It was 5 p.m., yet it was still very hot. The wind blew gently around us, carrying the desert sand along with it. You could hear their cries as they called for customers to see their displayed merchandise. “Wonly 5 Riyals, wonly 5 Riyals,” screamed a nearby vendor. You could even see a pulsating vein in his neck as he shouted with all his might to attract customers. I supposed he meant “only 5 Riyals”, but no one seemed to care. This was a different world - different from the classical view in the malls of Jeddah; this was Haraj, the place where you could get any used item at a bargain price.
Some people called it the modern jungle and I now understood why. In some places, merchants had piled up clothes in heaps: scarfs, blouses, trousers, skirts, and shirts were all piled high. Other merchants displayed their merchandise in a different manner. Some hung clothes on hangers while others displayed them on handmade mannequins. Shoes were thrown on the market floor, and a customer had to sweat through the process of selecting a pair of his or her choice.
Crockery and cutlery were displayed on stalls, but these seemed to have been picked up from the ocean floor. At first glance, one would wonder whether anyone would want to buy such dirty-looking stuff for use in their homes, let alone for use at the table during meals. Yet, people were scrambling to get their share of the goods.
Haraj is the ideal place to shop for people who have low incomes. Clothes, electronic products, furniture, tools, and anything else that you do not find in the malls, you could get them here – and at a very good price. However, before venturing there, you must be prepared to sweat it out to get what you really wish to purchase.