Cairo is one of the major shopping area in Egypt renowned for its huge markets and bazaars including Khan el-Khalili, Friday Market of Suq El Gomaa and others. Antiques, jewelry, spices, copper utensils and Coptic cloth are some of the special item attractions in these markets. Of course, there are the famous bazaars such as the Khan el-Khalili, but then there are also thousands of unusual stores scattered about the country including Aswan where you can find Aswan Market. Some places are known for producing certain products with better quality and good price than others such as alabaster in Luxor.
Before buying you should have a look on all the exhibits and know its price in more than one place, some times it varies, and put a maximum limit for the price you may pay for the good you are going to buy. Haggling is a tradition for commercial interaction and a common means of communication with vendors in small shops in Egypt. If you are good at bargaining,then you can enjoy shopping in Egypt at much cheaper prices. Yet there are some shops with fixed price that do not allow bargaining and it makes it easy to buy what you want with out having the feeling that you over paid for it.
The purpose for this section is to provide you with information both on what to buy in Egypt. There would be helpful information about some of products that Egypt is famous for including Mashrabeya screen works, baskets, belly dancing costumes, jewelry, musical instruments, perfume bottles, goods containing mother of pearl of Egypt, hand made Egyptian brass items, and textile products etc.
Moreover, it would be helpful for you to know more about the good time for shopping in Egypt. During winter season: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 0900-1900 and on Monday and Thursday from 0900-2000. During summer season: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday 0900-1230 and 1600-2000. Egypt has special shopping hours during Ramadan festival. Hours vary as shops are often closing on Sunday.
There are many markets, malls and shopping centers in Egypt where you can find these products in Egypt in good prices including:
• Wekalat Al-Balah Fabric Market
• Souq al-Goma’a (Friday Market)
• Aswan Market
• Arkadia Shopping Mall
• Al Khatoun
What to Buy in Egypt?
Buying Alabaster artifacts
Alabaster is one of the most luminous and warm stones used for making beautiful handmade artifacts and can easily be found through out Egypt. Alabaster statues, pots and vessels are extremely admired by tourists for its beautiful appearance and its good price. It dates back to the Pharaonic period and there are some alabaster objects in the Pharaonic temples and tombs. It is also used for decorating many famous mosques including Mohammed Ali Mosque where it covers the lower base of the interior walls and the façade.
Alabaster is extracted from the Valley of the Kings in Luxor or from Malawi in Aswan using carets for transporting the raw materials to the factories where the workers reshape it making magnificent statues such as scarabs and so. There are two types of it: fragile gypsum alabaster, and oriental alabaster. The oriental alabaster or marble is ornamenting the floors of Pharaonic tombs and also the Mihrabs of major mosques in Egypt such as El Azhar Mosque and El Hakim Mosque. The other type of alabaster is a fragile material colored in pure white or decorated with reddish of creamy wavy strips used in forming pots, ashtrays
and vases and can either be shiny or matte. It is a weathered and fragile material, thus the alabaster statues can be easily broken.
One can easily distinguish between the handmade and artificial alabaster works since the handmade is lighter, more sensitive and always colored in pure white with dark red strips with some light deposits that distinguish it. While buying handmade alabaster works you should make sure that the colors ornamenting the item is the vein of the raw material not a crack in order not to be broken shortly after buying it. For cleaning the alabaster items you can easily use water and piece of cloth without using any color cleaning products in order not to affect on the pot or the artifact itself.
The most preferable place where you can find alabaster works is Luxor because it is close to the factories of Alabaster and this makes it less expensive. You can get it in your way for visiting the Valley of the Kings and you should pay attention for the price and bargain well in order not to overpay for it.
El Khayamiya Appliqué craft in Bab Zuwayla :
Appliqu craft is one of the historical crafts that were practiced in the past for preparing the attractive designs decorating the nomadic Arabic tents in the past and also in preparing the cover of the Holy Kaaba with its attractive Quran inscriptions every year. Appliqu craft was widely practiced in several countries of the Arab world but by the passage of time it faded away because of the decline in the demand of tent decoration works. In spite of that the Egyptian Craftsmen managed to modernize this craft in away that bring them enough money and immortalize the craft itself. They began using this craft in doing marvelous cushion covers, bed covers and wall hangings with nice folkloric patterns, Pharaonic designs and other birds and peasants shapes.
To buy these beautifully designed works, you can visit the famous area of Bab Zuwayla or Bab El Metwalli which lies in El-Metwalli Square next to El-Muayyad Sheikh Mosque. This gate is the only remaining gate that was erected in the Fatimid period to protect the city from the outer attacks from the southern side. The gate was constructed in 1092 by the minister or Wazir Badr El-Gamaly. It carries the name of a brave soldier from the Berber tribe who was living nearby the original gate that was constructed in 969.
