Souq (sometimes spelled as “souk”) is the Arabic term for market. Today, we’re writing about a souk that probably has it all. You might know this market as Souq Taibah or Kuwaiti Souk or Ladies Souk; we know it as the souk where you’ll probably find what you’re looking for. Souk Taibah is one of the oldest “malls” in Riyadh, quite old that when you look at it, you will no longer consider it as a “mall” because malls in Riyadh nowadays are sleek and huge and all lit up with two floors or more. But Souq Taibah is as important as these modern malls in a Riyadhizen’s shopping experience in the city. It is considered as the ladies market because most of the items and products sold in the souk’s alleys are for women: abayas, make-up, gold, traditional clothing, accessories, bags, etc. The souk gets filled with people especially at night and it’s easy to get lost in its labyrinth of shops and stores. It’s truly fascinating and beguiling to say the least. Souk Taibah will get into a shopaholic’s heart easily and you’ll probably have a hard time leaving without buying anything. I’m not sure what we can advise you when visiting this souk: beware (you’ll probably end up buying things you didn’t know you need) or enjoy (both its traditional and modern flairs) or both.
Taibah Market is located along King Fahd Road just before you reach Souq Owais (another souk we’ll discuss on a future entry) and the twisting tower of Al Majdoul. Just drive towards Riyadh Gallery and you’ll see it on your right side. Taibah Souq is huge! From the ground, you’ll easily get lost because stalls that carry different items are scattered everywhere. From time to time, you’ll see gold stores then you’ll spot an abaya store in between. Or a makeup shop jutting from stores that sell clothes. But from above (when you check your Google map at least), you’ll see that it’s pretty easy to understand the lay-out of Souk Taibah and where to find specific items. And if you disregard those one stores that are our of place, the whole lay-out will eventually make sense. Here, we made it easy for you to look at the big picture (or map):
Most of the stores that offer the same thing are grouped together. But like I mentioned earlier, there are some that are mixed with some groups. However, the lay-out is basically like that. Let’s break those areas one-by-one, shall we?
AREA ALONG KING FAHD ROAD
You probably don’t notice Souk Taibah that much because when you’re driving along King Fahd Road, you’ll only see stores selling carpets all lined up in this area. Well, that’s because those green block on the photo above? Yep, they’re all Aladdin’s stores. Lol.
They sell carpets for your floors, or walls maybe! I still remember in 2008, before we moved in to our flat, this is where our friends took me to choose the carpet that will be placed in my room. I ogled at the different designs of the carpets and ran my hand through the plush carpets. I wanted the thicker ones but of course, budget told me to pick a thinner one. Eights years later and my carpet with flower design still looks good as new! Anyway, if you’re looking for carpets, this is the place to go. You’ll spend hours just choosing which is the best one for your homes if you’re as indecisive as me.
AREA ALONG PRINCE NAYEF ROAD (opposite Al Owais Souk)
B. Gold Souk
In the gold souk, you’ll find all kinds of jewelries done in gold. Remember this article I wrote in 2012? I mentioned Souk Taibah along with Manila Plaza and the now defunct Shola Shopping Plaza as places where you’ll find gold jewelries in Riyadh.
Souk Taibah offers more designs of gold accessories but I noticed that they don’t sell as many wedding rings here (go to Batha for those). They do have engagement rings though and my husband bought my engagement ring here (he refuses to disclose what store exactly, haha). More famous jewelry brands like Damas, Al-Romaizan, etc. line up the souk. You’ll see them immediately and if you want high quality gold, then go for these stores. There are other gold stores inside the souk though and you barter all you want. Use your charms and haggle! It will also be wise to inquire and shop around before zeroing on some thing when shopping in Souk Taibah.
C. Home Stuff. Adjacent to the gold souk is the area where stores selling homes decors and home stuff are. There are stores selling “traditional” items. When we say “traditional”, think of lamps, majlis seats, decors with Arabic patterns, tea sets, kettles, etc. These are the items you’ll want to give as gifts to families and friends back home (if you’re an expat) or items you want to decorate your houses or rooms with. You’ll also find traditional clothes here; long dresses used in the homes for women with the all too familiar floral patterns and thobes for men. You’ll also find spices and herbs and a few old-fashioned stores here selling candies of your childhood (if you grew up in Saudi Arabia).
There are also stores that sell home wares and goods. If you’re decorating your house or filling up your kitchen with fancy dinnerware and tableware, then you will find what you’re looking here.
AREA ALONG OLAYA ROAD
D. Makeup and Abayas
This is probably the area that thrilled me the most. Makeup and abaya in one place? Yes please!
