Friday, April 25, 2014

Souvenirs from Saudi Arabia

Every time I travel back to the states from Saudi Arabia, I try to take souvenirs with me to give to family and friends.  I have taken dozens of "niqabs" (face veils) for my girlfriends, the red and white checked scarves that Saudi men wear here called "shemagh," prayer beads, and a variety of colorful prayer rugs.

I've also purchased oud (strongly scented oils used as perfumes) and these little scented cubes that are nice to put in bathrooms or in drawers. Surprisingly I was able to find Christmas ornaments last year that were painted carved wooden camels.

It's not that easy to find souvenirs here in Saudi Arabia like it is in other places around the world that cater to tourists.  And that could be because Saudi Arabia only really allows religious tourism.

I like to try to find items that have Arabic writing on them or images that are typically Arab, but like I said, it's not that easy.  Even finding T-shirts related to Saudi Arabia is difficult.  I also like to try to find things that are useful and not just dust collectors, and since I am always on a budget, I try to find reasonably priced items as well.

Here are some of the souvenirs that I have found here in Saudi Arabia ...

More expensive than most gifts that I usually purchase, this beautiful decoupaged wooden keepsake box with a map of Saudi Arabia on it was filled with a variety of high end dates.

Miniature Yemeni homes made of clay.

Playing cards with the Kings and Jacks wearing Middle Eastern headgear, and the Queens wearing face veils. 

Henna design templates.

Keychains

Gold coin face veils generally worn by brides or for special occasions.

Starbucks coffee mugs

Purses with Arabic calligraphy - I asked my husband if it said anything in particular, to which he jokingly replied, "It says that whoever buys this purse is an idiot."

Cheenko - popular old time serving pieces

Polo shirts by Kalimah Brand.  They also have an interesting variety of Arab themed T-shirts

Kalimah Brand ladies long sleeved T-shirt with the shemagh (red and white checked) design incorporated into it

Scarves with Arabic designs and letters by Kalimah Brand

Teapots and housegoods

Decorative inlaid teapot

Teapot

Fabrics with metal embellishments

Arab salt and pepper shakers - also comes as piggy banks

Refrigerator magnet

Refrigerator magnet

Refrigerator Magnet

Notepad / Shopping list

61 comments:

  1. What a fun post today! I always try to do the same in the countries in which I have lived. The gifts ranged from Mao's Little Red Book of Commmunism to Dries lizards on a stick for snacking! Most recently I took back some Yak jerky and a deck of CHinese "safe sex" playing cards -- they are playing cards with safe sex advice in Chinese and English although the translations are more humorous than educational!

    I think my favorite foreign gift to take home was the year I got my mom a wooden box from Dubai filled with frankincense and myrrh for Christmas and I added a pair of gold earrings to make sure all three precious gifts were in there.

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    1. Hi Jill - I love the idea of giving frankincense and myrhh. I had never seen either until I moved here, and I think most people probably don't know what they look like. Gold from here is also a great gift, as it is a higher Karat content and is sold by weight, not design.

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    2. Hi Miss susi,where din u but frankincense and myrrh oil hepe in Saudi...?thanks

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    3. Hi Miss susi,where din u but frankincense and myrrh oil hepe in Saudi...?thanks

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    4. Hi susie,where can i buy frankincense oil and myrrh?

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    5. Hi susie,where can i buy frankincense oil and myrrh?

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    6. Hi Miss susi,where din u buy frankincense and myrrh oil here in Saudi...?thanks

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    7. Hi Lorra - For sure you can get it down in Al Balad, as well as other shops - but we always get it there.

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    8. Hi ms susie...
      May i know where to buy ref magnets? Thanks much!

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  2. Love the inlaid teapots. Wasn't easy to find unique to South Africa souvenirs either.

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    1. Hi Gaelyn - I am always on the lookout for souvenirs because they are indeed so hard to find. I think countries like KSA and SA are missing out on lots of revenue. If I had the money to start a souvenir business here, I would.

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    2. Where do you find the inlaid teapots or the Arabic playing cards? I live in Yanbu. Are they at the old markets?

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    3. Hi Butterfly - The teapots are in Al Balad at the Afghani-Turkish souk. The playing cards were bought for me by my nephew, so I am not exactly sure where he got them. I will ask him and try to find out.

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  3. That is such a lovely collection, Susie. And your husband's humourous comment made me smile. :)

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    1. Hi Linda - Thanks so much. I thought this would be a fun post. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  4. Really beautiful stuff! I especially love the teapots and the fabric with metal. Beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, Jeanette - I have seen these pieces of fabrics applied to abayas to embellish them.

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  5. HI
    where did you find all the products?
    in what city?
    I love the starbuks coffee mugs and niqab gold
    You already read the Quran Susie ?
    kiss

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    1. Hi Oum Oukkâcha - I am in Jeddah, and it is where I got all the products at a variety of different malls and souks.
      I have not read the Quran in its entirety.

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  6. the shirt is AWESOME! how can I get one?

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    1. At Red Sea Mall at the Kalimah Store - lowest level.

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  7. Thank you for sharing these "gifts." There is a great deal of beauty in SA, if they would only recognize the women. Are you over here now? Hope all is well.

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    1. Hi Lori - I am in Jeddah right now, but will be traveling to the US soon for the summer. Great to hear from you.

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  8. I love the Yemeni houses. Where did you find them?

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    1. I have seen the Yemeni houses several places - at the Turkish-Afghani souk in Jeddah's Al Balad, at the Janadriyah Festival in Riyadh, etc.

