Most Popular Souvenirs from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
If you are headed to Sharjah, the cultural capital of United Arab Emirates, this post can give you a fair idea of the most popular souvenirs sold in the souks there. This is not about what is found in modern malls but those in the traditional souks frequented by locals. I always thought that Sharjah being in a desert country could have nothing of its own… how wrong I was! Because, as I scoured through the souks of Sharjah I realized there was not one but plenty to take back home. The 30kg allowance in Air Arabia flight to back home was a source of courage to shop and shop.
Souvenirs from Sharjah
Dates grown in UAE
The first to attract me were the dates. Khallas, Nabut Saif, Sakii, AbouMaan, Hallawi, Khissab, Jabiri, Hillali, Lulu, Chichi, Khadraoui, Sultana, Barhi, Khenezi varieties – the salesman went on… Which one do you want? I couldn’t believe when I was told UAE grows 120 varieties of dates! My head was spinning trying to comprehend the names he rattled out in one breath! Later I read up ‘date tree’ population in UAE is about 40 millions!!! It was really hard to choose one or two of those varieties. Do you know why dates are taken first while breaking fast? Our tour guide explained:
Dates are easy to digest, decreases feeling of hunger, and prepares stomach to receive food after being inactive for long by activating release of digestive secretions. And also prevents constipation as a result of changing meals times.
In addition to dates other food souvenirs that you can pick up are the herbs, spices and dry fruits. Most of these are imported from other countries. And they have chocolates too! I had a good time sampling some of the dry fruits from Iran.
Carpets in Souks of Sharjah
The range of carpets I saw in Fujairah souk amazed me. They sell locally made carpets and many imported ones in the souks. The manner in which the shop was stuffed indicated it was a hot selling item in Sharjah. Fujairah souk is on the highway connecting Sharjah with other cities of UAE. It is easy to make big purchases and get them loaded on the vehicles. This is one reason why you will find carpet shops along highways. I was pleasantly surprised when the carpet dealer told me he had some products from Kashmir in India too.
You get to see all sizes of carpets. Most impressive among them are the wall to wall carpets! The designs and the colors used makes you dream of owning one. Price is bargain-able. It is advisable to quote your price half of what the carpet dealer says and after some haggling you do reach to a comfortable price range.
Handicraft Items in Sharjah
For the handmade souvenir lovers there are handicraft items too on sale in these souks. You get such colourful cute little handmade containers, closed boxes which you can use to keep knick knacks. They are made of palm leaves and interwoven with colourful threads, all so attractive that one tends to reach out to them. Emirati women use their skills to create modern designs. They make woven bags, bookmarks, bigger stuffs like tents, camel bags and carpets.
Life is about using the whole box of crayons. – RuPaul. Picture taken in Iranian Market (Souq Saqr) Sharjah United Arab Emirates. Handwoven baskets on sale. #colors #baskets #shopping #sharjahlf #sharjahtourism #handmade #circular #emirates #souq #market #sharjah #uae #travelblogger #traveltheworld #indianphotographers #lonelyplanetmagazineindia #handcrafts #crafts #natgeotravel #shophandmade #wandersociety #humaneffect #planetbestgram #worldmarket
Scarves as Gifts from Sharjah
Most of my friends purchased these scarves. They make such ideal gifts for your near and dear ones at home. They roll up to tiny balls and are light in weight and easy to pack. I am sure this definitely figures as a must buy in several tourists’ list. Girls use it in different ways including head covers and stoles. There are shops dedicated only for this. Each of them stuffed with different qualities, colors and patterns. Cost ranges from 10 to 15 Dirham.
Perfumes or Attar as called in Souks of Sharjah
The aroma is bound to attract your attention as you cross cluster of shops selling perfumes or Attar as locals call them. Fragrance is an important part of Arabic culture. They prefer the traditional oil based attar and use Frankincense a lot. As is their custom Frankincense was traditionally burned to cleanse rooms and clothes. If you are one of those who collect various perfumes from around the world, souks of Sharjah are ideal hunting grounds.
As I scanned I was amazed to find a whole range of incense, including frankincense, myrrh, oud and bukhoor. In addition to the traditional ones you will find commercial modern perfumes too. Among the traditional ones Oud is a great rarity! These are burned in Emirati households to waft through the clothes or used as a pure oil or in perfumes. Strangely Oud is derived from a disease infecting the agarwood tree. This variety fetches astronomical prices in the range of tens of thousands of dirhams a kilo. A ten gram pack will make an interesting and more affordable souvenir to take home! Bukhoor is another sought after incense. In the emirates, these compacted packs of scented ingredients are burned, just like oud, on a mubkhar, a traditional burner along with charcoal to release the smoky scent. Many Emirati families have their own ‘secret recipe’ for bukhoor!
Gold Jewelry from Blue Souk
And if you have that extra special person in your life whom you want to gift something extra special there is the yellow metal! Blue Souk has rows of shops stuffed to brim with gold ornaments. Strands upon strands of glittering gold, I have not seen something like that in India where people queue up purchase gold ornaments for any and every occasion possible. Gold is cheaper in UAE compared to India due to less making charges and less tax. I know most Indians will love this!
So? Could you make a choice which you will pick and pack from Sharjah?!
I am thankful to Sharjah Tourism Board and Air Arabia
for this FAM trip to Sharjah UAE in February 2017.