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72 LEISURE Shopping


RETAIL THERAPY


FROM TRADITIONAL, BACK-STREET SOUKS TO LUXURIOUS MALLS CARRYING THE BIGGEST FASHION BRANDS AND LATEST GADGETS, THE KINGDOM OFFERS PLENTY OF VARIETY FOR CASUAL SHOPPERS AND BARGAIN HUNTERS.


As with much of the Gulf region, shopping in Saudi Arabia is a huge pastime. There are numerous megamalls spread across the country along with the many, and more traditional, markets Ð known as souks. With no tax or VAT, considerable savings can be made for both seasoned and casual shoppers. The departure lounge at Riyadh airport often resembles the sorting office of an electronics retailer. Every international brand can be found in


Riyadh along with all of the western luxury goods. Women's fashion is big business, with the high streets adorned by the likes of Prada and Gucci. The most exuberant malls in Saudi Arabia can be found within the Faisaliah Tower and Kingdom Tower in Riyadh city centre. Both of these towers dominate the skyline and are often used as landmarks for the sake of orientation. Not only do they host some of the most fashionable stores but also some of the most classy restaurants and hotel suites. The Kingdom Tower is the tallest sky- scraper in Saudi Arabia at a height of 302 metres. The Tower contains a total of 99 floors, including the basement levels, and is also host to the highest mosque in the world. The tower houses the Mamlaka Mall, a three-level shopping centre on the east wing, a Four Seasons hotel and state-of-the-art apart- ments. The key stores in the 41,000-square metre complex are Marks & Spencers, Debenhams and Saks Fifth Avenue. In the basement there is also a large food hall. There are also two whole floors reserved


exclusively for women, which are managed and serviced entirely by ladies, and where the traditional abaya can be abandoned. The Kingdom Tower also boasts a 56-metre long skybridge atop the skyscrap- er, at a height of 270 metres, which contains a public observation deck and a view of the entire city of Riyadh. Saudi Arabia's first skyscraper was the 267 metre-high Faisaliah Tower, which was opened in 2000. From a distance, the tower, which was designed by Britain's Buro Happold,


resembles the nib of a fountain pen and is almost totally transparent from both inside and outside. Just below the summit there is a huge, golden globe; an observation deck over the villas, streets and marketplaces of Riyadh. Beneath the tower lies the Faisaliah Shopping


Centre, which has a large Harvey Nichols store with a wide selection of top brand fashion and shoe shops among its 108 units. In the base- ment, there is the Toy Centre and on the second floor there is a large food court. Overall, Riyadh offers the greatest range of shopping experiences in the Kingdom, from traditional souks to high-end international fashion stores. The traditional souks can be found in the historic (old) quarter of the city around the Qasr Al Hokum district. The Antique Souk is the oldest in Riyadh and today it still maintains the traditional narrow pas- sageways and enclosed atmosphere and charac- ter. Other souks in the area include the gold souk and women's souk.


saudia abia 2011 saudiarabia 2011


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