Saudi Arabia: Gifts from the Kingdom


This is the time of the year when there is a mass exodus from the Kingdom of both expatriates and Saudi nationals.  Schools are finished and the daily heat becomes unbearable giving only a brief respite in the later hours of the evening.  All who can will generally take holidays to cooler climates.  This brings me to the point if one is coming from the Kingdom and visiting family or friends abroad, what are good gifts to take to them from Saudi?

Here are a few suggestions which are well received and traditional of the Kingdom.  Dates (tumer) are always acceptable and representative of the Kingdom’s hospital.  The dates can come sealed in a package complete with pit or there are so many other options such as chocolate covered dates with a pecan in the center rather than a pit (one of my favorites).  What I think are other lovely gifts and especially if the recipient had been in Saudi is to receive some Makkah sweets or even a box of Mah’moul.  The Mah’moul may not sound original but it is such a delicious and typical Saudi cookie that is delicious.

Table top books are always nice to receive.  Desert Publisher is a great place to obtain table top books by one of Saudi’s best known photographers, Mohammed Babelli.  A collection of his unique photo books would make a treasured gift to any home.

The shadowbox gifts which have either gold or silver figures of oud, daggers, falcons, Arabian horses, prayer beads make nice gifts to display.  Prayer beads are a unique gift to receive too.

Personally I prefer to give a gift which be enjoyed and hopefully displayed.  An abaya or thobe may be interesting but it would likely be put away in the back of a closet.

If you are taking a gift to a cook, if it is possible to export, a gift of selected Saudi spices would be a great gift.  I’ve yet to find anything near the kind of spices available in Saudi and miss those very much.  On a reminiscent note I loved going to the spice market and mixing my own spices.

Oud is a great gift for a Saudi but not always as enthusiastically received by non-Saudis.  Oud has such a unique scent it seems non-Saudis either love it or find it too strong and intense.

I look forward to hearing from both Saudis and expatriates about the items they like to take as gifts when leaving the Kingdom.


11 Responses

  1. My Disclaimer: I’ve never lived in Saudi Arabia but have quite a few Saudi friends. The following are comments made based on what I’ve experienced of Saudi culture, friendships, and products.

    The rest of my post:
    The packaged dates are AMAZING!! But this is coming from a girl who is passionate about food. haha. I have yet to taste any dates that have the similar texture. I have heard that they are prepared a little differently than in other places.

    (I think one of my friends from the Gulf region shared the Mah’moul cookies with me before. They were quite nice, too, but I prefer the Saudi dates as it is harder to find something similar to it in the US.)

    Also, coffee from Saudi Arabia with the cardamom would be a very much appreciated gift. I much prefer the light roasts of coffee. What can I say? I value yummy foods and beverages! 🙂

    Oud has a very interesting scent, and there are different price points associated with different “qualities” or something like that of Oud I believe? I didn’t love or hate that one I smelled, I just found it interesting and pleasant.There are also one or two other Saudi perfumes that I have smelled that I like; I just can’t remember what they are called.

    I find it very sweet when someone shares a part of his/her culture with me. Anything unique to the culture that I can’t get elsewhere is so nice to experience. It’s not just about the product; it’s also about the delivery. It’s about how they share it with you, the value it has to them, etc. When someone shares memories of home with you or something else that matters to him/her, it’s very sweet and meaningful. I consider it the best part of the gift.

    Sharing a traditional Saudi dinner with others is also a very nice experience. I honestly prefer sitting on the floor to sitting on chairs, although eating with hands does take a little getting used to! If there are any special Saudi spices, I might also like that as a gift because then I can practice my cooking skills! (Notice the “food” theme here…hehehehe)

    Also, fashionable clothing that I wouldn’t be able to get here. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an abaya; it could be anything. I also have some dresses in my closet that are more “clubbing” attire or what I would call “wear in” clothing that I might wear around the house just for myself but not out to public places. I view clothes as pieces of artwork or architecture- the beauty is not just in the style but also in the construction methods. I’m a sucker for good embroidery and beadwork when done well.

