has many shops of interest to the tourist, selling textiles, books, jewelry,
musical instruments, as well as the standard souvenirs. Additionally, the
locals are so friendly that shopping is a pleasure.
The shops are mostly open in the evening to avoid the heat of the day,
but in cooler November we found many of them open during the afternoon
One typical souvenir is a little bottle of coloured sand with various
designs. We watched a demonstration of how this is done (see picture)
by manipulating a small bent stick to push the coloured sands into the
right place to form camels etc. Eventually, we didn't buy one as we were
afraid it might get shaken up too much on the flight home, thus wrecking
our first shopping trip, we lingered outside a shop looking at the clothing
hanging up. The shopkeeper invited us inside. We declined, then relented
as he seemed so friendly. I asked about a kuffiyeh, the traditional
red and white head scarf worn by Bedouin and other arab people, and an igal which is the double circle worn on the top of the head (see
the Wadi Rum page to see me wearing it). Both were reasonably priced and
I was shown how to wear them (though there are many variants). Meantime,
Julie had found some cheap earrings but they were for peirced ears and
she wanted clip-ons instead. "No problem" said the shop owner
and took them into a back room. He emerged a few minutes later having
modified the earrings.
Whilst Julie was choosing a matching bracelet and
necklace, our host disappeared again and returned with glass cups of sweet
mint tea for us. By the time we left, some 45 minutes after saying "We're
just looking", we had bought quite a few things. We did not, however,
feel we had been hassled like we did when shopping in Egypt. The shopkeeper
was happy to take "no" or "too expensive" for an answer,
and even I - a devout hater of shopping - enjoyed the experience.
The next day Julie took a friend shopping whilst I was at the cinema
to do in Aqaba). One of the things she wanted was a
photograph album for 100 of our best holiday pics, but the various photographic
shops had only small albums or just wedding ones.
She went into a souvenir
shop and, whilst buying presents for our family, she asked where she could
get a suitable album. The shopkeeper made a couple of phone calls, then
said he had found one across the other side of the town and would fetch
it provided Julie looked after the shop for him (imagine that in the UK!).
He made turkish coffees, produced two chairs and disappeared for twenty
minutes, returning with just the right album and at the right price.
Modern shops in Aqaba town centre
Sea shells displayed in a small shop
Safeway for the less adventurous