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74 LEISURE Shopping


Najran is one of the last places in Saudi Ara- bia where you can still find an authentic hand made jambia, the traditional dagger. Souk al- Jambia, or Souk al Khanajer, Aba al Saud is the only souk in the Kingdom that specialises in the locally made daggers, making it an es- sential part of any itinerary. The proximity to traders grinding and selling flour in a nearby shop adds interest. Other handicrafts include gold and silver jewellery, textile weavings, leather goods and wood carvings. Souk al-Nisa'a is the women's souk and is the only one of its kind in the province. It sells a range of items including clothing, toiletries, spices, incense and perfumes, and some household objects.

Al-Baha Bag yourself a bargain

1. Bargaining is part of the culture and a time-honoured tradition at old-style souks. It is recommended that you start at 50 percent of the asking price and work towards a figure you are happy paying

2. No shopping trip to the souk is complete without resting at a coffee shop to have a sip of mint tea, while watching the world pass by.

3. The Gold Souk can be rather over- whelming for first time visitors but don't be discouraged. Find out the current price of gold first. Once you know how much you should be paying per gram, you can decide whether the design you're buy- ing is worth the added labour cost.

saudiarabia 2011

In this province, each of the souks are named after the day of the week on which they are held. The range of products they sell is diverse, ranging from fruit and vegetable to spice and tea and local handicrafts. Most of the fruit and vegetables are grown locally, the poultry is either bred or hunted here, perfumes come from local flowers, honey is harvested in the Kingdom and dates are also grown in Saudi. Even the ironware, such as traditional swords and other weap- ons, along with agricultural tools, are made locally according to traditional methods. The biggest and most popular souk in the Kingdom is Souk Al-Khamis, or Thursday Mar- ket, which is held in the Al Baha Province. The Friday Market, Souk Al-Jumaa, is held in Al- Aqia; the Tuesday Market, Souk Al-Thalatha, is held in Al-Makhwah on the main road linking Al-Baha with Al-Makhwah; and the Saturday Markets, Souq al-Sabt, are held in Beljarchi, Rama, Al Mandaq, Al-Rouma and Al-Jardaa. The largest of these is the Beljarchi. For something more eye-catching and un- usual, you could head south to Narjan, which borders Yemen, where the people wear bright, multicoloured, sarong-like izars, topped by black embroidered jackets.

This region is famed for its honey, but handi- crafts, folklore and dancing all thrive here also.

There are several other souks in this province, selling everything from ironware to handwoven baskets and handicrafts. Once you are exhausted from shopping you can take in a folklore performance or a poetry recital, with tales about Bouzaid Al-Hilali, a legendary inhabitant of the ancient city of Al- Ukhdud. Traditional dancing is also popular and includes Razfa (for men, performed during religious feasts and marriages); Dance of the Horses (a war dance); Zamel and the Dance of the Drums (Tabel, Al Maraf'e). Another attraction in Narjan is the Abha Festival, which was the first summer festival within the Kingdom. Today, it is televised by several satellite stations around the Middle East. Festival events include poetry recit- als, lectures and traditional music concerts, dancing and the Abha Shopping Festival.

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