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Shopping in Aqaba

Making sand pictures in AqabaAqaba 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 as well.

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 the design.

On 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 (see Things 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.


Shops in Aqaba
Modern shops in Aqaba town centre
Shells in Aqaba
Sea shells displayed in a small shop
Safeway at Aqaba, Jordan
Safeway for the less adventurous

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