The Very Colorful And Nitid Land Of Golden Souqs in Dirah

The first time I passed by the shop called “Traditionals” at Granada Mall in Exit 9, I fell in love with its kaleidoscopic atmosphere. The shop sells traditional Saudi handicraft and antiques. I have always wanted to do some traditional kind of shopping and visual feasting on something variegated here in the capital city.

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The luster that vintage items projects is like an aphrodisiac to my optical organs. The sad part is, I was only able  to steal a photo of the shop’s entrance. When I got inside, I humbly asked the one in charge if I could take pictures but he simply pointed his index finger at the signage that says “No Photography”. I rest my case. I left the store with a heavy heart…It has been more than a year since.

A couple of weeks before new year’s first day, a good friend of mine, Ace, asked me to tag along with him in his second visit to Souq Al-Thumayri, Souq Al-Dheera, and Souq Al-Zil. These markets are all located in the area of the historical Al Masmak Palace and Fortress in Dirah, which is approximately half a kilometer past Al Batha Street. According to Saudi Tourism’s “Guide to Shopping in KSA”, said markets are considered three of the most important and frequented traditional markets in the kingdom. And, the things I wanted to photograph at Traditionals are swarming in those markets. The latter was the only thing I needed to know. I instantly dropped a big and heavy “yes”, especially when Ace told me that I could bring other friends. Traveling with friends is always cheaper and more fun! Nothing is more gripping than starting the new year with travel for someone like me.

In the chilling morning of the new year’s second day, I (armed with my Panasonic Lumix GF), Ace, Marwin, and Alvin cruised our way to Dirah for almost an hour drive from Exit 7.


The excitement that was enveloping us on the way turned into displeasure when we were caught in traffic and could not find a parking lot. The whole Dirah was already teeming with cars and tourists by the time we arrived. It took us more than 30 minutes to find two blank spaces for the cars. But as soon as we began probing the shops, the enjoyment was rekindled. A little bit later, each of us started to build a world of our own.


I traipsed all over the available commercial shops in sight such as “Camel Corner”, which can be contacted via their Facebook Page, “Traditional Centre”, “Asia Carpet Centre”, and so forth.

I saw brasses (in multiple forms), daggers (in curved sheaths), swords (in gold and silver scabbards), clocks (from England), shishas (in various sizes); crystals (as bulbs), multicolored lamps, gold stores, keychains, dreamcatchers, figurines (of camels and elephants), telephones, gramophones, phonographs, Middle Eastern chandeliers, coffeepots, jars, jewelry boxes, carpets, Islamic prayer beads, comforters, incense, incense burners, and a whole heap more.

It should be noted that all the antique items I tested were working.


Then it just dawned on me that the whole souq area was a different world. As I was walking through the streets and checking each of the shops, I felt like I got stuck–but enjoying–in a 17th-century time warp world, which I called “The Land of Golden Souqs” for obvious reasons.


Everywhere I looked, there was a presence of colorful items, especially the slightly reddish yellow ones.




These old pieces of the old world radiate a touch of magic as if I could be transported to Narnia the moment I touch any of the clocks.


Then I got to this corner where a peculiar view caught my attention: A man, who was sunbathing to mollify the freezing blows of the winter season.

So I shot him twice.


I exclaimed at how the photographs turned out. Sometimes, the best photographs are usually the ones from stolen shots. The man simply exuded some of life’s subtleties that make for a unique and captivating photo. All because he did not feel self-conscious.


I actually thought the man in the photo will get mad at me for stealing shots of him but he smiled–much to my surprise. He even enthused to have me take pictures of the carpets inside his store.


As I was digging intently into the photos, I noticed my three companions already converging–while the shops were closing for prayer time.


After all that had happened, that day was the most colorful and nitid one I ever had–literally and figuratively!


It is a fact that the kingdom boasts numerous state-of-the-art malls but the most unique shopping experience lies within the souqs. These traditional outdoor markets in the old town of Dirah are the best places in the kingdom if you are up to finding ornate traditional Saudi souvenirs and making a colorful and nitid day.

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23 Comments Add yours

  1. Boots says:

    My eyes are feasting from all the wonderful photos! I love anything middle eastern and going to souks in Morocco is in my bucket list (but I assume middle eastern souks are going to look similar whether you’re in Morocco, Saudi, or Turkey)!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      I believe so too, Boots! There is something attractively unique about those traditional Saudi handicraft. Thank God, the golden souqs are there. I didn’t have to ask permission to take pictures!


  2. Wow…such colorful things on display …it feels as festive and blingy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Indeed, Shoma. I’m still holding my breath in awe each time I think of the Deira.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Chia says:

    Wow! You have just indulged my eyes with shiny beautiful golds! I remembered Princess Jasmine and Aladdin while I was reading your post. Hehehe Nice! This made me want to visit Saudi. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Chia, that’s also what I was remembering as I was checking each of the carpet stores in the area. It was such a magical ride I must say. Thank you very much too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jakesprinter says:

    Nice bro

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Thank you, Bro. That coming from an artist sure is a big big compliment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jakesprinter says:

        Indeed bro thanks for sharing


  5. aysabaw says:

    ganda nga talaga ng Arabic art eh. lalo yung maliliit na details, yung mga uka at kurba he he. sa mga souq talaga makikita yung mga traditional eh


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      ibang klase ang lugar na yan. magical ang salita na naiisip ko sa tuwing naaalala ko ang pagbisita namin diyan

      Liked by 1 person

      1. aysabaw says:

        naks…mala 1001 Arabian Nights 😛


      2. Sony Fugaban says:

        Hehe…nadala lang ng emosyon 😬

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Christina B says:

    We lived in Dubai for a year and I loved visiting the souks and being transported back to another time when I was in there. I miss that. I really enjoyed your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      That is exactly what happened to me too, Christina. Sometimes, this kind of visit is the best monotony breaker. The place is actually ordinary but if we utilize the images around, we can create a whole new world or be transported to a different time. That kind of place is, I think, another form of magic. Thank God traditional markets still exist to radiate that magic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Christina B says:

        I understand exactly what you mean. I love that magic.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Diwata says:

    Wonderful shots and story. My favorite from the bunch is the photo of the man selling carpets (was he selling or tambay lang ha ha). Na curious ako, naniniwala ba ang arabs sa genie?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      That’s actually my favorite too. Kakaiba kasi pala dating ng picture na kung saan ang subject ay hindi conscious.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s a lot of gold!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Oh, yes! In color only…

      Liked by 1 person

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