By Johara Al Mogbel
A local’s guide to navigating the most popular tourist destination.
Addeerah is pretty popular with tourists visiting Riyadh. With the Masmak Palace nearby, and back alley shops filled with brass trinkets and camel dummies for them to take home, it’s the place tour guides go to when they want to show their charges an ‘authentic’ souq. But the area is so much more than the shallow surface its reputation scratches.
As a major hub in the city, Addeerah houses the Riyadh Municipality headquarters, the wholesale market, the biggest gold souk, as well as the Masmak Museum. Then there are the bisht sellers, the carpet hawkers and the farwa specialists. It’s also placed close to Abu Swailem Street, the one end all for all crafting and gift supplies. And every year, the city’s Eid celebrations are held there as well.
Magical one stop for all things traditional, you say? Yes! It is.
1- Watch the Bisht Makers Sew Their Wares
There’s an area in Deerah where the bisht shops convene, and to entice customers to walk in, a tailor can usually be found working on the gold hems of the bishts in a seat on the pavement. Stop to watch how this traditional Saudi clothing is made, and feel free to ask questions.
2- Shop for Gems and Custom Made Jewelry in Thmairy
Taibah has its fine share of jewelers, but Thmairy in Deerah has more stores, and a lot more options. Loose gems can be found here, as well. Buy ghawayesh (gold bangle), fix or polish any old jewelry, or simply window shop the dazzling displays.
3- Dig Into History in the Vintage Shops
In the back of Thmairy, in which I like to call ‘the secret garden of stuff’, there are a number of shops that sell the oddest collections of historical relics. From watches with Saddam’s face on them to currencies of random countries, these places used to make child me very happy. Sometimes you’ll find them, sometimes you won’t. They’re kind of like the Room of Requirement, now that we think of it.
4- Buy Traditional Arabic Carpets, or the Components of a ‘Majlis Arabi’
Traditional Saudi living rooms used to be on the ground, with seats made of a traditional red wool or cotton pattern. Deerah is filled with shops that sell these, along with other paraphernalia to stock your themed living room with. They even sell patterned wool bags.
5- Visit the Deerah Masjid
The entrance to this particular masjid is one of the prettiest design feats in the city,
In our opinion, it’s a perfect meld of modern architecture and traditional Saudi design, and it’s all done so well. Buy some mukasarat (nuts) from a street seller and do some pigeon watching in the little garden by the masjid during athaan for a tranquil experience. All that, and it barely skims the surface of all the area has to offer.
Our final tip?
Get a water bottle, check your timings, load up on some cash and explore! There’s no knowing what you’ll find.