Directly after passing El Muayyad Sheikh Mosque and El Kurdi Mosque, you would find a covered market with small shops in the first floor displaying attractive handmade works over the windows of their shops and some small rooms in the second floor that was mainly used as a residence for the workers of the market in the past and some of it were used as a storage. This is one of the major markets where you can find such brilliantly colored works in Egypt and the best place where you can buy souvenirs before leaving.
Buying Basketry works from Egypt
Basketry is one of the oldest crafts in Egypt that date back to Predynastic era in ancient Egypt and there are many tombs that were enclosing cleverly made baskets with various shapes. This craft is still practiced in Egypt in many places and the most famous place where you can find basketry artisans is El Darb El Ahmar nearby Bab Zuwayla, El Khayameya, and Suq El Silah. One can find baskets in a very good price and variety of shape, size and quality in El Fayoum as well where it is originally made and widely used.
Baskets are usually designed in three ways: coiled, twined, or plaited and ornamented with various sizes and shapes. Some times one can find baskets ornamented with colorful stitching or beautiful geometric patterns with colorful pigments.
There are numerous depictions on the walls of Ancient Egyptians highlights the great utility of baskets in everyday life. They were using it for keeping food and bread and other useful materials. In addition to that, basket making materials were usually used in roofing the houses and making window covers, mats and other wall covers. Basketry craft has witnessed a minute change through out history since it is still used in small Nubian and Egyptian villages for the same purposes.
In modern Egypt many basketry artisans practice this craft as a hobby and work hard to add to it and earn more money from it. In addition to the traditional forms of plaited or cone baskets, there are some new forms including window curtains with modern style, wall hangings and bags with various sizes and shapes. Although a very few number of people are practicing this craft nowadays, it is still able to prove itself among other crafts in Egypt. Most of the tourists become fascinated with the hand made basketry works with its attractive colors and innovative designs.
Shopping for Belly Dancing Costumes in Khan El Khalili :
Belly dancing is one of the arts that has a long history and resonating fame in all the oriental countries especially Egypt. The Egyptian style of dancing is quite distinguished from the Tunisian and the Algerian style of dancing, but similar to the Syrian and Lebanese style. Reda Troupe is one of the most famous folkloric dancing troupes in Egypt and the world as a whole that presented numerous shows all over the world. Moreover, there are numerous Egyptian belly dancers who achieved resonating fame all over the world for their heavenly beauty and great talent including Lucy, Fifi Abdo and Dina.
There are numerous styles for the Egyptian belly dancing costumes. Firstly, the Alexandrian dress which is a brightly colored mid-knee length dress. Secondly, the upper Egyptian costume which has a very unique style that charm many people. It is the most preferable dress for many professional dancers because it helps them in highlighting their talent without distracting people with their heavenly beauty. Thirdly, Modern style, the most renowned one, consists of two parts: skirt and the bra with brightly colored glamorous Sequins and glass beads over it. The decorations over the dancers costume are either mad of plastic, glass or metal and each one of these materials has its own beauty.
Khan El Khalili is one of the most famous markets for belly dancing costumes with good prices and the major destination where tourist visit for purchasing such things. It lies in El Hussein Square near by El Hussein Mosque and El Azhar Mosque. Haggling is one of the most successful means of communication with the merchants in these places to avoid overpaying for the costume. While buying a belly dancing costume, one should make sure that the stitching is close and small, the weight of the costume is neither heavy nor light because this affects on the movement of the dancer. The thickness of the costume is another vital thing to take care of because this is a very important criterion for determining its price.
In addition to the costume, one can buy scarves with brilliantly colored Sequins and belly dancers shoes and other items in good price and quality in Khan El Khalili. Aromatic perfumes and accessories with attractive Pharaonic designs are also available in Khan El Khalili.
Shopping for Egyptian Cotton Products :
Almost all the foreigners prefer the Egyptian cotton for its high quality, whiteness, softness and good price. In the past, cotton was exported as a raw material to be manufactured abroad and then re-imported in higher prices. After the industrial revolution in Egypt, new textile factories have been established for producing magnificent clothes, sheets, and other products from the Egyptian cotton and export it. There are many cities known for their huge textile factories in Egypt such as El Mahalla El Kobra, 6th of October, and 10th of Ramadan and others.
On top the beautiful Egyptian cotton products come the towels with its attractive designs, sizes and colors and the thread counts, the bedspreads with nice designs and high quality. There are also other products such as blankets with various sizes, colors and weights with variable prices. The price of these products in the local Egyptian markets is about half its price in the foreign markets and this makes many tourists keen on buying it from Egypt.
There are numerous places through out Egypt where one can shop for Egyptian long staple Cotton. El Azhar Street is one of the major centers for trading in Cotton Products where one can find all what he want in very cheep prices. Haggling is a very successful means of interacting with sellers in these places to avoid overpaying for goods. If one is not clever at bargaining, he can go to other shops with fixed prices in El Mohandseen, Lebanon Square and so but the prices in these places are so high. While buying you should make sure that you are buying pure cotton products not mixed with fiber because this affects the quality and the price of the product.
