June 01, 2017 Abu Muneer Ismail Davids

Please remember that you have come for Hajj and that you should try and gain as much reward as possible. Spend your time in the mosque and try to minimise the time spent shopping.

If you are one of those who “shop until you drop” then take lots of money. There are so many things that you can buy. You name it, you will find it.

If you plan to shop for small children, do not take their clothes or shoe sizes, instead measure them and draw the size of their feet on a piece of paper. This will make it easier to buy by measurement instead of size. Do not forget to take the measuring tape with you.

If you plan to buy jewelry such as rings, then measure their finger size with a piece of cotton or string. Cater for growth if you will be away from home for a while (children grow fast).

Use your gift list and tick the name off  the list as you buy. This will alleviate the stress and worry. Most pilgrims spend most of their money on buying gifts for family and friends. It costs them even more for excess baggage and customs duties. Shop wisely and keep an eye on the suitcase weight and your financial budget.

If you see something that you like, buy it. Chances are you will not be able to find the same shop again or the item will be sold. Sometimes even the shop is changed within the space of a few days. If you bought an item and you find it cheaper at another shop, do not feel cheated or accuse the shopkeeper of cheating. Just return the item and ask the shopkeeper to give it to you at that price. Most times they are obliging.

Do not necessarily accept the first price they quote you. Bargaining is the name of the game. The closer you get to Hajj the less bargaining power you will have ("supply and demand"). So if you are in Makkah or Madinah early, buy your things early as the prices of the goods go up a great deal during the very busy periods.

After salah you may find many street 'vendors' selling all sorts of things, from clothes, toys, electrical items, and watches to pyjamas. You will see them along the street displaying their goods on a bed sheet, while he is holding on to the ends of the sheet and his eyes are ever watchful. The reason for this is that they are illegal traders and plain-clothes police are constantly chasing and arresting them. Many times you will be standing with goods in your hand and the seller will have run away.

If you are buying any electrical items, check the voltage for 110v or 220v. Do not depend on the shopkeeper to give you the right sizes (e.g., "Will this fit my 5-year-old?" Chances are, he will say yes).

Having the right change (one and five riyals) to buy small items (e.g., drinks, fruit, etc.) is a great help. Sometimes you will find the shops extremely busy, so it helps to have the right amount of money available. This way, you will not have to wait for change.

You will be amazed to see how the shopkeepers deal with so many customers at the same time. You may experience the shopkeeper “throwing“ your change at you. Do not become flustered and think that he is rude. This is normal, so don't take it personally.  Most shopkeepers are reputable, but do not be surprised when you get some bad service.

Some pilgrims debate whether it is better to buy things (gifts, etc.) in Makkah or Madinah. We suggest you buy whenever and wherever it is convenient. The prices are generally the same.

Shopping in Jeddah is marginally more expensive. You also don't get all the same things that you get in Makkah or Madinah. On the other hand, you can get many other things, cheap to very expensive. All types of fashion clothes and perfumes are available: many varieties of shoes, suites, watches, materials and all the latest toys.

You can also find the latest electrical gadgets (games, radios, and kitchen utilities, etc.). Gold (jewelry), well, what can we say? There are gold markets everywhere (Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah) just waiting for you...

Before you buy your favourite perfume, t-shirt, shoe or watch, make sure that the name (label) is authentic (i.e. Charlie and not Charly, Lacoste and not Locaste, Panasonic and not Pensonic, Citizen and not Citazen).

Most groups take a day trip to Jeddah for sightseeing and shopping. If you do visit Jeddah, don't miss visiting the mosque on the water (built partially into the Red Sea). If you are not able to visit Jeddah, there are other shopping areas around Makkah City: Mansour Street, Sitteen Street and Aziziah. Ask the taxi driver.

Do not lose sight of the purpose of your journey, so avoid getting into arguments with any shopkeepers.