Monday 7 November 2011

Sacred souvenirs

Pilgrims heading back home from Makkah not only carry memories of an unforgettable spiritual and historical journey, but they also take gifts and souvenirs for their loved ones who were not lucky enough to travel with them to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia offers a variety of gift selection that is perfect for pilgrims to take back home and share with family and friends. Gifts vary from books, clothing, mats, food and much more.

The Arab News team came up with a list of gift ideas, especially for pilgrims, to take back home. All gifts can be found in Saudi stores and departments.

1. Souvenirs such as pictures of the Two Holy Mosques are one of the most popular gifts bought by pilgrims. Those products remind pilgrims of their beautiful journey they experienced during their spiritual visit to the Kingdom. Price range is from SR10 to SR500.

2. Dates, honey and other sweets are also popular among pilgrims. Aside from being popular food in Saudi Arabia, these sweets reminds pilgrims of the sweet taste of Makkah. Price range is from SR50 to SR500.

3. Oud oil and chips are what make the famous Arabian scents that Saudis are known for. Pilgrims can buy these items at Arabian Oud, Ajmal and Abdul Samad Alqurashi who are famous for their high quality Oud. Price range is from SR100 to SR50,000.

4. Zamzam water is the first thing that comes to a pilgrim’s mind when visiting Makkah. This holy water is known to be an excellent drink that helps strengthen the body and mind. Many Muslims believe this water originated from heaven, so it is reputed to have healing powers. In the old days, pilgrims used to bring their empty bottles and fill it with the Zamzam tankers in the holy mosque. Now, however, water companies made it a lot easier by bottling the water. Price range is from SR 15 to SR25 per bottle.

5. Prayer mats with pictures of Makkah and Madinah and calligraphy and Islamic motifs on them are also very popular gifts. These mats with Islamic inscriptions are particular favorites among pilgrims for it gives them the opportunity to decorate their homes with those spiritual items. Their prices range from SR10 to SR100 depending on the materials and designs.

6. Prayer beads are known to be a charming choice for pilgrims. Those beads are used to count the prayers. Other people, however, look at it as a mark of prestige. Choosing the beads depends on the pilgrim’s wealth. Some choose Chinese-made prayer beads or beads with expensive gemstones. Price range is from SR25 to SR500 a dozen.

7. Miswak, which is Arabic for tooth stick, is a healthy yet traditional choice for Muslims following the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Miswak can be found all over Makkah especially made and sold by street peddlers, who carve, cut it and sell it in dozens. Price rate is SR10 per dozen.

8. The gold market is one of the most visited places in Saudi Arabia during Haj period for many pilgrims to buy precious gold items to either gift or sell back home. Price rate tops SR6,000 an ounce.

9. Saudi women are famous for their hijab clothing and abayas. Many pilgrims like to take back home some of the praying veils or black abayas for their female family members. There are many shops in Makkah and Jeddah that sell abayas with different colors, designs and sizes that match all styles. Prices start from SR200.

10. Last but not least, the Book of Islam is the perfect gift to give loved ones. The Qur’an comes in different colors, shapes and even sizes, which makes it the perfect gift. Prices start from SR35.


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