Wikalet El Balah is another famous place in Boulak abo El Ela where you can find stalls for cotton products and also other handmade patterns such as baskets and brass works in very cheap prices. El Saad Street, a side street off El Sayyeda Zeinab Square is another main market for cotton products. Yet it would be difficult to find 100% cotton products in these places.
Buying Handmade Copper and Brass works from Egypt :
Copper and Brass come on top of the materials that have been widely used in the ancient Egyptian civilization for making statues and pots to be placed in their tombs. In modern Egypt, these materials are widely used for forming a very wide variety of products including gongs, ashtrays, lamps and plates with magnificent decoration of Islamic and Pharaonic designs.
Brass forming craft is one of the oldest crafts that really have a long history in Egypt and most of its artisans have inherited the craft and the talent from their ancestors.
The most preferable and most expensive copper and brass works are the copper inlaid works of Islamic style. In spite of the magnificent shining appearance of these works, there is a low variety for its colors since it is only silver, yellow, brownish red, and black. For more variety of color and cheaper price, some artisans use oxidizing technique where they use some chemical colors. But these colors are not as shining as the inlaid works and are not as long lasting as the previous type and this make these works hard to clean or polish.
There are various copper and brass works to be bought as souvenir from Egypt including: brass pots, brass lamps, ashtrays, and so. Khan El Khalili is one of the major markets where one can shop for such works and see the small shops and factories of brass products. While buying copper and brass plates, you should pay attention to the smoothness of the plate of the item he is buying. The most important thing to make sure of while buying copper lamp is the chain. You should make sure that it is well connected and that there is no mistake in it. After buying the item, do not allow the seller to deceive you by replacing the good one you have chosen with another worse one while wrapping it for you.
Shopping for Gold in Egypt :
Egyptians are famous for love for jewels since the ancient Egyptian era, and the golden age of Fatimid, Abbasids, and Ottomans till today. This is clear since ancient Egyptians were usually placing golden statues for their gods and golden mask for their kings and queens in their tombs. At the golden age of Arabs also, they were fascinated with gold and gemstones like pearl and silver and used it in decorating their luxurious palaces and mosques. Modern Egyptians are also famous for their great talent in forming gold works with marvelous Islamic and Pharaonic style.
Although gold has fixed price all over the world, Egyptian Gold market is more preferable for foreigners other than any other place. This is attributed to the cleverness of the Egyptian artisans and the low cost of manufacturing and forming it. The manufacturing cost of the gram of gold varies according to the type of cold whether white of gold and the design itself. In addition to the gold and white types of gold, Italian and Lazordi gold jewelry are also available in most of the Egyptian gold stores but the manufacturing cost is quite higher than the ordinary gold cost per gram.
There are numerous places that display gold works that tourist buy as souvenirs with heads of famous Pharaonic gods, goddesses, queens and kings and other trinkets in Khan El Khalili market. There are other shops where Egyptians buy their own rings, earrings and necklaces and of course the designs and the weight of the pieces differ. These shops are widely spread through out the whole country. For instance, Zamalek, Maadi and many other upscale neighborhoods in Cairo are famous for their gold stores. El Gamee Square or the Mosque square is one of the major gold markets for Egyptians. It is about 18 shop in one of the decent neighborhoods in Egypt where upper class members are living. So that the designs, the style of displaying the trinkets is quite unique. Moreover the manufacture cost in these shops is determined by the weight of the gold piece in addition to the design and the type of gold itself.
El Sagha or the gold market is another famous gold store from where middle class Egyptians usually buy gold for their own occasions such as marriage. It is crowded with gold stores where the manufacture cost per gram is determined by the design of the piece of gold and the type of gold used in it.
Buying Egyptian Mother of Pearl inlaid souvenirs :
Intricate inlay Craft is one of the ancient crafts that have been widely practiced in many other Arab countries in the Arabs golden age for producing jewelry boxes, ornate tables, and luxuriously decorated furniture. By the passage of time this craft faded away in some of these countries because of the lack of professional craftsmen. Egypt is one of the countries that still have a resonating fame in this craft and Khan El Khalili is one of the major centers for shopping for mother of pearl inlaid works there. Numerous works are displayed in Khan El Khalili small shops such as jewelry boxes, drums and other wooden works with such precious adornments. El Darb El Ahmar is another Egyptian local market where tourists shop for handmade works with mother of pearl decorations in good prices. Worth mentioning, most of the items displayed in this market are decorated with artificial or plastic pearl and this makes it really cheap.
Before buying such works, one should make sure that the decorative pieces over the plate, the table, or the piece of furniture is a real mother of pearl not just finely made plastic vestiges. This can be easily discovered because the real mother of pearl is much more shining than the plastic one. This process may take time because some of the artisans are professional in mixing the real mother of pearl items with the artificial ones in away that can be hardly noticed. Most of the time artisans put the plastic inlays on the sides of the box or in the hidden corners of the piece of furniture and this makes it difficult to be discovered. This is the most important factor that the buyer should make sure of to be able to determine the accurate price of the item he is choosing and avoid deception. Bargaining is a successful way for reaching to a good price for the souvenir you are going to buy, especially when you know its real value and its defaults.
