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Shopping in Yemen


Nearly every Yemeni city, town, and village has some sort of shopping, usually in the form of a souk (market). Souks are attractions in themselves, and ideal places for visitors to learn the culture, language, and customs of Yemen all in one go. Souks can run daily, weekly, or seasonally. The jambiya (curved dagger), which is worn by men, is the most sought-out item among visitors and can be purchased on its own or with a case. Handmade belts and items made of silver can also be seen in many souks across the country. Jewellery made from gold and semi-precious stones is favoured among female visitors.


Souk Al Milh is the largest souk in the country and perhaps even the entire Arabian Peninsula. It can be found in the heart of Sana’a Old City and although its name translates to ‘Salt Market’, there is more than just salt sold here. There are around 30 specialised souks, including souks of fabrics, gold, spices, artisans, and Yemeni pearls. Be prepared to barter but don’t expect drastic reductions on the original asking price when doing so. The market, which is somewhat of a small town within the Old City, is surrounded by beautiful tower houses with distinctive Yemeni qamariya stained-glass windows.

The National Women's Centre for Development Handicrafts and Hope in their Hands are two non-profit organisations located inside the same building with the joint aim of increasing the financial independence of Yemeni women. This is done through workshops where the women, who are often widowed or divorced, learn skills such as sewing and weaving. The resulting products are then sold in the two downstairs shops, which together are the best place in Sana'a to buy souvenirs.

Yemeni honey is well known and honey shops can be found throughout the capital, including Zubairy Street, though the honey sold is not cheap: around YR2,500 for 500 g. Beautiful honeycombs (conveniently packaged in sealed metal discs) cost around YR2,000 to around YR8,000, depending on quality. A decent honey shop in the old city is Tariq Honey Shop, near the Sheba Art Gallery, where the gift of bees is also likely to come with gifts of Islamic literature.





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