Leave a lot of space in your luggage, because you are definitely going to be coming back from Western Sahara with a suitcase full of treats. Western Sahara is a great shopping destination, where you can explore atmospheric markets, medinas, and souks to pick up one-off souvenirs, from rugs and fragrances to ceramics and silver jewels.
The country is a shopper’s paradise. Colorful markets packed full of all sorts of locally made goods line the streets; shady and narrow side alleys burst with a tempting variety of places to relax with a glass of mint tea; and rich, exotic colors and scents of spices flood crowded stalls and shops.
From high quality, brightly designed rugs and carpets, to jewelry, ceramics, perfumes, henna, and gold, the medinas and souks of Western Sahara are full of unlimited possibilities. And, in a country where the price is never fixed and haggling is expected, shopping is an intriguing and exhilarating experience, and has never been closer to a sport!
Africa’s northernmost sandy country, modern-day shopkeepers are becoming more and more influenced by the lavish offerings of Western Sahara. The country is seeing an increasing number of fashionable and affordable outlets, offering travelers a range of atmospheric alternatives to chain monoliths and tourist souks. From carpets, leather, and antiques, to traditional woodwork, silver and gold; it is all available, and all ready to be haggled over.
An important part of the shopping culture here, haggling is both expected and encouraged. Ensuring enough time is set aside for the bargaining and tea-drinking process is necessary to make your shopping successful. Visitors who can play along with aggressive sellers and enjoy the experience are in for a lot of fun, and will undoubtedly walk away with the best bargains treats.
It is recommended to begin by offering only a quarter of the asking price.
Prices start out ridiculously inflated, but shopkeepers know they are asking too much. Sellers will always moan and complain about how your offer is too little, however this is almost always a show, and where the real haggling starts!
Marketplaces overflow with spices and pepper, saffron, clove, bay leaf, cumin, and other Middle Eastern specialties like henna and khol (eye makeup). Scents of jasmine cling to the air, and the aroma of thousands of foreign blends washes over shoppers, flooding their senses as they tour each ancient medina.
It is difficult not to be seduced by the atmosphere, and between the culture of haggling and affordable Western Saharan flights, visitors should have plenty of money to dedicate to days full of shopping here!
When shopping in the local markets, feel free to bargain. If you want to get an idea of how much you should be paying, visit the state-run craft markets, which have steady rates. Shops here are mostly open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m in the morning and from 2:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m in the afternoon on weekdays.
- As with other facets of life in Western Sahara, food, and grocery are also sold in their local currency, so ensure to make all the necessary conversions and move around with a little local cash on you. Many of the establishments only accept the US dollar.
- The market is a very popular and crowded place, so it is important to watch your wallet.
- As a newcomer, some of the names of the items might confuse you, please use any online translator services to check the correct word for whatever you are searching for.
- Always ask for help or directions from fellow students and if you can't find any around you then ask even the locals they are always happy to assist foreigners and visitors.