Development projects have changed the map of old souks in Mecca, thus creating new shopping criteria, to meet the shoppers’ demands during the annual hajj (pilgrimage).
However, numerous pilgrims still prefer the old souks to buy souvenirs that become a part of the Holy ritual’s memories.
The souks of Mecca have remnants from the past barely surviving as new markets increase. These popular old souks are special to pilgrims, who go there to buy gifts during the hajj season.
“There are plenty of good things here, most importantly books. We also buy little things for the kids from these souks,” an elderly man said.
“We bought gifts for the kids. We bought bracelets and rings; they are neither expensive nor cheap,” a female shopper said.
The pilgrims spend their time here buying gifts that they take back home. They believe these gifts would be a compensation for those who did not have the opportunity to perform the hajj.
The pilgrims prefer buying antiques as they contain the memories of the holy place. The merchants usually take advantage of the spirituality associated with these gifts, and increase the prices of products.
“ I sell copies of the Quran, some CDs and electronic devices. My neighbors sell antiques, prayer mats and mantles. The pilgrims like to buy mantles, mats, Quran copies, paintings of the Holy Mosque… everything that remind them of the past,” a shop owner said.
The beads, sticks in addition to the canes and bonnets are seemingly the most purchased items and the gifts that are most precious to those who await the pilgrims’ return back home.