We went to the Princess Souq this morning.
I doubt a princess has ever actually set foot in the Princess Souq. The name is rumored to derive from the many dresses you can find at this market, supposedly the cast off clothes of Saudi royalty.
The Princess Souq makes up a small part of the Second Hand Souq which itself is a huge area that can be found down Bat’ha way. Bat’ha in Riyadh is akin to Otara in Auckland a few years back. This should give you an idea of what the Princess Souq is. One rather large canvas covered, tattered carpeted bargain bin for second-hand clothes.
|Photo credit: Canandian In Riyadh|
You can find clothing for all ages at the Princess Souq. Children’s clothing can be purchased very cheaply as can second-hand abayas, though finding one complete with matching headscarf can be a real chore if not nigh impossible. The large desert coats can be found here too. Before we leave the country we’ll be back to the souq sussing one out to take home.
Many expat women go the Princess Souq for the dresses. There are racks and racks of dresses. Some are beautiful. Others are spectacular in an over beaded and bauble exaggerated way. You could spend hours sifting through the masses hanging on the racks marveling at, and commenting on, just what exactly dress designers were thinking when they threw so much decoration on a dress.
I prefer visiting the souq in the morning – there tend to be less people about so you can browse in a more leisurely manner and, more importantly, there is plenty of light. Evenings are a bit dingy and very crowded at the Princess Souq.
As well as looking at the clothing one should always be on the lookout for Desperate & Disgusting dirty men. They will follow you about, attempting to rub up against or grope at you. It is recommended to go with friends to the Princess Souq (or a male if you have one willing to accompany you) but you and your companions should remember not to clog up the alleyways. The Desperate & Disgusting think a path full of expat women is a perfect time to walk down the aisle and and will grope at the nearest butt on their way past. The nice men (and I have to say there are a number of these to be found) usually say ‘excuse me’ from a gentlemanly distance allowing you to move aside so they can pass.
Also beware of streaming which is only likely to happen where larger groups of the D&D’s go shopping. That’s when a group of D&D males will form two lines forcing women to walk between them. Groping of major proportions goes on for the trapped females as the men stream past.
If you find yourself being followed by just one sleeze ball type at the Princess Souq and you have no intention of letting the varmint upset your day it pays to take action. Ignoring these types is a bad idea as the creepy crawly grapevine tends to spread word of innocent, unaware expat shoppers and soon slugs aplenty start hanging around.
So, attract the attention of one of the shopkeepers who will usually chase the D&D away. Either that or stare the dirty blighter down so he knows that you know what he has in mind – he’ll usually scurry off then. A well chosen swear word spat with as much venom and as much volume as you’re comfortable displaying is also a good option at this point. Not exactly lady like behavior at the so-called Princess Souq but reasonable given the circumstance.
Princess Souq location:
Princess Souq is located in the south west corner of the Second Hand Souq (know in Arabic as Haraj) which itself is located in the Manfuha area in south east Riyadh. I usually take King Fahad Road, turn on to the Southern Ring Road then go off at Al Batha Road. You will see Haraj on your left and will have to U-turn further up Al Batha Road to come back to it. Then weave your way through the masses of house ware and furniture to find the clothes that make up Princess Souq – good luck!