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Yemen: San'a suq

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San'a suq | Yemen | Asia

[Visited: May-June 2004]

Apart from being an open-air museum, the Old City of San'a also houses the central market or suq. Entering the old city through Bab al-Yaman or Southern Gate, you directly walk into the suq. While the old city is an open-air museum of San'a architecture, the suq is where the old city comes alive. You can easily spend hours walking around the main suq streets and alleys for hours without ever walking the same stretch twice. It is probably a good idea to let your sense guide you through the area as you go, following your instinct and intuition. Stalls with preciously decorated jambiyas or traditional daggers, colourful clothes, piles of raisins, spices, shiny brassware, and many, many more things.

Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): Brassware in San'a's suq

After a morning stroll through the suq, I decided to eat something. I bought a sandwich at a stall and sat down to eat it while seeing market life pass by. An old man offered me tea, and the son of a shopowner bought me a cactus fruit. Once again, the hospitality of the Yemenis was exceptional, they all wanted to talk to me, point things out to me, and make me feel at home. Sititng there, I saw various sellers of tea, fruit and sandwiches pass by, someone collecting empty tea glasses, while I heard the cling-clong of the workers going on.

Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): One of the many alleys in the suq of San'a

Again, I regretted not speaking much Arabic, for I had loved to be able to communicate with these people, more than just basic hand-and-foot quizzes. There was animated conversation among others, people shouting, laughing, Yemeni men in traditional dress passing by, barely a woman in sight since both salesmen and buyers are almost always men. I wondered what the difference with the Middle Ages mnight be, and could only think of the plastic bags that people give when you buy something.

Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): Sana suq: brassware for sale
Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): Intricately decorated jambiyas for sale in San'a's suq
Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): Street in the suq of San'a
Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): People in San'a's suq
Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): Craftsman working on a jambiya in San'a's suq
Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): Raisin suq in San'a
Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): Snack seller in San'a's suq
Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): Salesmen in San'a's suq
Picture of San'a suq (Yemen): Salesman and customer in San'a's suq

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