We have scoured the bazaars of the Middle East to find locally-crafted souvenirs that are more unique than the usual fridge magnets and keychains. So, think of yourself as Ali Baba and grab a bag. By Radhika Sikaria
Kilim | Turkey
Take home a bold, patterned Turkish kilim that can be used as a mat or carpet. The geometrical designs created by local artisans using the slit-weave technique are exceptional.
Find It Here: Explore the streets of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul to find the best ones.
Tavla | Turkey
Tavla (backgammon) is one of the oldest board games in the world, a favourite amongst the Turks. Get a handcrafted box with intricately detailed wood mosaics from Turkey and try your hand at it.
Find It Here: Stop by Tuncer Gift Shop, on Taya Hatun Street in Sirkeci, Istanbul, to get yourself a set
Raki | Turkey
Known as the lion’s milk, the unofficial national drink of Turkey is a must-try. Made of twice-distilled green grapes and aniseed, it is paired with small plates such as roast eggplant and cheese.
Find It Here: Look for popular brands of Yeni Raki, Tekirdağ Raki, and Efe Raki. These are available in liquor stores across the country.
Keffiyeh | Jordan
The square white scarf in black or red checkered pattern has become a fashion statement across the globe, but it has history and tradition attached to it. Bring back the gender-neutral headdress indispensable in the Middle East and use it as an accessory.
Find It Here: Get the traditional keffiyeh from Urdon Shop in Amman.
Dead Sea Salts Crystal | Jordan
If you haven’t had enough of the Dead Sea experience, buy the mineral-rich natural salts and continue your spa sessions at home. You will need these stress-relievers more after your holiday ends.
Find It Here: Trinitae at The Soap House in Amman sells lotions, soaps, scrubs, and salts with the Dead Sea minerals.
Attar | Bahrain
These alcohol-free perfumes are sold in beautiful glass bottles. Made of essential oils derived from plant sources, they are long-lasting and their mild scent is soothing. Something that you should tell people while giving them these: It is believed that attars attract angels.
Find It Here: You will find many shops in the Manama Souq. Look for Kingdom of Perfumes for a mix of local and international brands.
Sumac | Israel
The spice that adds flavour to the Middle Eastern cuisine—from salads to dressing and dips—is a ground coarse powder called sumac. This tangy, crimson spice is native to the region and is the perfect gift for a food enthusiast.
Find It Here: Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem offers tours, cooking workshops, and a variety of ingredients and spices.
Traditional Shoes | Dubai
The Arab-style leather footwear is beautifully designed with embellishments and embroidery. The handmade sandal with a curved tip looks stylish.
Find It Here: The Bur Dubai Souq is Dubai’s oldest. Come here for these Aladdin-style shoes and go back with a bagful of pashminas and scarves.