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  9. Thanks Susie for this wonderful collection - I think the salt and pepper dispensers are hilarious !

    I like the t-shirt with the shemagh printed on it. Nice design - but purely for Western tourists I suppose. Would any Saudi woman wear it at home ?

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    1. Hi Nathalie - Saudi women are very stylish. Last year I was at a Saudi girls' high school and saw one girl wearing a pencil skirt made out of the red and white checked scarf that men wear. It looked great. I could see women wearing the t-shirt you asked about, whether they are Saudi or Western.

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    2. hey susie, loved reading your blog..

      Where can i get good souvenirs ? especially the bags, magnets, mugs, card and scarfs that has been posted in this blog

      Thanks,
      Yeshi

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    3. Hi Yeshi - The bags were purchased at Petromin Souk which is way far south - here's a map link: http://www.vacationsmap.com/en/saudi-arabia/makkah/jeddah/poi/marketplace/petromin-souq-map
      The magnets can be bought a variety of places - you just need to ask.
      The cards are available at Al Raya Markets at the little shops just outside the bigger supermarket.
      The scarfs are offered at Kalimah Brand Shops - there is one in the Red Sea Mall, lower level.

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  10. I like the teapots. One might find Aladdin's lamp amongst them.

    Is the woman the pepper shaker?

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    1. Hi djdfr - I would guess that most people would use the man for the salt since he is dressed in white, and the woman for pepper, since she is in black. Makes sense.

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  11. You found a lot of nice stuff!

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    1. Thanks, Susanne - I wish it were easier to find souvenirs here. I am always on the lookout for stuff and there is no telling where I might find it.

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  12. I love the playing cards!

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    1. Hi Anonymous - Me too - they are among my faves! Useful, inexpensive and fun!

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  13. Fun post. An enterprising person could find a market for more souvenirs. An SA calendar? Maybe a blank page diary with beautiful calligraphy on the outside covers? An egg timer with Saudi sand inside? Charms for a traveler's bracelet? Tea towels with well known buildings? You get my drift...

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    1. Hi Oakland - If I had the money, I would start a souvenir business here. There is definitely a market for it.

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  14. Hi Susie... i really like the deck of cards.... where can I find them? I would like to have 4 decks if possible.

    thanks
    Nanie

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  15. Hi , the salt and pepper shaker is not KSA style but UAE , the women wearing on face is traditional UAE.

    Neaman

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  16. Hy Susie, I love the playing cards and I think they would be a great souvenir to bring back home :) can you tell me where you bought those? I have no idea where to get them...thanks e.

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    1. Hi Anon - I am trying to find out where my nephew got the cards. He had a deck and when I saw them, I asked him to get me some for gifts, so he did.

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    2. The playing cards were purchased at a shop called "Al-Rayan Market" and is located in Al-Rehab District.

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  17. i know I might be very late, but do u remember where u got the magnets from ?1

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    1. Yes, I buy them from vendors at the monthly British Women's Group meetings.

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  18. Hi Ms.Susie.i only want to know where i can buy a refrigerator magnet souvenirs the same as you have..my friend just requested it to me ..i'm here in jeddah but cant find one.thanks.

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    1. I bought them from a vendor at a monthly meeting I go to. I believe I do have their business card at home in Jeddah, but I am in the states now.

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  19. no such place ?

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  20. Hi Susie, your post made me smile because like you when I first arrived in Saudi 5 years ago I was desperate to find local gifts to take home. I found the choice very limited and it prompted me to start my own Saudi gifts business (www.saudi-gifts.com) which is a collection of locally made arabian inspired gifts. We work with a number of organisations, handicrafts centres, charities in Saudi and beyond, as well as individual artists, designers and artisans. I'd love your feedback on our website and whether you'd recommend any new items. Thanks! Florence

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  21. Hi Florence - Good for you! Your website is lovely and the items are beautiful. And you have my good friend Blue Abaya's phone covers too. Wishing you all the best with your business.

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  22. hi there are you still in red sea mall? thanks

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  23. hi there susie...are these is still available in red sea mall? thanks

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    1. The Kalimah Store is still on the lower level of Red Sea Mall as far as I know. They have great Saudi themed stuff but I don't know if they still have what I have pictured in this post.

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  24. Hi, where do you buy the clay houses??? Any particular place in Dammam you would recommend?

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  25. Hi, where do you buy the clay houses??? Any particular place in Dammam you would recommend?

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    1. Hi Jose - I haven't ever been to Dammam, but I have seen the clay houses in many places here in Jeddah and Riyadh.

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  26. Hi do you still have camel ref magnet? Thank you

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  27. hi ms. susie, where did you buy that kalimah brand ladies long sleeved Tshirt with shemagh and the purses with arabic calligraphy

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  28. Kalimah Store is located on the lower level of the Red Sea Mall. The purses with Arabic calligraphy were purchased at the Petromin Souk, to the far south of Jeddah. I have seen similar ones at other places too, but the prices at Petromin Souk can't be beat.

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  29. i really love your blog Miss Susie, it is so fun to read and informative as well. i love how you are sharing your experience in the kingdom. As an Overseas Filipino Worker for years now, your experience in Saudi is just like mine. I love Saudi and most of all i like the people too.

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    1. Hi Jonathan - Thanks so much for your comment. I'm glad you have had a good experience here as well.

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  30. Hi ms susie...
    I love reading your blogs and it helps me a lot in discovering places where my child can enjoy. Thanks much!
    Regarding ref magnets where i can buy in jeddah? Thanks!

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