Top choice market in Kuwait City

Image by JD Dallet Getty Images

True to its origins, Kuwait City has retained the old souq in all of its complex, bustling and convoluted glory in the city centre. Albeit partly housed now in a series of smart, modern buildings that replicate the souqs of old with varying degrees of success, it nonetheless exudes antique practices, from the sharp haggling over ribands of offal and tails of ox to the quick-witted trading of olives and dates in the extensive food halls of Souq Marbarakia.

It’s a wonderful place to idle away a few hours, and indeed an entire lunchtime could be spent sampling delicacies without ever setting foot in one of the numerous snack shops that line the outer rim of the souq.

The souq also comprises the small, covered Souq Al Hareem, where 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 spangle with wedding gold and local pearls around the perimeter of Souq Marbarakia.