Gabel Street Souk or Gabel Street Souq is one of the busiest street markets in Balad, Old Jeddah. Located along the coast of the Red Sea, Balad is a vibrant marketplace but it is not just one roof. It holds together the most popular street shops in the city that continue to draw large crowds that are composed of local shoppers, curious foreign tourists and noisy street hawkers. Below are three reasons why you definitely should include Gabel Street in your list of places to visit in Saudi Arabia.
One, it is located in the tourist-friendly city of Jeddah. As the commercial capital of the country, Jeddah offers a wide array of accommodation facilities, tourist landmarks and religious activities for all its visitors. It is a wealthy modern city that houses the most recognized names in the hotel, restaurant and retail industries. Jeddah is proud of its beaches because there is none like them elsewhere in Saudi Arabia and for the fact that the city is the entryway to Mecca and Medina, Islam’s most holy cities.
Mecca is visited by millions of pilgrims every year, which means Jeddah gets as many number of tourists. While some pilgrims might not stop to enjoy the modern comforts of this wealthy cosmopolitan city, some do. Some pilgrims decide to stay for a while, look around, visit other mosques (most notably the Floating Mosque in the coastal area), and do some shopping in Balad.
Two, Gabel Street is located in the hyper-exciting market area of Balad. Other than for the beaches and religion, shopping is also a top reason why people come to Jeddah. The city offers unique commodities, exotic antique items, savory Middle Eastern spices, and rare souvenir items at very affordable prices.
While there are major malls with modern comfort such as the newly built Mall of Arabia, people can’t help but check out the flea markets in Balad. On sale are textiles, gold and silver ornaments, clothes, and electronics among others. Although all of these are also available in the malls, there is one thing missing in modern shopping centers — haggling.
Bargaining is expected and necessary when shopping in Balad. As a rule, market goers shouldn’t settle on the first offer. Souq (market) operators and vendors expect people to haggle for the best price and so they always give a ridiculously high first offer.
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For locals, bargaining in the souks is a way of life and foreign tourists should learn it, too.
Third and final, don’t miss Gabel Street for what this famous street market has to offer. It is considered by many as a shopper’s paradise since it offers a variety of goods that may be difficult to find elsewhere. Some of the most sought after items in this part of Balad are upscale garments that are sold cheap.
Pieces of clothing on sale can rival those sold in the streets of Paris or Milan but at much affordable prices. Along the streets are smaller shops that sell perfumes, electronics goods, household items, spices, authentic Bedouin ornaments, and so on. Gabel Street Souk is also famous for oriental rugs that came from Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.