Shopping in Saudi Arabia


Read more about
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

General Info

Ettiquette and Custom

Appropriate Dress

Shopping

Healthcare Issues

Tips for Newcomers

Travel Websites you will find useful if you are travelling to Saudi Arabia

This is the site you need for all embassy info and paperwork!
www.dfa.gov.za

A fantastic wealth of info on travelling Middle East - maps, culture info, currency info, laws and custom, tourist info
www.arab.net/saudi/index.html

A good source of info on both the legal aspects and tourist info
www.saudiembassy.net

A question everyone asks: 'Where will I live?' This site will answer all your accommodation queries
www.arabian-homes.com


Business Hours
The weekend is Friday. Business firms and banks are open on Thursday morning. Almost all banks offer 24-hour ATM card service. Most shops and companies begin their workday at 09:00 and close around 1:00 or 2:00. They then re-open at 4:00 or 5:00 and shops stay open until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. All places of business will close five times a day for prayer. The prayer times change daily and are published in the local newspaper. During Ramadan, the shops are closed (grocery stores are open) during the day, open at 9:00 or 10:00 or 2:00 am.

The stores carry a wide variety of American / European foods and household items. Be advised that US goods are more expensive than in the States. Try eating food produced from the local economy, it’s good and very reasonable.

SOUQ
The Souq(or souk) is the Arabic word for market. Here you will find some items typical of the region, e.g., handicraft and gold. Also there are items imported from India, Pakistan, the Far East and Europe. Many items, especially gold, are less expensive. The souq is where you will find fabrics, clothing, shoes, spices and household items.

Be sure to ask for a discount in all small retail shops. The only shops with fixed prices are grocery stores, the European / American stores (such as British Home Stores) and some shops in the large malls. However, no one is offended if you ask for a discount and sometimes you’ll be surprised. The traditional souqs still expect the customer to haggle over the price. Don’t be inhibited. Take your time, keep cool, and enjoy tea if it’s offered. Bargaining is a social event.

Practice comparison-shopping, ask your friends what prices they paid (especially for large items) try shopping in quantity. Buy early for holiday items. Go to the vegetable souq and split boxes with your friends.

Returns and exchanges are not allowed in many stores. Few stores have dressing rooms for women to try on clothes. If you ask before you buy it, you may get permission to return it if it does not fit. Take a tape measure along or a similar item or clothing in order to compare sizes. Sometimes sizes are not marked or are different than what you are accustomed to.