We’ve written about Dirah Souk in the blog before. You can check out this article and this. Last night, Reina and I headed to Dirah Souk again because we want to find out what changed in the old market since our visit in 2013, wow that was almost 6 years ago! Along with the changes happening in the city center, for sure these changes are also felt in the local souks located in the heart of old Riyadh. If you don’t know it yet, Dirah Souk is beside the Masmak Fort, the clay and mud-brick fort built in the 1865 captured by King Abdulaziz Al Saud to take control of Riyadh in the old times. This area of Riyadh, where Masmak Fort and Dirah souk are located, is steeped with history and culture. It’s a great place to visit when you’re in Riyadh. For us long-time residents of the city, we go here for shopping.
Dirah Souk aka Souk Al Thumairi is great for those…
Looking for affordable abayas
Yup, there’s no better souk in Riyadh to get abayas than Dirah Souk. Even the abayas in Kuwaiti Souk or Souk Taibah are no match in terms of prices. The SR 100 abayas in Kuwaiti souk can be bought in Dirah for SR 50. You’ll see racks of abayas outside the stores go for SR 50 and if you’re an expert in haggling and buying more than one, you can get them at lower prices!
The abayas in Dirah Souk have also changed throughout the years. If you read the first entry I wrote about Dirah, you’ll see the abayas there filled with bling and embellishments. They’re not my kind of abayas; I prefer the basic ones with no bling or gems or charms. I’m okay with color embroidery here and there and color blocking. We also like colored abayas, but not those that are too vibrant to attract unwanted attention. The abayas in Dirah have toned down in terms of style, cut and color. They’re well-made. The fabric don’t look cheap and they don’t crinkle easily.
If you go inside the shops, the abayas go for more than SR 50 but most of them still less than SR 100. There are a lot of kinds of abayas and your head will spin while looking at the endless styles and choices! I was telling Reina we need to get out of Dirah fast because with the rate our itch in forking over our money for these abayas are increasing, we will be bankrupt once again before we can even see the exit of this place, hahaha.
Looking for cheap accessories
So you have a party to go to but don’t want to spend on accessories that you might not use anymore. Well, head to Dirah and look for these stores selling accessories and jewelries for SR 10 only, or lower depending on what kind. They’re super cheap! From rings to necklaces to head bands and so much more! Of course, you don’t expect for high quality in these. Haha.
Looking for affordable bags
The shoulder bags and mini backpacks caught our eye. They were being sold from SR 30. Very affordable. Our tip is to just get the unbranded bags rather than the knock-offs because they do look cheap and can never pass off as the real thing, not even close. They have cute designs which can make boring outfits no so boring.
Looking for knockoff shoes
Do we have anything against knockoffs? We don’t buy them but if others want to because of budget constraints, it’s their life, it’s their money. We were amused to see these stores selling knockoff shoes for SR 10 up to SR 40. Pretty cheap right??? We don’t know if they’re sturdy though so buy at your own risk. Look at the items very carefully before buying them.
Looking for caftans/jalabiya/fustan
OMG, these caftans are so nice! Or are they jalabiyas? Fustan? We don’t know what to call them as they go by many names. Muslim or Arabic dresses, there! We were wondering tough what they’re usually for. Is it for lounging around the house (or mansion, haha)? Or is it for parties and events? We don’t know!
We don’t wear them but seeing them here, we think we want to now. Haha. And the dresses look expensive! Guess what their price is? SR 40. Yup! We entered one store and inquired as to what the caftans are really used for. We didn’t get an exact answer. Haha! But their dresses are made in Syria. The fabrics and designs are so beautiful. (Also, please enlighten us on caftans and lawn dresses more in the comment section below. Thank you!)
Looking for kids’ stuff
There’s also a store offering fancy frocks for girls. For those looking for flower girls’ dresses, you might want to check these out.
There are also toys and accessories for your kids. A gift perhaps?
Looking for phone accessories
Reina has a new phone so she was looking for a case for it. There are smaller stores selling phone accessories and some of them are cute, some of them are bordering on tacky. Haha. She found a furry case in one of the pop-up store in one of the alleyways. Cases go for SR 20 above.
There are so much more to see in this souk. Perfumes, watches, fabrics, toys… ahhh it’s endless. It’s also easy to get lost but just look for the nearest exit and you’ll eventually get your bearings.
We tried mapping out Dirah souk like what we did with Souk Taibah. It’s difficult though because unlike Taibah, the stores are not clustered according to what they sell. Almost every alleyway in Dirah has a store selling abayas, clothes, and other knick-knacks. There are small bakalas in between. There are snack kiosks in the center selling popcorn, cotton candy, corn, and more in the middle while there are carts in the souk perimeter. So, just enter one of the gates of the souk and immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of this old yet much beloved souk. You will discover an array of stuff in each alley. Think of yourself as Harry Potter in Diagon Alley. Only this time, you’re shopping for abayas instead of robes! 😉
Sweigah Trading Market
3265 Al Imam Turki Ibn Abdullah Ibn Muhammad, Ad Dirah,
Riyadh 12634, Saudi Arabia