One of the things I enjoyed most in Jeddah was visiting the Balad, or old souks. Surrounded by wooden, shuttered windows and small shops with busy vendors, you’re bound to find some interesting gifts to bring back home.
We spent three hours there, roaming the different stands and haggling with the stubborn vendors. Most thought we were foreigners and would address us in English, until our Lebanese Arabic came out. The smell, the people, everything – very authentic. Not something you’d do everyday that’s for sure but if you go with an open mind, you’ll overlook the dirt and grim and find some hidden treasures.
You can find some great quality abayas there for 35 Riyals ($8.75), scarves, jewelry, perfumes and plenty of prayer beads in all colors and designs. Among the cool knick-knacks I found was a brown abaya with gold embroidery. I’m thinking of designs now to convert it into a dress I can wear here.
My only suggestion for women is to cover up your hair to avoid getting comments from men passing-by. The balad is as real as it gets! Also, be careful not to get lost.
All in all, it’s a great way to truly experience Jeddah and well-worth visiting.