Traditional Crafts of Saudi Arabia

I’ve written in the past about books that are written and published by Saudi authors. ( Since those writings, I have discovered a few more books that are worth sharing and to my knowledge, only available locally (sorry for those outside of KSA).

The Traditional Craft in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: As the title implies, this book showcases the traditional crafts of Saudi Arabia. It is complete with photos and explanations taken from all the different regions of Saudi Arabia. This book covers from old door carpentry to making bird cages to the copper smith and all his wares. It also tells the story about each craft and either where the craft originated in KSA or which region is most well known for a specific kind of craft. To my surprise I even learned that gun powder making is consider a craft and historical industry in Saudi Arabia. Let me share the paragraph with you on this particular subject:

“Gun powder is one of the types of ammunition which was made in the past in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whether in the desert or in the city. Gun powder consists of salt, brimstone and coal. All these raw materials mixed together become a black powder and the specialist crushes those material, using a stone called a ‘gun powder crusher.’ After that it is cooked several times. For the last stage, it is dried so as to be displayed for sale in finger shapes.”

The photos accompanying this segment are quite interesting depicting how gun powder is being made and what it looks like afterwards. And I had always through brimstone was a fictitious ingredient referred to only in Halloween tales!

And in case you were wondering what is the most famous and traditional craft in the Kingdom and originating primarily from Makkah and Medinah? Why prayer beads (al masabeh) of course!

Interestingly bread baking is also considered a craft of Saudi Arabia. I wish I could capture the succulent images from the book but let your imagination work for you while I share yet another paragraph:

“Al Farranah (Bread Baking) is one of the popular crafts in the Kingdom. There are different kinds of baking and some bakers are specialized in cake making, while others are specialized in fulfilling the need of the market for bread. Other bakes are specialized in baking the dough sent to them by ladies. They are given dough balls that represent their wages and they bake dough balls and sell them out in the market.”

I can’t resist and also have to share the paragraph which identifies making and selling spices as a craft for this gives unique glimpse into Saudi culture and traditions as well:

“Al Attarah (spice dealing) is one of the oldest traditional crafts in all regions of the Kingdom and the people specialized in the field are called ‘ATTAR’ (spice dealers). This craft is very common in Makkah during Hajj season. The people who are presently working in this field sell medicinal herbs, spices and some other popular medicines.”

The photo which accompanies the chapter on spice dealers shows an old wizened Saudi man in his shop where every square inch and nook and cranny is consumed by special spices.

The book continues on with the stories and history behind making head bands, wooden boats and of course Oud burners too. The end of the book had some of the more traditional crafts many associate with Saudi Arabia such as the Saudi coffee pots and embroided dresses (thobes).

This book is a real treasure to behold. My husband and I received this delightful book as a gift. While the stories about the crafts are written in English, the forward which contains publishing information is all in Arabic so regretfully I am unable to provide that information in this writing. However this is a book which should be promoted by the Kingdom and readily distributed as it is not only an excellent table top book but once you pick it up and start reading you do not want to put it down!


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