Shopping in Aqaba is a delight for many reasons, but here is the most straightforward one: this is a duty free zone, which means you can get some nice buys in the city. Shops here also tend to stay open until midnight, so you can truly get a full evening of shopping in if you are up to it. There is actually a sensible reason for the shops tending to stay open later: they tend to open later. This is due to the intense heat of the city, which does not really encourage shoppers. Evening sees a drop in temperatures, of course, so night shopping is popular.
Sand art is a popular souvenir. The typical product is a pear-shaped glass bottle that is filled with coloured sand layered in such a way that the strata present a picture-usually a panorama of the desert complete with trees, dunes, the sun, and camels-through the clear sides of the glass. This is usually quite intricate, and it is achieved with painstaking labour: the artists have to fill the bottles carefully, then create the designs by pushing a very thin stick with a tiny, spatula-like bent end through the mouth of the bottle to manipulate the sand into the right place.
Local wines and liquors are found at wonderful prices, coming even cheaper than they do at the very borders of the kingdom. Exotic sea shells are common too. Dead Sea products abound, of course, but nowhere are they priced as cheaply as they are at Aqaba. And naturally, you are going to find a lot of local handicrafts here, from jewellery to pots and woven bags and rug, all at bargain pricing.
But Aqaba is not just a place for traditional products. This has long been and still is a trade post in the Red Sea, of course, so you can find quite a number of branded items from other countries in the malls and shops here. Electronics, for instance, are very well-represented. A lot of recognizable brands may pop up before your eyes if you go to a computer or electronics store during your stay. There are quite a number of modern shopping malls in the city, so you can just go there if you are searching for non-traditional goods.
Shopkeepers in the city tend to be warm, but you do have to be friendly too to bring out the best in them. Shopping in Aqaba can be a genuinely enjoyable experience, with a shopkeeper bringing you refreshments and mint tea if you linger long enough in his shop. You may be surprised by just how accommodating the people here are: there have been numerous accounts of tourists asking shopkeepers for advice on where to find a particular good only to have the shopkeeper actually making calls to find it for them, then even offering to fetch the item on the spot and asking the tourists to wait with a nice set of refreshments to tide them over as they wait.