Saturday, December 2, 2017

Jeddah's Bastah Market

Last night was the opening of the seasonal open air Bastah Market, located in the heart of the business district adjacent to Jeddah's Corniche.  It is near the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and the world's largest flagpole.  

The market set-up reminds me of farmer's markets in the US, but on a much larger scale.  The market is in its third year of operation and is operated through the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce in an effort to highlight and support local start-up businesses.  It is open only on Fridays from 5-11pm, and runs from December 1, 2017, for 12 weeks only, and will end on February 16, 2018.

The booths are organized by rows, with about half of the businesses selling foods, drinks, and desserts.  The rest of the booths offer a wide variety of services, clothing, jewelry, accessories, art, handmade crafts, and many other unique items.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable time walking through the rows amidst the friendly smiling vendors and happy customers.  Frequently we could feel the delightful cool breezes coming off the nearby Red Sea.  Many booths were manned by family members, from grandparents down to children.  The market is very family friendly, with children's activities and a nearby playground for kids across the street. 

Creativity and charm abounds in the various items for sale. Much of the clothing incorporates traditional Saudi designs and fabrics in the abayas, dresses, shirts and scarves.  We were bombarded with free samples to taste from all the food booths, ranging from all kinds of tasty sweets to dried fruits to savory rice and meat dishes.  My advice would be to go there hungry and carry a big empty shopping bag with you!

While there were plenty of people on hand, I didn't feel it was too crowded for the opening night.
But I have a feeling that as word gets out about this weekly event, more and more throngs of visitors will make their way to it.  The upbeat mood made it evident to me that the people of Jeddah are hungry for this type of activity, making a fun night out with family and friends.

I hope you enjoy the rest of these photos from my visit to the Bastah Market...

Scrumptious desserts and sweets

A Saudi mom assisted at her booth by her young son

Food truck with sidewalk seating

Adorable colorful handmade girls' headbands

Three young entrepreneurs offering their own special milkshake creations

Food fit for a king

Talented Saudi women cooking up a storm

A safe family atmosphere, appealing to all ages

This family of magicians provided great entertainment

Adorable homemade baby toys

A very enjoyable activity in Jeddah's cooler winter months

Very cool and unique music boxes were offered at this booth

These smiling young ladies were hocking handmade hair accessories

The food offerings were varied and delicious

Serving the popular date filled cookies called mamool

One colorful booth after another

Boys serving up traditional Saudi hospitality in the form of Arabic coffee called gahwa

That's me speaking with one of the lovely dessert vendors

Bastah Market - Open Fridays only from 5pm until 11pm from December 1, 2017 through February 16, 2018.

Click HERE for a map location of Jeddah's Bastah Market


  1. So enjoyed seeing these pictures! I love markets in foreign countries because they are so telling of the culture and the people. I've lived in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and now France, and one of the first things I always do in a new country is check out the markets. Have never been to Saudi Arabia, so this was fun to see.

  2. Good to see you Susie.
    Looks like there was something for everyone.


  3. What lovely, smiling faces. And oh, the food!

  4. I noticed that many of the signs are in English. Is there a large English speaking audience? I assume children learn both languages in school?

    1. English is the mandatory foreign language required in schools here in Saudi Arabia. Most signs are in both Arabic and English. That's why I haven't been so motivated to learn Arabic - because almost everyone speaks some English and they like to practice with me!

  5. Are you not required to cover your hair?

    Do you miss the American holidays such as Thanksgiving? Do you celebrate Christmas? Are churches allowed?

    1. Covering of women's hair is a cultural and religious issue, not a mandatory law. Most non-Muslim expat women do not cover their hair. I generally do cover my hair when I am with my husband because he insists on it, however when I go places without him, I don't usually cover my hair.

      There are no churches here in Saudi Arabia. Proselytizing is illegal. Privately non-Muslims can practice their own religions.

      I do miss the American holidays. It's been many years since I have been able to regularly celebrate the holidays with my family, but it doesn't get any easier with every passing year. Some years are more difficult than others though. I have a little Christmas tree that I put up and a string of lights. My friends and I will get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas and the British Consulate usually has a big fete, but other than that, there is not much that I do other than have a holiday movie marathon by myself. Thanks for asking.

  6. Hi Susie

    I enjoyed seeing an Arabian open air market. The food and desserts looked so enticing! My husband is a native of Southern Italy, and fig cookies are very popular during the Christmas season and there are many outdoor markets there such as this where spices, food and wares are sold.

  7. bookmarked!!, I love your website!

  8. Hello Susie,

    The market looks like a fun place to explore. Lots of goodies and yummy food. It is great to see all the smiling happy faces. Great series of photos.
    Thanks so much for the comment and visit.
    I hope you have a happy day and week ahead.

  9. Hey very nice blog!