Shopping in Jeddah is almost synonymous to one specific place in the city, Balad in Old Jeddah. ‘Balad’ means town; which is short for ‘al-balad’ or old town. If you have not been to Balad, you have not seen Jeddah for real. It is the place to go. Other than the old houses and traditional buildings, what really make Balad appealing to tourists are its small shops or ‘khans’ and market places.
In Balad, there are several specialized flea markets that will surely keep thousands of buyers (locals and foreigners) busy, engaged, haggling, buying, and happy. Saudi gold is popular all over the world and the best place to buy gold and silver ornaments while in Balad is at the Souq Al Nada. ‘Souq’ means market. It is a vibrant souq that is literally shimmering and glittering as it sells not only Saudi gold but also pieces of jewelry from Africa, Asia and other Arab nations. The items are a bit expensive, and so buyers shouldn’t be shy to bargain; haggling is expected anyway.
What comes perfectly with gold and silver blings are high-end fashion wear, and the best places to go high-fashion shopping are in the Mall of Arabia on Medina Road, the main street that runs through Old Jeddah to downtown Jeddah, and Al Khayyat Center, which sells the most recognized brands in the world such as Dior, Prada and Burberry.
Another important place for buyers and tourists in Balad is Gabel Street souq where one can find an array of souvenir items. Located near Souq Al Jamia (a textile market), Gabel Street sells a number of unique commodities such as Arabian spices, perfumes, traditional coffee pots, old incense burners, Bedouin jewelry, and ceremonial daggers called ‘jambiyan’. Nearby is Souq Al Alawi, a well-known garments market that also sells honey, spices and perfume.
The markets in Balad definitely do not disappoint, especially for the fact that buyers also get a chance to go sightseeing in this major tourist destination. One can leisurely walk through old houses and traditional buildings after hours and hours of shopping in the souqs. Shopping in Old Jeddah reaches its peak during the Hajj season when millions of pilgrims and tourists pass by the city on their way to the holy city of Mecca and back.
Apart from Balad there are other shopping centers in the city that make Jeddah truly a haven for shoppers. The newest, biggest and most popular shopping center is the Mall of Arabia with its more than 300 stores inside. This three-storey mall with great architectural design has restaurants, lounges, amusement park, and a wide parking area. Mall of Arabia also offers workshops (e.g. cooking) for shoppers and magic and puppet shows for children.
The ultimate experience when shopping in Jeddah is to hop from one major shopping center to another. From the Mall of Arabia, it would be quite a treat to sample more unique shops, stores and items at the Red Sea Mall. It also has three floors, hundreds of stores, a kids’ club, huge aquariums, amusement center, food court, and the popular chain store, Danube. Other must-see malls are Jeddah Mall, Roshan Mall, Aziz Mall, Sultan Mall, and Al-Mahmal Mall.