Where to find Elegant Egyptian Glass Perfume Bottles :
There are numerous crafts that have faded away all over the world, but still live in Egypt including basketry, intricate inlay, and brass work. The main reason for this is the availability of the professional artisans in Egypt since all the major manufacturers pay a great attention on training young craftsmen to master the craft to be able to survive at the age of industrial and technological revolution and prove themselves. Most of the craftsmen in this craft practice it as a kind of art in itself and this is what makes it really fascinating. This craft is really difficult the artisans have to work in very hot temperature and use flaming fire to shape the melted raw material of glass and adding colors to it, so only men can master this craft.
To purchase glassware from Egypt one can visit Khan El Khalili where beautiful handmade perfume bottles with various shapes, sizes, and colors in good prices. The most attractive glass bottles that really attract the clients and take a lot of effort for being produced in such material are those with gold colored decorations or flowery paintings. Another type of perfume bottles known as Pyrex perfume bottles is distinguished by its high quality, thickness and simplicity of decoration. It is some of it are decorated with real gold not golden colors and this makes it more expensive than the other bottles. While buying the perfume bottles one should pay attention to the finishing of the product, the colors and the paintings over it to make sure that there is no mistake. The sellers in Khan El Khalili and similar markets usually say a very high price for the goods they are selling. So that the buyer should try to ask about the price in more than one shop and know the real value of the thing he is going to buy. Then haggling may be a useful mean to get the item you want in a good price. After buying the perfume bottles or any glassware, it is preferable to keep it covered with cotton wrap and put it in a box in order not to be broken.
Shopping for Musical Instruments in Cairo :
Before leaving, tourists spend some time looking for souvenirs from Egypt to buy. Most of them prefer Alabaster statues, baskets , jewelry boxes with mother of pearl inlays are traditional souvenirs. Khan El Khalili, El Darb El Ahmer and Wikalet El Balah are renowned places where they find most of what they look for.
Some tourists find their real interest in shopping for musical instruments in Cairo. The most Preferable Egyptian Musical instruments for tourists are:
The Oud is one of the most prominent Egyptian musical instruments that attract people who are interested in music. The Egyptian Oud or Arabic Oud is really different from that of Turkish Oud for its warm tone. It consists of wooden rounded body, some times decorated with attractive mother of pearl , and five nylon or gut strings plucked with a Risha or “feather”.
The Nay is another soulful musical instrument that is highly admired for its breathy sound, melancholic tone, and inflections. It is a very simple instrument in the shape of an open-ended flute made of cane, with six holes in its front and usually blown with the fingers’ pads. Blowing the Nay is a very difficult task that necessitates mastering the bilabial blowing technique.
The Riq or Duff or small tambourine is a very popular Egyptian instrument, usually preferable for its variable tones and its subtle but virtuosic manner of performance. It consists of a circular wooden frame with five sets of two pairs of brass in each, and covered with a yellowish piece of the goat skin. One can find the wooden frame of the Riq sometimes decorated with mother of pearl decorations. Riq and Tabla or Drum are the most preferable musical instruments for the majority of the tourists, so one can find many shops for selling them in Mohamed Ali Street.
The qanun is another soulful musical instrument that fascinates people with its variable passionate tones. It is regarded as an essential member of the family of the Classical Arabic musical instruments. The most distinguishing feature of Qanun is its trapezoid-shaped flat board and its 81 strings and it is played using the finger nails.
Mohamed Ali Street is the most prominent market in Cairo where one can shop for these musical instruments. It lies nearby El Attaba Square and is full of stores for musical instruments and preparing it. While buying any musical instrument with mother of pearl inlays, one should make sure that these are real ones not plastic because it affects on the price of the item itself.
Handmade wood works in Cairo
Most of the tourists believe that a marquetry inlaid jewelry box or a finely decorated Mashrabeya screen would be a valuable lifetime souvenir, so most of them prefer buying such patterns from Egypt. One should pay attention of the quality of the wood and the way of arranging the wooden pieces together because it affects greatly on the price of the piece itself. El Ghuri, Mohamed Ali Street, and El Dar El Ahmar are famous for trading in these wooden works in addition to baskets , jewelry , alabaster statues and brass and copper handmade works in good prices and high quality.
Marquetry handmade works
Marquetry is one of the ancient crafts in Egypt that is regarded now as a kind of art. The craftsmen use the small pieces of precious wood, assemble it in a certain way that only professional workmen can master, and then decorate it with highly prestigious adornments of Islamic style. Marquetry inlays are sometimes used for decorating pieces of furniture including closets, chests, cases and coffers. One can find many of these marvelous wooden works such as marquetry jewelry boxes in Khan El Khalili, El Ghuri , and Mohamed Ali Street .