    Possibly the best give I have yet to receive would be if I got to meet some Saudi women and they taught me traditional dances. That would be amazing!!!

    Oh yes, and if anyone wants to give me free Arabic language lessons, I’m all up for it! 😉

  2. when my ex-bf’s friends came back after a visit in saudi, they brought him oud and baclava which he shared with me (well, i had to fight for my share of baclava 😉 )

    personally, i LOVE the smell of oud/bakhoor! i used to smoke it in my room and then leave the house for the fragrance to seep in. after my return, my room would smell so lovely!

    baclava on the other hand was the best i had in my entire life! it simply crumbled in your mouth ahhhh

  3. Of course the best gifts to give in this season would be something suitable for the coming of Ramadhan next month followed by Eid.

    For men a good quality bisht for Eid prayers and for receiving guests would be a good idea; intricately designed Saudi gold would be exciting for women or even hijab accessories. Then there is the beautifully packed bottles of zamzam water that can be gifted to whole family. There are so many types of dates so special ones such as ajwa dates would be a better choice accompanied with Saudi gahwa.

    For husbands going back home to be with their wives, the bat-like jalabiyah that is almost transparent and usually worn for dancing or special occasions and it also comes with a head cover would be a naughty idea although it is not meant for that purpose.

    Little girls love Fulla, the Arab version of Barbie. Boys will be boys so any toy cars or video games would keep them occupied and happy during the holidays. Also those colored thobes with beaitiful designs would be a nice idea.

    Ramadan gifts would include dessert bowls, the quaint gahwa cups, arabian coffee pots, decorated cushion covers, or those crystal sweet trays.

    Baklawa and ma’moul are also nice gifts. These come in nice gift packs.

  4. “chocolate covered dates with a pecan in the center” That sounds so good I may make some. 🙂

  5. I enjoy hearing the suggestions and ideas from others. The Saudi tea sets are wonderful gifts as they are so delicate and beautiful. A Saudi coffeepot is a wonderful gift too…in fact the first gift I received from Abdullah was a Saudi coffeepot!

  6. I love to buy used/previously owned Syrian made arabian coffee pots (for gifts) from the Princess or used item souk. They are very usable (often have been re-tinned on the inside), but have a much more antique and vintage appeal than the machine made models made in Pakistan or Korea. You can find Saudi made ones but those are very expensive and often sold only in ‘real’ antique shops.

    Obviously dates are a fantastic gift. Also Taif rose perfume and yemeni honey.

  7. We’ve gifted many sets of those crystal coffee cups with a thin gold border .. very elegant and i’ve yet to see that type outside ME. Most of our friends love that gift..
    Apparently there’s a special store in riyadh that sells those, or atleats that’s where F buys them from… we usually stock 4-6 sets of those at all times. unfortunately he’s not been to saudi for a few yrs now and hence no stock.. they really are lovely, elegant and look wonderful when served .

    I lile the dates too. those with slmond stuffed in them.. very filling and godd source of energy especially after a workout.

  8. I´ve brought a sheesha everytime I come to Finland, they are very popular and everyone requests to have them 🙂
    Its become a trend to smoke sheesha and the ones from Saudi are beautiful plus they come in a handy box for transfer.

    For women jallabiya and house dresses are a good idea and its easy to find pretty embroidered ones in so many different colors.

    Another popular gift for men and women has been the black and white checkered scarves. the palestinian style ones are also in fashion now and what better than to have a real arab scarf 🙂

    We also get the dates,everybody loves the different kinds, especially the almond and chocolate filled ones! the salhia date shop has nice date arrangements and you can design one of your own too.

  9. Are these pictures provide historical back ground?I am fond of seen the historical places of the world.How can i got these pictures?

  10. this type of Saudi Arabia: Gifts from the Kingdom American Bedu is somewhat much like my own blog maybe this concept undoubtedly getting to be common

  11. i dont receive any gift yet 😦 can i have 1?

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