Okay guys, I just came back from Batha...sorry I've got no pictures because I was running errands while I was there.
Batha is a sprawling collection of shops and markets, so it's very easy to get lost there. The part I visited today was marked by a post office in the middle of a parking lot. Mental note: this is the first post office I've ever seen in Riyadh. It was empty. I didn't see any stamps. I don't understand!
Anyhow, the first thing you'll notice about the demographics here is a lot of Indians but also a lot of Filipinos. As a result, you'll find a ton of Filipino grocery shops and bakeries with delicious bread in them. The male to female ratio seems a bit higher at this souk than at Deira or Kuwaiti. That's just an anecdotal observation so I can't say it for certain, but if you get uncomfortable having too many sets of eyes on you at one time, this might not be the market to go to alone.
I believe I was wandering around in the electronics section of the Batha market, and consequently had nothing to buy. There are a couple of malls that are just full of computers, DVD players, TV's, clocks, etc. etc. Lots more back-of-a-van type stuff.
Batha also has a sizeable fish market and you can smell it from a mile away. I won't lie, it's pretty nasty looking, but I'm from Toronto where the closest thing we have to a fish market is Kensington, which is about ten notches up on the sanitary ladder to God, but then again, Canada is cleaner than most parts of the world. I know people who buy fish in Batha and they love it; they go out of their way to go there. So don't let me sway you either way.
Batha also has a fabrics section and many tailoring shops. We've accompanied a groom to help him choose material for a suit before, which was fun. This souk is definitely geared towards men, so there are a lot of men's clothing stores and shoe stores. Also, they have your usual cornucopia of junkyard sh*t - like a tower of duct tape next to a bin of socks, things like that.
They also have a row of uniform shops there, so you can buy yourself any kind of service industry outfit you need. Mechanic jumpers, maid outfits, waiters and stuff like that. If you're wondering why you would need anything like that, well I don't know. I'm just telling you what I saw!
Regarding safety, people recommend that you cover your head there and at Dira as well because there are supposedly a lot of Muttawa nearby. I know a woman who got her boob grabbed at Batha. And there are rumours of people getting stabbed in the Kuwaiti Souk. People have also talked about being mugged too. Well my only advice is to be alert, don't get lost, and try and bring a friend with you if you can. I've gone alone against common advice because I don't have any friends ha ha ha. I'm kidding (sort of). That being said, I didn't see too many other women there walking around by themselves. Riyadh's already restrictive enough without all the fear-mongering chatter, so do make a visit to Batha if you're curious - I, your internet friend - think you'll be fine. Just watch out for your boobs!
3 months ago