Arabesque wooden works
Among the famous Egyptian arabesque wood works come the Mashrabeya screens; finely decorated wooden works used for covering windows and balconies. It is usually made of Zan wood or Abanos wood and this makes its price very expensive, since the price of mashrabeya meter ranges between 300- 900 Egyptian pound. Tourists are usually fascinated with the marvelous talent of creating such beautiful wooden works by assembling the small dark red or black colored wooden geometric patterns together.
Shopping for Papyrus in Egypt :
Papyrus has been widely used in the Ancient Egyptian civilization for recording important religious hymns and literary texts. A huge number of the most preserved and of best quality papers that have been found date back to the Greco- Roman period in Egyptian history. These papyruses present highly valuable information about ancient Egyptians musical instruments and magical spells. It was manufactured mainly from the papyrus reeds growing on the Nile river banks and the process of manufacturing it was highly complicated.
By the passage of time, the plantation of papyrus reed and manufacturing papyrus disappeared from Egypt till some Egyptian scientists revived it in the first half of the 20th century. Papyrus has been replaced with paper and it is used nowadays only as souvenirs purchased by tourists.
Tourists prefer shopping for papyrus paintings from Egypt before returning home for its high value, and good price. The price is quite variable according to the material of the paper and the paintings over it and it ranges between 2-100 dollars. Papyrus papers can be easily found in the small shops nearby the Egyptian Museum with variable prices and qualities. The true papyrus is usually heavy, strong, and usually colored in the degrees of brown. On the other hand, the fake papyrus that is produced of cheap materials such as banana stalk, eggplant, carrot and other materials is always easy to be broken. One should pay attention to the paintings over the paper to see whether it is a painted or printed one because this affects on its value and quality. Thus any tourist should examine the quality and the material of the papyrus paper to be able to determine its real value and price. Papyrus papers should be finely preserved in a wooden frame with glass cover to protect the colors from fading away and make it live long.
Shopping for Clothes in Cairo
Egypt is famous for the high quality its cotton products and the marvelous designs that does not vary from those of modern western style clothes. There are numerous local brands managed to find their way to nationality because of its quality and price such as dalydress. As a result most of the tourists prefer shopping for clothes in Egypt because there are numerous malls and shopping centers in Egypt where they can find stylish clothes in affordable prices such as Arcadia , Talaat Harb Mall , City Stars mall and others. Moreover many foreigners prefer buying Egyptian cotton products as souvenirs rather than basketry or handmade carpets.
Before shopping for clothes one should determine whether he want to buy clothes of international brand and latest designs or modern casual clothes of middle class people and so to be able to choose the best center to visit. The price of the products varies according to its brand, design, material and market as well. Bargaining while buying clothes is not preferable because most of the shops are of fixed prices. Most of the malls allow paying with hard currency or international credit card while some small shops in markets such as El Atabba discount shopping Center accept only Egyptian pound.
Buying Kohl and eyeliner from Cairo
Kohl is one of the natural cosmetics that have been widely used by the ancient Egyptians and most of the depictions for ancient Egyptian kings and queens show them rimming their eyes with kohl. They believed that it protects the eye from the burning sun rays and protect the vision and eyesight. Prophet Mohammed also assured on the importance of Kohl and its great therapeutic impact and he was rimming his eyes daily before sleeping to cure them from any illness that may have inflected it throughout the day. Currently Kohl is widely admired by women especially Arab women who use it for defining their eyelid with black color for highlighting its beauty.
Kohl can be found as a wax-based pencil in black, blue, green and brown colors. On the other hand, Kohl eyeliner is a soft powder can be found in all the shades of dark matte and usually used for giving the outline of the eyes a beautiful smoky shape. It is available in pencil, pressed powder, or loose powder form and sometimes it comes as gel eyeliner which is much softer.
There are numerous ways for producing Kohl using various natural materials including a mixture of soot and other natural ingredients, or using lead. Some of these ways were inherited from ancient civilizations and still used with slight modification.
Some tourists are interested in buying Kohl and kohl eyeliner from Egypt for its high quality and cheap price. The price ranges between 5 $ to 35 $ according to the place, the formula and the brand of the product itself. Before buying kohl or kohl eyeliner, one should make sure that there are no harmful materials such as amorphous carbon or charcoal for their penal impact on mind and eyesight.
Shopping Centers in Egypt :
El Darb El Ahmar or the Red Market
This is one of the major markets in Egypt that encloses a huge number of activities and provides numerous Egyptians with work. El Darb El Ahmar Market is one of the alleys neighboring Bab Zuwayla in El Muiz Street. Next to Darb El Ahmar, one can find many other alleys crowded with small shops trading in beautiful handmade works and nice Pharaonic and Islamic artifacts in good prices. On top of these markets are El Darb El Asfar, Darb Saada, and Khan El Khalili. There are also some famous side streets including Suq El Silah Street, Bab El Wazir Street, and Darb El Tibbana and many other markets that may lead you to Saladin Citadel. In the way leading to this market, one can enjoy visiting numerous mosques highlighting the unique style of decoration and the great Islamic architecture in many mosques including: El Muayyad Sheikh Mosque, El Ghury, El Kurdi and El Hosein. There are also many wikalas or small markets, sabils such as Mohamed Ali Sabil.
