By Reina Tejano
Shopping in Riyadh is a sport. Especially for the ladies, who are the experts in this field.
With a cosmopolitan selection to purchase from, Riyadh has everything from organic to the imported, from the local to the international and from the cheap to the most luxurious. And just like in sports, you need a strategy to come out in the winning end. Here are a few pointers for your shopping game plan:
Before anything else, you need to eat. And to do that, you need to shop for food. Two of the most notable groceries in the city is Tamimi Supermarkets and Danube Supermarkets, which offers a variety of established trusted line of ingredients, canned foods and other grocery products, both local and imported.
If you’re looking for a grocery store that offers a lot of promos, there’s Azizia Supermarkets, Euromarche and Lulu Hypermarket. All these groceries have an organic selection as well. However, if you like the idea of a wet n’ fresh market, you can always visit the street vendors of Batha and Rawdah area.
That, or just wait every Thursday morning when local farmers park their pick-up trucks by the roads and sell their produce at a wholesale price.
Making the Home:
Need some furniture to shape up the shack? For the modern touch, there’s a major IKEA store down at Exit 16 that will cater to all your home furnishing needs. They have everything from beds, tables, toilet seats and bean bags! (Tip: They also house a cafeteria that has a loyal following amongst its customers). Home Centre and Citymax also offers home décor in many baroque and bohemian styles. For a shabby-chic look, you may want to try the Princess Souk (called ‘Haraj’ by some locals) where you can find new/barely-used living room sets at a very reasonable price. You just have to set aside a budget for the upholstery’s cleaning though.
If you’re on a budget, interested in local brands and would like the feel of some traditional flair, you can try out the Taibah Souk (Souk Al Owais) off at King Fahad Road. Their stores are still styled after the Middle East’s “souk” theme and are housed in large, ceramic-tiled halls. Deira is also a famous souk area that sells a lot of typical Saudi wear, souvenirs and other items for wholesale (fragrances, toys, school supplies). If you need to know where Deira is, just ask the driver to take you by the place where they conduct public executions. No kidding!
It wasn’t until less than 10 years ago that international brands were becoming household names here in the Kingdom. You can find global favorites such as H&M, Topshop, MNG, Zara, American Eagle, New Look, Dorothy Perkins, Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and many more at the most frequented malls in the city such as Nakheel Mall, Riyadh Gallery, Kingdom Mall, Faisaliyah Mall, Granada Mall, Sahara Mall and Hayat Mall.
For The Boys:
Admittedly, there are hardly any men’s section at the stores I’ve mentioned earlier. However, our fashion-forward men need not to worry as there are a few malls that do cater to their needs. The Localizer Mall at Tahlia St. houses stores that has styles for Men like Gap, Celio, Giordano and Pull & Bear. Panorama Mall also has a Zara for Men along with Massimo Dutti, among others. There is also a strip along Olaya Road (in front of Al Akaria Center) that has a lot of clothing stores for men such as Lacoste, Nike, El-Faleh (for sportswear) and many more.
The Rich and Famous:
If money is not an issue but luxury is, then your royal feet should be whiffed off to places like Debenhams (Kingdom Mall), Harvey Nichols (AlFaisaliah Mall), Centria Mall and/or Nujoud Mall. In Centria Mall, you can find brands such as Manolo Blahnik, Fendi, Oscar dela Renta, Balenciaga and Cartier just to name a few. Nujoud Mall (located behind the Intercontinental Hotel), on the other hand, have several high-end local brands along with a fashion house called Maison Bo-M.
There is a time and season for everything. And in this case, sensing and knowing when the Sale Season emerges can work in your favor. The usual year-end clearance sales happen on the last week of January and goes on for a month. After-Eid Sales are also common in celebration of the holidays, and of course, there is always the mid-season Sale, which usually happens every four months. Warning: extremely low prices of even the mainstream brands can cause hyperventilation and palpitations (I know, I have experienced them). If you want what’s best for your wallet, it helps to be color-blind during the said seasons (because everything you’ll see in the malls will be red). If you plan to attack during the sale season, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes, hire a nanny for the kids and be armed with lots of patience at the check out line.