| Shopping can be great
fun in Cairo, whether its for an everyday souvenir
or for something more valuable.
Painted papyrus scrolls, often embellished with hieroglyphics, are
and perhaps a little more tasteful than the stuffed camels
or models of the pyramids. Egypt may be rich in antiquities but
it is not rich enough to supply the thousands of vendors who will
towards tourists offering a furtive glimpse of a ‘genuine
antique’, in any case, it is illegal to export
without a licence.
Among the items that do make attractive legal souvenirs are jewellery,
leather goods, perfume, copper and brass items,
and herbs and spices. Almost anything can be found
in the city’s main market, the Khan al-Khalili
in Islamic Cairo. While this is on every tour itinerary and there
will be 100's of shopkeepers and touts to deal with on arrival,
it is a vast place and most visitors do not venture into its interior,
where many locals do their own shopping. Jewellery, silks, spices and hand-made gellibayas (long
robes) make great purchases, as do perfumes from the Perfume
Bazaar area. Several French perfume houses source their supplies
from Egypt, and in the bazaar pure essential oils are available
The Street of the Coppersmiths (An-Nahassin) is
the place to go to find a good range of brass and copperware. Large
engraved brass trays are very popular and can be bought complete
with a wooden stand to turn them into a coffee table. More easily
transported are the bowls, cups, plates and ornamental trays.
Silver and Gold is largely
available and not expensive, provided you bargain the price down
a little. However, local taste tends towards the gaudy or the mock-ancient,
incorporating scarab beetles, hieroglyphs and pharoah’s heads ,
so it may be a hunt to find something a little more unusual. In
addition to the Khan al-Khalili, the jewellery
shops on Sharia al-Muizz li-Din Allah and Sharia Abdel Khalek Sarwat are good bets.
Normal opening hours for shops are Monday to Saturday from roughly 9.00 am to 8.00 pm however in the summer they will close between roughly
12.30 pm and 4.00 pm with the tourist shops often staying open
Haggling is a way of life, especially in the markets and bazaars,
visitors should not be
to try. Prices are inflated for visitors
but remember that it is meant to be fun and not a fight to
the death, if the final price is between half and two 3rds of
the original asking price, then both parties should be happy.