El Darb El Ahmar was established in the Fatimid period as a part of the Qasaba of the Fatimid Khalif that was extending from Bab El Futuh and Bab El Nasr till Bab Zuwayla. There are some restoration works in the area currently but this does not hinder the process of selling and buying in the area at all.
The area of El Darb El Ahmar is full of non-stopping activities including tent making which is one of the crafts that distinguish this place from any other place all over the world. One can never resist the fascination of the brilliantly colored appliqu works with Pharaonic and Islamic designs that imitate the decorative style used in the neighboring mosques displayed in the small shops in El Khayameya or tent making shops. These shops usually present cushion covers, bed covers, wall hangings, and traditional Egyptian Galabeyas with nice Pharaonic ornaments in good prices and it is open all the days of the week except for Sunday.
In addition to that, one can find Suq El Surugiyah next to Suq El Silah where all the leatherwear can be found with all it styles and colors in quite cheep price and good quality.
That is not all what one can find, there are numerous small shops for brightly colored, elegantly designed and excessively decorated belly dancing costumes. This is one of the things that the Egyptian markets are famous for and tourists prefer buying it as souvenirs. There are also plenty of narghile shops or Shesha shops where you can see the beautiful paintings over the glass of the narghile and the brass works ornamenting it, in addition to the basketry shops where the artisans are displaying their handmade artifacts. The variety of goods and activities in El Darb El Ahmar market and the other markets around it is the reason for attracting tourists from different countries and cultures all over the world to enjoy the pleasure of seeing such historical crafts and buying it.
El Khatoun :
El Khatoun is one of the major markets that attract tourists who are visiting Egypt because of the variety of crafts practiced in it and the goods displayed in its shops. It lies in Mohamed Abdo Street off El Azhar Square and nearby El Darb El Ahmar Market and Khan El Khalili. It is neighboring some of the major monumental places in the Fatimid Cairo including Zaynab Khatoun House and nearby Beit El Harrawi. Among the artifacts that one can purchase from El Khatoun comes the finely decorated glass perfume bottles, beautiful baskets , papyrus papers , appliqué and tent making works , alabaster statue, and copper and brass handmade works. Visiting El Khatoun Market may be enough for any one who want to buy souvenirs before returning home because it encloses all the goods that one may want to buy from Egypt in good prices. In spite of enclosing a marvelous collection of handmade artifacts and souvenirs, the market is distinguished by the design and the style of a very modern market or mall with no merchants trying to oblige you on buying things or showing what they are selling by force.
Suq El Jomaa or Friday Market :
Suq El Jomaa is one of the largest popular local markets in Egypt that present a huge variety of goods in very cheap prices for poor and middle class people. It is held usually in Friday from 8 am to about 2 pm under El Tounessy Bridge or the Autostrade nearby the Southern Cemeteries. One can take a taxi from El Sayyeda Aisha Square and it is preferable to go there early in the morning to avoid the suffering of the suffocating crowd. In every nook and cranny of the market one can see sellers and buyers bargaining for the prices since it is the only possible way for dealing with the merchants there.
Suq El Jomaa is not usually visited by tourists because it is a very overcrowded place and the police can not provide them with enough security. So that if you want to take the challenge, it would be better for women to be go with a male friend or in a group to avoid harassment. Tourists are usually interested in the antiquities displayed in the antiquities alley of Suq El Gomma such as crystal chandeliers, handmade carpets and simply decorated curtains , baskets , tent making works , and other brass works and antiquities in a very cheap price. The prices of goods in this market is quite cheaper than Khan El Khalili and El Darb El Ahmar , but the quality is lower.
In spite of the chaotic state of the market, it is quite arranged and each street is dedicated to a certain type of goods to sell. In addition to the small shops purchasing kitchen utensils and second- hand spare parts, there are some alleys where one can shop for pieces of furniture, clothes, thread counts and curtains in moderate quality and good price. Coin- collectors are attracted to this market where some sellers spread metal coins from various Arab and foreign countries over a sheet in very good prices. Used books stalls are usually full of students who look for the used books and references to help them in their studies in good prices.
While wandering throughout the market, one can notice vendors spreading numerous second-hand items that have no relation with each other such as used wallets, empty glass and plastic bottles, pines, broken alarm clocks over a sheet and selling them for the same price. The same thing is repeated with another type of goods such as computer spare parts including used flobby disks and keyboards and also mobile phones and used TV sets with very cheap price.
