Souq Marbarakia

Top choice market in Kuwait City

Image by JD Dallet Getty Images

Once the centre of trade before the nation found oil, Kuwait City's old souq has retained its sprawling, bustling glory. The historical centre of the market has been added to, with modern buildings and kind of sub-souqs, such as Souq Al Wataniy, Souq Al Hareem and Souq Ad Dahab Al Markazi. Wandering around them all is a wonderful sensory experience, with colourful stalls and air permeated with rich spices. Shoppers haggle over everything from olives and dates to ox tails.

In the area named Souq Al Hareem, Bedouin women sit cross-legged on cushions of velvet selling kohl (black eyeliner), pumice stones and gold-spangled dresses in the red, white and green livery of the Kuwaiti flag. Beyond the covered alleyway, the souq opens out into lanes stocked with woollen vests and Korean blankets. The close-by Souq Ad Dahab Al Markazi is the city’s central gold market, and many shops also glitter with wedding gold and local pearls around the perimeter of Souq Marbarakia.

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