Souq Al-Zal, a traditional market in Riyadh, brings together the past and present of the Kingdom, giving the younger generation a chance to experience life in a different age, while elderly visitors can expect strong feelings of nostalgia.
Part of the third Riyadh Season, the zone gives a glimpse into the Kingdom’s rich heritage through folklore, traditional events, restaurants and cafes, in addition to showcasing unique vintage items.
The zone, which kicked off on Dec. 11, coincides with the start of winter. The market is full of fur and leather clothes, cloaks and embroidered headscarves.
One of the stores, Al-Mujahid Clothing, is a treasure trove of winter bishts, a traditional outwear garment worn by men.
The shop’s owner, Musaed bin Migrin Al-Mujahid, is carrying on his family’s legacy of making the best bishts in Riyadh.
Al-Mujahid, whose family has been in the bisht business for decades, told Arab News: “My father set up our shop in the other side of this large market for 25 years. Forty-five years ago, I moved to this newer side with my sons.”
The royal bishts are produced using Made in Saudi fabrics suitable for winter, fall, summer and spring.
Al-Mujahid also offers swords, especially for Ardah, a traditional dance. Regular swords are sold for SR50 ($14) while those made with gold and silver range from SR50,000 to SR200,000.
Visitors to the zone can also see rare valuables such as binoculars, cassette tapes, old newspapers, vintage accessories, pocket watches and sabha’s or praying beads.
In one stall at Souq Al-Zal, Rashid Abu Hamid has spent more than 60 years preserving the rarest Najdi collectibles, including 120-year-old coffee pots, trays, pottery, wood and old industrial tools.
He said that visitors prefer to buy old coffee pots, especially those that still maintain their luster no matter how old they are.
Abu Hamid, who used to be an arts teacher, said that the market is popular with the elderly because it “touches their hearts” and “shows them the world in which they grew up.”
He added that the importance of Souq Al-Zal lies in educating visitors and introducing them to the Kingdom’s heritage so that they can preserve it.
Souq Al-Zal will receive visitors until Jan. 3 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.