Animal market is a section of Friday market where cats, tortoise, dogs, ducks, chickens, cattle and other farm animals are purchased. This is usually crowded with housewives selling animals and birds that they raise to earn their living or professional merchants who practice the craft of animal trading many years ago.
Wekalet El Balah :
Wekalet El Balah is one of the major local markets in Egypt that present a huge variety of goods and products in a very good price. It locates in the intersection of 26th street and the Nile, about 400 meters southward the World Trade Center and nearby Arcadia mall. This area is known as Boulak Abu El Ela and is famous for cotton trade. Shops in this market are open six days a week except for Sunday.
There are numerous shops and most of them trade in similar goods but with variable prices. So that one should ask in more than one shop and bargain with the merchant before buying it, to avoid overpaying for products.
The most fascinating products displayed in this market are the cotton products including the cotton bed sheets and thread counts with marvelous designs and colors. Most of the middle and upper middle class people shop for cotton products and curtains in this market for its softness, high quality and good price.
Tourists are usually fascinated with Mashrabeya screen works and wooden works of Egypt and Wikalet El Balah is the best place where they can shop for such products.
There are some stalls for the spare parts of motorbikes and bicycles, car covers, and other second hand products. There are numerous products that tourist buy as souvenirs from Wikalet El Balah such as Baskets , wall hangings , glassware , and copper and brass plates.
El Khayameya or Tentmakers Market
El Khayameya is one of the oldest markets in the Fatimid Cairo and the most famous covered market in Egypt. It lies in El Moez Le Din Allah Street nearby Bab Zuwayla, El Moayyad Sheikh Mosque, and El Kurdi Mosque. This market is distinguished by the wooden cover with small openings for illumination and ventilation covering it. It consists of a group of two-story buildings on either sides of the street: the first floor involves a number of small shops for tentmakers, while the second floor encloses some small rooms that were used as residence for the craftsmen of the market and some of them were rented per month. The place has been restored after 1993 earthquake and it is now used as a market only where the shops are displaying appliqué works over its windows.
Tent making is one of the oldest crafts in Egypt that was widely spread in the golden era of Arabs for the ornament of their tents. By the passage of time this craft began to decrease because people became uninterested in tent decorations. Nowadays those artisans are using their craft that looks like the patchwork to a great extent in making cushion covers, wall hangings and other items with beautiful works with Islamic and Pharaonic designs.
Tourists usually prefer taking these appliqué works as souvenirs because of its marvelous beauty, good price, and high value. The price of these handmade works varies between 20- 200 Egyptian pound according to the type of the item and its quality.
Through out the way leading to El Khayameya one can see numerous small alleys where some of the ancient crafts in Egypt are practiced and famous markets such as Khan El Khalili and El Darb El Ahmar . Tourists welcome visiting such places before returning home for buying souvenirs such as brass handmade works and copper plates, basketry , glass perfume bottles , bazaars of narghile and alabaster statues, and gold stores . Bargaining with merchants may help you in buying the items you admire at good prices because most of those merchants raise the price while dealing with foreigners.
Sur El Azbakeya or Used books Market:
Sur El Azbakeya or El Azbakeya fence is the most famous bookstore for used books in Egypt where the rarest books and magazines of all languages and topics can be found in very cheap prices. The market is held in El Attba Square directly next to El Attba metro station and neighboring the clothes shops of El Attaba. It has been established about 30 years ago and it still exists. Tourists who are interested in reading usually visit Sur El Azbakeya in their way to Khan El Khalili , El Khayameya , El Hussein , and El Muayyad Sheikh Mosque. It consists of some small wooden stalls displaying used books in a good state and it is opened from 8-12 o’clock.
One of the things that Egyptians and foreigners alike prefer buying from El Azbakeya is dictionaries in all languages because of its very cheap price that ranges between 5- 200 pounds according to the language and the type of the dictionary itself. Many people who are interested in reading novels and short stories usually visit this market to buy the literary works that may be offered for about 100 L.E in any library in City Center for only 20 or 30 pounds.
Worth admiration in this market is that one can find magazines from various countries all over the world dealing with variable topics including economy, politics, fashion, and food and any other topic that reader may think of. There is a huge amount of tourism books that may help any tourist during his visit to any of Egyptian governorates in several languages and very cheap prices.
Malls and Shopping Centers in Cairo
There are many shopping centers with attractive design in Egypt usually visited by both Egyptians and Foreigners alike such as Arcadia, Talaat Harb Mall and City Stars Mall.
Arcadia is one of the modern shopping centers where the client can find all what he want easily. It lies in El Tahrir square on the shore of the Nile River, few meters away from Conrad International Hotel and the World Trade center in Boulaq Abou El Ela. For financial interaction, the center usually accepts paying in Egyptian pound of foreign currency or even international credit cards because its location makes many tourists visit it. The shops of the mall are opened for 13 hours daily from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm six days a week except for Sunday.
