Whether your group is visiting as part of their Umrah or Hajj pilgrimages, most travellers are keen to bring back some mementoes for their family and friends at home. So where are some of the best markets near Mecca?
However, before you start planning your visit, it’s important to remember that shopping times in Mecca are dictated in part by the five daily calls to prayer. During this time, all stores and markets will close and the locals will make their way to nearby mosques. While essential services will still run – such as hospitals and police – bear in mind that stores will close and reopen. Markets often open only after 5pm on a Friday to accommodate shoppers. So, make sure to plan and factor in any disruptions to travel and transit.
The best markets near Mecca
Offering a true ‘one stop’ shopping service, this modern mall offers visitors a choice of nearly two hundred air-conditioned stores and shops, including perfumeries, clothing boutiques, and specialist food stores. Much more than a mall, Makkah has a full complement of dining options including fast food, coffee shops and high-end restaurants. There is even a fully manned play-centre where you can leave your children and take some essential time to relax and unwind. In fact, the Makkah Mall is so vast that you can spend an entire day there any not see it all. The stores offer the height of convenience, although some people might argue that it doesn’t offer a ‘traditional’ Mecca experience.
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For that authentic taste of the Middle East, the open air Okaz souk near Taif is as authentically Arabian as you could hope to get. Its stalls are the perfect place to pick up some unique pieces of art and enjoy the area’s colourful history. In the past, Mecca was the predominantly the home of traders and this souk was once one of the largest on the Arabian Peninsula. A recent reinvestment in the Souk Okaz resurrects this lost identity through regular cultural events that champion the history of the city through poetry recitals and artistic displays.
This sprawling bazaar is a great place to purchase traditional Saudi souvenirs and religious gifts. Located a short distance from Al Masjid An-Nabawi, its stalls are always heaving with local dates, oils and (of course) ZamZam water. Ideally, try to visit early in the morning or late at night to avoid the hot Saudi sun and the crowds of tourists.