Find traditional arts and crafts, tasty food and unique gifts.
Ahmed Hasanian strolls through the market alleyway, with its castle-like walls and strings of bright twinkling white lights overhead. He’s well known here. As he passes vendors, he greets them and usually extends his hand for a handshake.
“We focus on making the whole experience of the market perfect. From the parking lot, to the washrooms, cleanliness and look and feel of the place,” said Hasanian, the business development manager for Benchmark Events.
The Friday Market – which has a long history in the Gulf – is regaining popularity in Jeddah, thanks to a partnership between Benchmark Events and the Municipality of Jeddah.
“Back in the day, there used to be souqs after Jumaa prayers. That’s part of our inspiration to bring it back to the current days.”
On his walk towards the outdoor food court, Hasanian steps over a Snapchat logo spray-painted on the pavement, a reminder that this is a modern market.
Vendors sell a variety of things including locally made arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing and food. There’s a well-lit outdoor food court with lots of seating, a large activity area for children and an entertainment venue called “Lights On” that hosts a wide range of entertainment.
Meet The Vendors
Seated on a rug in the artist’s corner of the market, Mohamed Habib bends thin wires and wedges them into a three-dimensional wire sculpture.
His collection of beautifully twisted wire sculptures – including an eagle, violin, and scorpion – are displayed in front of him.
“The Friday Market is good for me because it gives me a lot of attention. Tourists come here from inside and outside of the Kingdom,” said Habib.
His passion started when, at eight years old, he twisted wire hangers into birdcages.
Surrounded by other artists who use the rented space as a studio, Habib has not only found exposure but inspiration.
With only a few people inside, Sarah Baeshen’s booth at the market crowds easily. Her homemade crafts with Hijazi inspiration line the shelves.
“I am Hijazi myself so it’s important for me to show my heritage in the things I make,” said Baeshen.
Setting up at the Friday Market has allowed Baeshen to build a reputation and gain more customers. “The idea of the Friday Market is as old as you can imagine in the Gulf area, and it’s great for people like myself with small businesses.”
For two nights a week since the market started less than a year ago, Fadiah Shikoon has been selling traditional Hijazi food. Her menu options like grilled chicken and liver gained popularity quickly. After realizing the potential, she’s decided to open up a restaurant of her own.
“It’s been amazing for my business. I started very small and I’ve grown quickly in a couple months. I wouldn’t have been able to know the market to start my own business without Souq Al Jumaa,” said Shikoon.
Booth space can be rented on a weekly or monthly basis, and is open to anyone who has a service to offer or a product to sell.
Location: Al Balad, Historical Old Jeddah, next to Al Juffali Mosque
Hours: Thursday and Friday nights, 5 p.m. to midnight