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Why is there a Saudi market called ‘Souq of the Dead’?

The reason behind the name is the fact that a proportion of the clothes on display have been donated by the relatives of those who have been recently deceased

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There is a famous market in Saudi Arabia’s coastal city of Jeddah named “Souq of the Dead” which sells clothing which one belonged to the deceased.

The market itself extends within al-Sawarikh market in the western region of Jeddah. The reason behind the name is the fact that a proportion of the clothes on display have been donated by the relatives of those who have been recently deceased. The vendors then sell these charitable donations at prices ranging from five to 20 Saudi Riyals per piece.

Mohamed Ali Saleem, an economics researcher, said that the shoppers frequenting the market are usually African or Asian immigrants with limited incomes in Saudi Arabia. He highlighted that the market is popular because among the goods on sale are some luxury international brands which are too expensive to purchase elsewhere. Some of the merchandise are also from other sources including excess stock and second-hand clothing.

Al-Sawarikh market is regarded as the largest in the world due to its surface area exceeding one million square meters and the number of stalls which are over 15,000.

In addition to the thousands of stalls are approximately 1,000 stores selling junk and scrap metals. The market is one of Jeddah’s landmarks and has been in existence for over three decades.

It is called al-Sawarikh due to its proximity to the military base located nearby in the south of Jeddah.