacky options.

Another side alley in this souq.

Look how they spelled "necklace!"

I didn't get to find all the gifts I was looking for, but I had an great time with Sandra and Mona looking at the dresses and laughing at the window displays. I'm excited to return to Saudi at the end of the summer so I can keep hanging out with these great ladies.

Vicariously yours,

1 comment:

  1. I like the creepiness of you in the mirror in the picture of the weird purple and white abomination.