Ever since the location of this once lost 1500-year-old souk has been rediscovered, its famed history has been brought to the spotlight.
Souk Okaz was a seasonal market that functioned from 542-726 CE during the Dhul Qa’adah month. Operating for two weeks every year, this was more than just a hub of commercial activity. It was a center where various tribes from across Arabia would meet to settle disputes, pass judgments, formalize treaties and hold various competitions.
The Souk has left a significant impact on the Arabic language as this is where the highly regarded poetry competitions were held. These competitions served to formalize rules of grammar and syntax in Arabic and established modes of expression in poetry and oral discourse. The Souk however was eventually destroyed in 736 by the Khawarij.
The location of this souk was much disputed for many years but eventually the prominent historian Muhammad bin Abdallah al-Blahad resolved the issue by identifying its location at the meeting point of the Shirb and Al Ukhaidar valleys near Taif.
Today a modern souk has been established right at the very location of the historic souk. It covers a sprawling area of around 14 million square meters of land and holds much of the same activities of the past.