The Vibrant, Historic, Intense Souks of the Middle East

Published July 3rd, 2018 - 09:50 GMT

Written by Ewelina Lepionko

From Istanbul's Golden Horn to the shores of the Gulf and back across to the windswept Atlantic, merchants have been practising their trade in markets for centuries.

The oldest marketplaces in the world are the souks of the Middle East.

Today souks are still a part of the fabric of everyday life in many towns. The intense sights and sounds, the juxtaposition of colours and scenery, the sellers vying for your attention: the oldest marketplaces in the world are the souks of the Middle East.

View as a slider
View as a list
Jamaa el Fna market square at dusk, Marrakesh, Morocco, north Africa. Jemaa el-Fnaa, Djema el-Fna or Djemaa el-Fnaa is a famous square and market place in Marrakesh's medina quarter (Shutterstock/File Photo)

Jamaa el Fna market square at dusk, Marrakesh, Morocco, north Africa. Jemaa el-Fnaa, Djema el-Fna or Djemaa el-Fnaa is a famous square and market place in Marrakesh's medina quarter (Shutterstock/File Photo)

Gold on the famous "Golden souk" in Dubai Deira market, UAE. Deira is an old commercial center of Dubai with the biggest street market (Shutterstock/File Photo)

Gold on the famous "Golden souk" in Dubai Deira market, UAE. Deira is an old commercial center of Dubai with the biggest street market (Shutterstock/File Photo)

During the summer months, between mid-May and early September, popular flea market Souk Jara is held every Friday in Amman  (Twitter)

During the summer months, between mid-May and early September, popular flea market Souk Jara is held every Friday in Amman (Twitter)

Created in 2004, Souk el Tayeb was the first farmers market to open in Lebanon (Twitter)

Created in 2004, Souk el Tayeb was the first farmers market to open in Lebanon (Twitter)

Historical Khan El-Khalili Souk marketplace is one of the tourist magnets in Capital City Cairo, Egypt (Shutterstock/File Photo)

Historical Khan El-Khalili Souk marketplace is one of the tourist magnets in Capital City Cairo, Egypt (Shutterstock/File Photo)

Mosaic Ottoman lamps from Grand Bazaar in Istanbul (Shutterstock/File Photo)

Mosaic Ottoman lamps from Grand Bazaar in Istanbul (Shutterstock/File Photo)

Souk Al Mubarakiyah, Kuwait. This is a popular, traditional souk home to all kinds of Oriental souvenirs and handmade products, as well as meat, fish, fruits and vegetables(www.flickr.com)

Souk Al Mubarakiyah, Kuwait. This is a popular, traditional souk home to all kinds of Oriental souvenirs and handmade products, as well as meat, fish, fruits and vegetables(www.flickr.com)

View of the Muttrah souq in Muscat, Oman (Shutterstock/File Photo)

View of the Muttrah souq in Muscat, Oman (Shutterstock/File Photo)

Baskets with cinnamon and anise at Mahane Yehuda, famous market in Jerusalem. Israel (Shutterstock/File Photo)

Baskets with cinnamon and anise at Mahane Yehuda, famous market in Jerusalem. Israel (Shutterstock/File Photo)

Jamaa el Fna market square at dusk, Marrakesh, Morocco, north Africa. Jemaa el-Fnaa, Djema el-Fna or Djemaa el-Fnaa is a famous square and market place in Marrakesh's medina quarter (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Gold on the famous "Golden souk" in Dubai Deira market, UAE. Deira is an old commercial center of Dubai with the biggest street market (Shutterstock/File Photo)
During the summer months, between mid-May and early September, popular flea market Souk Jara is held every Friday in Amman  (Twitter)
Created in 2004, Souk el Tayeb was the first farmers market to open in Lebanon (Twitter)
Historical Khan El-Khalili Souk marketplace is one of the tourist magnets in Capital City Cairo, Egypt (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Mosaic Ottoman lamps from Grand Bazaar in Istanbul (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Souk Al Mubarakiyah, Kuwait. This is a popular, traditional souk home to all kinds of Oriental souvenirs and handmade products, as well as meat, fish, fruits and vegetables(www.flickr.com)
View of the Muttrah souq in Muscat, Oman (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Baskets with cinnamon and anise at Mahane Yehuda, famous market in Jerusalem. Israel (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Jamaa el Fna market square at dusk, Marrakesh, Morocco, north Africa. Jemaa el-Fnaa, Djema el-Fna or Djemaa el-Fnaa is a famous square and market place in Marrakesh's medina quarter (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Jamaa el Fna market square at dusk, Marrakesh, Morocco, north Africa. Jemaa el-Fnaa, Djema el-Fna or Djemaa el-Fnaa is a famous square and market place in Marrakesh's medina quarter (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Gold on the famous "Golden souk" in Dubai Deira market, UAE. Deira is an old commercial center of Dubai with the biggest street market (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Gold on the famous "Golden souk" in Dubai Deira market, UAE. Deira is an old commercial center of Dubai with the biggest street market (Shutterstock/File Photo)
During the summer months, between mid-May and early September, popular flea market Souk Jara is held every Friday in Amman  (Twitter)
During the summer months, between mid-May and early September, popular flea market Souk Jara is held every Friday in Amman (Twitter)
Created in 2004, Souk el Tayeb was the first farmers market to open in Lebanon (Twitter)
Created in 2004, Souk el Tayeb was the first farmers market to open in Lebanon (Twitter)
Historical Khan El-Khalili Souk marketplace is one of the tourist magnets in Capital City Cairo, Egypt (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Historical Khan El-Khalili Souk marketplace is one of the tourist magnets in Capital City Cairo, Egypt (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Mosaic Ottoman lamps from Grand Bazaar in Istanbul (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Mosaic Ottoman lamps from Grand Bazaar in Istanbul (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Souk Al Mubarakiyah, Kuwait. This is a popular, traditional souk home to all kinds of Oriental souvenirs and handmade products, as well as meat, fish, fruits and vegetables(www.flickr.com)
Souk Al Mubarakiyah, Kuwait. This is a popular, traditional souk home to all kinds of Oriental souvenirs and handmade products, as well as meat, fish, fruits and vegetables(www.flickr.com)
View of the Muttrah souq in Muscat, Oman (Shutterstock/File Photo)
View of the Muttrah souq in Muscat, Oman (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Baskets with cinnamon and anise at Mahane Yehuda, famous market in Jerusalem. Israel (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Baskets with cinnamon and anise at Mahane Yehuda, famous market in Jerusalem. Israel (Shutterstock/File Photo)