One of the oldest souks in the country, Souk Al-Mubarakiya has been around for over 200 years, and although it may have experienced some damage during the Iraqi invasion of 1990, it has since then been renovated and restored. This is a market in which you can really spend hours exploring, as it is not only home to vendors selling everything from spices to clothing, but also boasts two fascinating museums.
The Souk Al-Mubarakiya is spread out across a number of streets, and the shopping that you can do here is wonderfully varied. Some of the highlights include Arab antiques, Persian carpets, handmade crafts and traditional costumes, but you will also see an incredible array of spices and local foods all around you. You will also find textiles and jewelry, all of which will have been created locally. For those who prefer to purchase items that have been customized to their tastes, you will no doubt appreciate the perfume stalls that can mix together a scent just for you, as well as the street that boasts several stalls selling made-to-order bags.
The Souk Al-Mubarakiya is quite unique in the sense that it contains two small museums. While you would not really visit the area just to see these museums, they are worth stopping off at while you are at the souk. The first is called the Sheikh Mubarak Kiosk, which used to be the headquarters of Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah when he used to supervise the trade in the area. The second museum is at the site of the very first Islamic pharmacy in Kuwait, and you will no doubt learn so much about the city’s history here. Admission to both of these museums is free, making them well worth checking out.
Haggling at the Market
Just like at any market, you are likely to find a few stalls that are selling similar items, which is why it is always a good idea to take a walk around the souk first, so that you can compare quality and prices between stalls. There are a number of chain stores, as well as restaurants, within the market, and while you should definitely not try to haggle at these, haggling is expected when it comes to making purchases from the actual market stalls. However, make sure that you actually want to buy the item in question before haggling for it, as it is impolite to haggle for something that you do not really want. You should also ensure that you are always polite and pleasant, keeping in line with local customs.
What to Wear
No matter where you are from, it is essential that your clothing is kept in line with local traditions, so you need to ensure that the clothes that you wear are respectful and conservative. This will also mean that you will make a much better impression on locals, and are likely to bag yourself a few extra bargains.
The Souk Al-Mubarakiya is one of the best souks in Kuwait, and is definitely a must-visit for those who are seeking an authentic shopping experience. Even if you are not looking to make any purchases, the market is still so much fun to browse, as the ambience here is always filled with energy and excitement.