By Afifa Jabeen Quraishi
As you step inside ‘Beiut Al Badiyah’, you are greeted with a splash of colors. At a closer look, the colors transform into distinct Bedouin handicrafts comprising useful day-to-day articles as well as those for home furnishings.
Specializing in traditional Arabic style wedding décor, this store on Sitteen Street is packed with vibrant collections of wall clocks, handbags, curtains, necklaces, water bottle bags, jewelry boxes, cushions, TV stands, coffee pots and table covers – all done in a traditional style.
What first caught our attention was the ‘khaima’ – a nomadic tent style of Bedouin tribes – used even today, especially in weddings. The tent is made of traditional hand-woven Bedouin clothing, which sells for SR120-180 per meter. On enquiring what exactly was ‘Bedouin’ about the cloth, the storekeeper explained that only its design (or print) is Bedouin and that the material is actually imported from Syria and China. A variety of such clothing is available for individuals to choose from when ordering for their custom-made tents and other products.
‘Bayt shaar’ or out-of-doors tent – the size of a room or more – is perfect for an outdoor event and comes with a ‘guarantee’ against rain and storm.
Preserving ancient heritage and culture, the exquisite antiquities in the store was the highlight of our visit. Some of these include: ‘karoon’ – a golden chest adorned with Arabic verses that was used for smoking hookah, cooking meat, etc. in the olden days, and it is priced at SR1000, SR4000 and SR10,000 depending on its size; ‘mehmaas’ – a special metallic pan that was used to toast coffee over coals; ‘zeer’ – a clay pot that keeps food and water cool and according to the storekeeper, a popular item with the locals; ‘girba’ – original goat’s skin water bags used for making laban, ghee, etc.
Though none of these are used for their actual purposes today, they are no less than pieces of art and hence make potential collector’s items. Small multicolored squares of embroidered mats used for holding hot dallah pots and trendy bread baskets are a good buy if you want to make a statement at your next tea or dinner party. All in all, Biout Al Badiyah is worth checking out. However, these are not authentic Bedouin stuff because all articles in the store are imported from Syria, Pakistan, China and India, and so they are not exactly the ‘real thing’.