April 29 - May 5, 2018: Issue 357


Interior of the souk with shops lining each  side of the passageway.


By George Repin

A souk or souq (spelled in different ways and under different names in different countries – “bazaar” Persian) is a marketplace or commercial quarter in Western Asian, North African and some Horn of Africa countries.

Originally – as far back as the 6th Century BCE – they were open-air market sites outside cities where incoming caravans stopped and merchants displayed their goods for sale.  Usually they were established at places where caravans stopped for rest and refreshment – “caravanserai”.

At first all available goods we “lumped together” but, over time, as the market places became established they divided into specialized sections dealing in specific types of goods or produce, making it easier for buyers to compare quality and prices, and promoted competition. 

From about the 10th Century CE the marketplaces shifted towards the centres of urban areas and at around this time they became covered. Today souks tend to be in a town’s old quarter and some are important tourist attractions.

Shopping at a souk or bazaar is a standard part of daily life throughout the Middle East.  Prices are commonly set by bargaining also known as “haggling”) between buyers and sellers.

Souks in Dubai are interesting because, of the seven Emirates  making up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is the only one which has become wealthy through trading rather than oil.  Although much retail activity takes place in Dubai’s modern shopping malls the city’s souks are still vibrant marketplaces.

Dubai’s Gold Souk, the most famous and visited souk, houses in its wide passageways the shops of hundreds of tradesmen and artists trained in the craft of jewellery design.  They offer a huge collection of jewellery made of gold, diamonds and other precious stones (and silver to a lesser extent). In the case of gold items prices are based on the current market price of gold (24K, 22K, 21K and 18K per gram in AED).  The weight element of the price is not negotiable but the cost of workmanship is, so this is where price can be bargained. 

Entrance to the Gold Souk.

Gold items.

Gold necklaces.

A variety of gold ornaments.

Gold and silver necklaces and bands.

A variety of silver rings with diamonds and pearls.

Jewelled necklace.

Photographs accompanying this article were taken in the Gold Souk in 2011.

The following are other specialised souks which may interest a visitor:

The Spice Souk whose trading floor offers colourful sacks of spices, herbs, rice, fruit, candied nuts, locally blended teas and high-quality saffron strands.

The Perfume Souk deals in everything scented, from pure perfume to essential oils, and the exotic traditional oud.  Items can be bought in wholesale-sized flagons or more portable ornate vials.

The Textile Souk with a large array of shops offering rolls of fine silks, airy cottons, exotic palm frond weaves and dazzling fabrics for saris.
And, of course, the magnificent Dubai shopping malls have anything and everything that a dedicated shopper might hope for.

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants  Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service  Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino  Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers  The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant  Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre   Around Angkor - 1963   Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross  The Oceaographic  Museum  in Monaco  The Island of Elba  Russian Fairy Tale Plates  Meteora  Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska  Cloisonné  Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories  Not A Chagall!  Did You Listen? Did You Ask?  Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand  Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells  Murano  University of Padua  Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi   Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park   Aphrodisias   The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children  Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre   Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island    ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997  Hotere Garden Oputae  Children of the Trobriand Islands  Page Park Market - Rabaul  Rabual   Kotor, Montenegro   Galleries of Photographs I   Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II   The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia  Ivan Meštrović  - Sculptor   Delphi   Gallery of Photographs III  The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai Raft Point  San Simeon - "Hearst Castle"   Floriade - The Netherlands - 1982  Russian New Year  Mycenae  "Flightseeing" Out Of Anchorage Alaska  The White Pass and Yukon Route  Totem Poles  Tivkin Cemetery  Krka National Park - Croatia   Tavistock Square and the BMA  Orthodox Easter   Wieliczka Salt Mine  A Walk on Santorini  Indonesian Snapshots Ephesus - The Library of Celsus  Ephesus - Some Places Of Interest  Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau Valley United Nations Headquarters 1958  A Miscellany of Flower Images   Gardens Bath St. David's In Wales   Zion National Park Nicholas Himona - Artist   Kraków  Lilianfels  Collonges-La-Rouge   Gingerbread Houses   Cape Sounion   Delos  Wroclaw  Colonial Williamsburg  Gruyères   Strasbourg  Coventry Cathedral  The Roman Theatre at Aspendos  Turkish Carpets The Duomo of Orvieto  Rovinj  The City Walls of Dubrovnik  Monaco - Snapshots  Bonifacio, Corsica  Autumn in New England USA  The Great Ocean Road   Pompeii  Didyma  Lawrence Hargrave 1850-1915 The Corinth Canal  Malta  Snapshots of Amsterdam Café Central - Vienna  The Forbidden City - Beijing, China  A Ride on the Jungfrau Railway - 1954   Snapshots in the Highlands of Scotland 1954  Must See Sights in Paris - 1954  Corfu Reflections On the Nineteen Thirties 

Copyright George Repin 2018. All Rights Reserved.