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From imposing architecture marvels to bustling atmosphere to chaotic medieval markets; Middle East is truly a land to behold. Here is the list of 10 exotic souks in Middle East that give an authentic flavour of Arabic culture.

  Grand Bazaar, Istanbul – Best place for antique jewelry shopping in Istanbul

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Where: Istanbul

What’s so special?

Be prepared to get lost in one of the largest covered markets of the world, with its 4000 shops and 60 streets that attract around 2,50,000 to 4,00,000 tourists daily. Grand Bazaar is renowned for its hand printed ceramics, beautiful Turkish carpets, gazed tiles and pottery, embroideries, jewelleries, spices and antique shops.  Once you are done with shopping, you can simply explore the complex as it houses two mosques, two hamams, four fountains and several restaurants and cafes.

         Gold Souk, Dubai – Best place for Gold shopping in Duba

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Where: Dubai

What’s so special?

Internationally renowned as the crowning jewel in Dubai’s souks collection, the Gold Souk is located in Al Ras area of Deira. A visit to Gold Souk truly shows why Dubai has earned the sobriquet of ‘The City of Gold’. Along the narrow lanes are over 300 jewellery shops, where each window is crammed with gold bangles, rings, earrings, and necklaces made in pure gold. You can find the cheapest gold in the world at this unique souk, where you can also buy diamonds, platinum and silver jewellery occasionally. So, even if you have no intention to buy, you can simply soak in the glitzy atmosphere of this Gold Souk!

           Camel Souk, Al Ain – One of the UAE’s functioning Camel Market

Camel Souk

Where: Al Ain

What’s so special?

The last of its kind in the UAE, the Camel souk in Al Ain offers an excellent opportunity to see the giant animals up close. This marketplace gives an interesting insight into the Arab culture. In this Garden City, camels are brought by trucks and lined up for auction in the souk. The bidding can get quite heated and is a great experience for anyone looking to be right in the midst of this unique Emirati tradition.

Carpet Souk, Abu Dhabi

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Where: Abu Dhabi

What’s so special?

The world of magic and colours, Carpet Souk in Abu Dhabi is the only place for those who are looking to buy some customary Arabic carpets and cushions as a souvenir. Check out the stunning array of colours and designs of the carpets and prayer shrugs here, which are mainly brought from Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Central Asia and China.

Blue Souk, Sharjah

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Where: Sharjah

What’s so special?

Designed as a bazaar on a grand scale, Blue Souk or Central Souk is one of the most impressive landmarks of Sharjah with its 600 shops in two interconnected buildings. The souk is spread over two storeys, where the ground floor is mostly filled with Arabic clothing, gold and gemstones, while the upper floor houses items like carpets from Iran, silver Bedouin jewellery, Kashmiri textiles and much more.

Khan El Khalili, Cairo

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Where: Cairo

What’s so special? 

Hidden inside the greatest wall of Cairo, steeped in history, Khan El Khalli is Egypt’s most famous and probably one of the oldest souks in the world with a history dating back to 1382. Once you reach the market, you will see the remarkable Hussein mosque just behind this vibrant souk, where you can get great deals on everything. The non-stop chatter by the vendors (be prepared to hear outrageous statements like “tell me what you want, I have everything”), is a delight in itself. Put your bargaining skills on test when buying spices, art pieces, perfumes, fabrics, souvenirs, belly dancing costumes and Egyptian statues.

Spice souk, Dubai

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Where: Dubai

What’s so special?

If you did not know where you have reached, you will probably think you are in India. Located just next to Gold Souk, the colourful array of spices and their aroma is just tantalizing. The streets are aligned with stores selling all kinds of herbs and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, chilli, turmeric, curry, cloves and lots more. And if that is not enough, you can also find basmati rice, dry fruits, tobacco, shishas and seductive perfumes. Here, you cannot get over the incredible numbers and varieties of spices available.

Looking for flights to India? Try these.. if you are looking for travel from Dubai, you can check out Dubai to Chennai flights, or if you are flying from Sharjah, you can find some good offers for Sharjah to Chennai flights!

Muttrah Souk, Muscat

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Where: Muscat

What’s so special?

An amazing amalgamation of thousands of fragrances will welcome you to the winding alleys of Muttrah souk. The vibrant and chaotic Muttrah souk is the most famous and oldest souk located in Muscat city. From its traditional Arabic attars to latest perfumes, you will get everything under one roof here. You will be spoilt for choice while buying perfumes, but no worry, the smart vendors will help you out in selecting one. Tourists from all over the world come to this souk, shopping for woolen carpets, folk art, and clothing.

Jemaa el Fnaa, Marrakesh 

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Where: Marrakesh

What’s so special?

If you are looking for chaos and craziness, then you will definitely find it at the night market in Marrakech. The most incredible and biggest draw of Marrakech is the Jemma el Fnaa night market. During the day, Jemma el Fnaa square and its surrounding narrow streets are a shopping paradise – an exciting and fun place where you can get insights into Moroccan culture. But the real magic happens at night, when this mysterious square gets converted into a land of Arabian fantasies, and it gets even better when it turns into a busy open-air food market.

Textiles souk, Dubai

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Where: Dubai

What’s so special?  

If one truly wants to get a classic experience of Arabic shopping, then one must really venture out into the Textiles souk in Dubai. No matter what clothing material you are looking for – fancy dresses, curtains, bed-sheets or some traditional wear clothes, this souk has everything in it. The shops in Dubai’s Textile Souk are a treasure trove of textiles, rainbow-hued colours, weaves, textures and embroideries from around the world.

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