Magic Carpets

Take a look around the wild, rugged almost uninhabited plateau near the top of Jebel Shams and you could be forgiven for thinking this the last place on earth to buy a carpet. But you'd be wrong! Rug-weaving here, produced on hand looms and respecting the distinctive local patterns, is a tradition that extends back centuries. With the increase in tourism, there is a current resurgence in this cottage industry, and you are bound to encounter a stall selling the earthy-toned rugs during your visit. In fact, you need only step from your vehicle and you’ll find carpet sellers appear from nowhere clutching piles of striped red-and-black goat-hair rugs; they seem so incongruous given the barren landscape that one suspects they've arrived on the back of the carpets they carry.

Weaving is a profitable local industry, but don’t expect a bargain. A large rug can cost anything from OR30 to OR80, depending on the colours used and the complexity of the pattern. Weaving is men’s work on Jebel Shams; spinning the wool is women’s work. If you can’t find room for a carpet, a spindle made from juniper wood makes a more portable souvenir. Failing that, buy a woollen key fob (OR1) from the army of children who come with colourful fistfuls of them wherever you find to camp.

There are several places to buy rugs on Jebel Shams, one at the bottom of the mountain ascent by Wadi Ghul, one at the top of the mountain by the viewpoint, and another near the Balcony Walk.