So I saw this one store with display shelves filled with makeup from floor to ceiling! I got so excited! You know me and makeup. But when I entered, I didn’t know if I’ll be happy or what. The makeup looked authentic and original but upon closer inspection, I can tell that they’re not. Some of them might be real and some of them might not be real and that’s what created this conflicting feelings in me. The salesmen are saying they were authentic but when I inspected the product, especially those cosmetics that I also own, I can see and feel the difference. The bad thing? The ones they sell in Souk Taibah are even more expensive! HUH?!
Some of the products are also non-existent, like Urban Decay Naked Palette 4 or 5. Ermn… they haven’t launched that, folks! Urban Decay doesn’t have Naked brush sets too. So you know what I mean? Some of their products might be authentic but seeing those that are not is making me doubt them. Deep in my heart, I cannot trust these makeup stores. If you’re more trusting and don’t care for authenticity or maybe you’re more knowledgeable than me in spotting fake and real ones, then go ahead and take the plunge. Buy your makeup, makeup tools, and equipment here. They also have skincare and hair care items. Some of the oilsI see from iHerb, I saw here. But then again, I’m not sure how authentic they are! Ahhhh the dilemma!
In between these makeup stores are the booths selling abayas.
Compared to the abayas in Dirah Souk, the ones here are more subtle in their designs but they look more elegant and sophisticated. They have less bling and less embellishments. If you’re looking for winter abayas with thicker fabrics, then this is the place to go. If you’re looking for abayas with unique styles and color blocking designs, you will find them here. The prices though are a bit steep at SR 250 and above for those said abayas. But, what’s a Riyadhizen without your haggling power? We’re pretty sure you can convince the salesmen to decrease the prices.
Some shops also have tailors already so you can have them customize the abaya according to what you want. I bought an abaya for SR 140. It has those little snaps for closure so I had the tailor stitch them together permanently. I also made the sleeves tighter. So those little things that you want for your abaya to wear more comfortably, you can immediately request them in the abaya stores here. Just make sure they have a tailor that can do this for you.
AREA ALONG ABDULLAH IBN AL ARQAM STREET (opposite a vacant lot/parking space)
E. Crafts/School and Office Supplies
The blue area there is for one important bookstore named Al-Shark. If you haven’t set foot in Al-Shark Bookstore then you didn’t probably become a student in Riyadh, or you were not a parent of a student in Riyadh. Al-Shark Bookstore is the go-to store for students because it has books, school supplies, and items for whatever project or craft. It also has school bags and lunch boxes. They also have items for your office from pens to staplers to scotch tape to folders and binders! The prices here are reasonable too that’s why Riyadhizens love this bookstore. The only downside to having every thing in this store is that it can get messy and disorganized from time to time. It’s hard to sort out and sift through bins and shelves for what you need. There are staff though that cleans up and organizes the items again.
F. Children’s Stuff and Toys
We weren’t specifically looking for a gift for a friend who recently gave birth when we went to Souk Taibah. It was a bit early but it was at the back of my mind. And then we chanced upon stores of baby and kids’ stuff! There were cribs, strollers, clothes, and bibs. There are also sets that can be bought as gifts for babies. We purchased a bag that can hold a lot of baby things like bottles, diapers, blankets, etc. for our friend. They have pretty stylish “mommy bags”! A few feet away is a toy store where you can get cheaper alternatives to the more expensive ones found in the malls. They have a lot of toys to choose from. In between these stores are shops that sell luggage and travel bags.
G. Clothes and Accessories and Others
It’s hard to divide the lines between the areas of Kuwaiti souk. Sometimes the stores overlap but what I can remember is there are clothing stores in the area where I denoted as “G”. There are also shoes and accessories that are mostly unbranded goods and overruns.
In between the shops and stores we mentioned above, you’ll find stores selling other items like fabric, eye frames, oud, etc.
Lining the edges of Kuwaiti souks are side walk vendors that sell all things cute! We saw these letter lamps, house decors, mobile phone accessories, etc. They also have knock-off bags and dupes for luxury items there.
There are so much to see in Souk Taibah! Most of the stores open after 4:00 in the afternoon and the parking lot can get really crowded so I suggest go there as early as possible. Bring your eco bags so you don’t have to bring a lot of plastic bags. Also don’t wear your fancy abayas and heels in this place. Haha! I can compare Souk Taibah to Tutuban in Manila. It’s not as disorienting as Divisoria but it’s chock full of items and products that you think you didn’t need but you buy anyway. Haha! Happy souk shopping, Riyadhizens!
Souk Taibah / Kuwaiti Souk / Ladies Market
Along King Fahd Road
RIyadh, Saudi Arabia