Arcadia mall is distinguished by the marvelous ice rink, graceful interior design, and its huge video wall that is usually showing the top songs and video clips for Egyptian and international singers. The center encloses a huge number of shops with glamorous glass fronts and graceful exhibits from all kinds and types. There are numerous clothes shops, shoe stalls, furniture galleries, music stores, kitchen utensils and even toyshops. The most remarkable feature for this mall is that one can find the international brands such as Nike, Timberland, and Adidas at affordable prices. These malls are usually visited by members of the upper and upper middle class members who can afford to goods displayed in this market.
Talaat Harb mall, Talaat Harb Square, Downtown Cairo, is the most famous and most visited shopping center in Cairo. One of the factors for attracting both Egyptians and Foreigners alike to this Market is presenting fashionable shoe, clothes, cotton works, and leather products at good prices. The mall is usually working for about 13 hours all the days of the week like most of the malls in this place. There are numerous restaurants presenting folkloric Egyptian dishes such as Fuul and Falafel, money-changing offices that many tourists look for in order to exchange money, and libraries presenting valuable tourism guides and books about Egyptian antiquities and history in various languages at good prices in Talaat Harb Square as well. As a result the visitor of Talaat Harb Square is not in need of visiting any other place to find what he is looking for.
Nasr City is regarded as the Cairo mall’s district because most of the famous malls locate in that area including Tiba Mall, City Center, Genena Mall and many other shopping centers. Nasr City malls are quite more successful than the malls ashore the Nile because these malls are presenting local brand and international brand products in a price that the middle and lower middle class can afford to. On the other hand, the number of the people who visit splendorous malls such as Arcadia is decreasing because he is presenting purchases that only the upper class can pay for.
City Stars is one of the recently constructed multi-purpose malls in Cairo that achieved a renowned fame through out Egypt. It stands as a three story building with numerous shops enclosing all and every good local and international brands such as Dalydress, BTM, Mango and Esprit and many others. Presenting plenty of international brands in good prices attracts many tourists for shopping in city center than any other mall in Cairo.
In addition to the shops, there is a huge number of restaurants and coffee shops serving wide variety of drinks and food in quite high price as usual. Moreover, there is a multiplex cinema with 13 screens where the latest movies are usually displayed and this makes most of the teenagers and families visit the center for entertainment rather than shopping. The center encloses also an international exhibition in its last two floors.
SHOPPING IN Khan El Khalili :
Khan El Khalili is one of the prominent Egyptian markets visited daily by a huge number of Egyptians and foreigners alike. This market is called after its establisher Emir Jarkas El Khalili. it was constructed in the early Mamluk period to be a market for non-Egyptian merchants only. Nowadays the market is regarded as the center of most of the historical crafts in Egypt such as copper and brass works, basketry works , glass perfume bottles and tent making craft. All these crafts have faded away in many countries all over the world but are still alive in Egypt because of the availability of clever craftsmen and raw material.
Khan El Khalili Bazaar situates in the area between El-Musky Street and Sayyidna El-Hussein Square, in the center of Fatimid Cairo where a large number of monuments exist. El Hussein Mosque is the closest and the most famous monumental place that is usually visited by tourists in their way to the multi-purpose bazaars for taking souvenirs. It is also surrounded by monuments as El Azhar Mosque , El Muayyad Sheikh Mosque , Bab Zuwayla , El Khayameya , El Ghuri Complex , El Kurdi Mosque and Sabil Mohamed Ali .
Worth admiration in Khan El Khalili is that it encloses all and every thing that the tourist may think of from the papyrus rolls , alabaster statues , copper plates and baskets till cotton products. On top of the souvenirs that tourists prefer purchasing are gold works because of the beautiful design made by the clever Egyptian artisans and the cheap manufacture cost of gold in Egypt. Another highly admired handmade works are belly dancing costumes that are displayed over the shops’ windows with bright colors and glimmering ornaments. Narghile with colorful brass works and paintings are usually fascinating tourists with its unique style and beautiful design. The price of these products and its high quality make many tourists buy it with out thinking.
Next to Khan El Khalili there are small alleys specialized in certain craft to the extent that it became called after the craft of its inhabitants. El Khayameya or Tent Makers Street is one of the neighboring markets where tourists usually purchase handmade appliqu works like cushion covers and wall hangings with marvelous Pharaonic or Islamic designs. Similarly, Darb El Nahasin is another market where the workshops of copper and brass artisans exist. This is the best place where one can find copper plates , chandeliers and ashtrays with nice decorations at affordable price.
In addition to the bazaars and the small stalls of ancient crafts, there are numerous restaurants and teahouses offering drinks for quite good price and some of them offer souvenirs such as papyrus rolls with nice welcome message or small alabaster statues. El Fishawi Teahouse is a highly renowned teahouses in this area on which Naguib Mahfouz and many other famous men of intellect were meeting in the past. It is one of the most popular teahouses in Egypt renowned for being mainly a tourist teahouse and this makes its prices higher than any other ordinary Egyptian Teahouse.