When it comes to ever-evolving, growing and dynamic cities, few in the world compare to Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s capital has progressed tenfold in recent years and is well on its way to becoming a cosmopolitan capital on the world stage. Today, the city embraces the old and new, respecting centuries of tradition and heritage but rushing headlong into change, fuelled by a generation of ambitious thinkers and creators, notably in the fashion industries. As a result, Riyadh’s shopping offering is a blend of eccentric and classical, modern and traditionally Arabian. From glossy malls and immersive concept stores utilising AI to centuries-old marketplaces, here are the best places for shopping in Riyadh.
Taking the Kingdom into a new era of luxury retail experience is Via Riyadh, a new shopping destination merging Saudi’s rich history with its bright future. Situated near the city’s Diplomatic Quarter, in the birthplace of the Second Saudi State in the 1820s, the new development includes luxury retail, the new St Regis hotel, the Via Mercato dining market and a cinema. The new development brings some of the world’s best-known names into one spot in the Saudi capital for the first time, such as Aquazzura, Aesop, Brandon Maxwell, Elie Saab, Dolce&Gabbana, Tom Ford, Sergio Rossi, Zimmerman and Maria Tash, along with art dealers, jewellers and floral boutiques. Some stores are exclusive to the development, like Artfeena Boutique, Arabian-inspired couture house Mohammed Ashi and L’Atelier Nawbar fine jewellery.
What’s fantastic about Via Riyadh is you can enjoy a full day of shopping in Riyadh – the cinema is one of the most luxurious experiences around, where guests can lie on plush double beds in a sumptuous deep blue theatre, among other themed rooms. The complex is as much a spot for dining as shopping. Start your day at Cafe Elle, a chic Parisian-themed destination with cakes and patisserie, lunch at French bistro ferdi or LA favourite Joan’s on Third and enjoy dinner at London hot spot Gymkhana, Scott’s, Sexy Fish and New York City legend Raoul’s – to name just a few. This is the place to truly feel Saudi’s pioneering spirit and taste what’s to come as part of Vision 2030.
Diplomatic Quarter, viariyadh.com
Without a doubt, the most experiential, forward-thinking shopping at Via Riyadh development is MWAZ Riyadh. As much an immersive experience than a shopping destination, the new store is spread across 2,750 sqm and three floors, combining luxury, style and exceptional service under one roof, home to 80+ international and local brands from the world’s most known, contemporary and up-and-coming designers. Each floor offers a unique shopping experience, utilising AI, projection mapping, holograms and other cutting-edge technology to bring the shopping experience to life in a way never seen before in the Kingdom. The ground floor marks the start of the journey, where a twisting staircase lords over the space, encompassing shoes, womenswear, lifestyle and art pieces. Huge screens line the walls – found throughout MWAZ – which project video content and show campaign footage and animations. Other design features include rotating walls, high ceilings, and towering screens, creating the illusion of bending and folding.
On the first floor, a gold-hued space named ‘Rarities’, shoppers can explore brands including Rasario, Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda, Nefsika Skourti, David Koma, Alex Perry, Victoria Beckham and Khaite, along with shopping in a warehouse-inspired space showcasing contemporary international houses like Materiel, Christopher Esber, Ulla Johnson, Christopher Kane, ASHLYN, JW Anderson, MM6 and Nanushka. An exuberant purple personal shopping room is also available for shoppers offering tailored VIP experiences like brand introductions and personal styling with mood boards and even diet and fitness plans.
Via Riyadh, Diplomatic Quarter, mwaz.co
Located in Riyadh’s most iconic building, Kingdom Center is one of the shiniest spots for shopping in Riyadh. There’s a great mix of mainstream high street and high-end luxury brands, plus a sky bridge that commands the best views across the thriving metropolis. This is the spot to see real Riyadh locals going about their day-to-day and experience Saudi shopping sights like a bazaar within a bazaar, specially designed for the privacy of female shoppers. Shoppers can enjoy luxury brands like Boucheron, Chaumet, Ali Bin Ali, Chopard, Mont Blanc, Hublot, Fendi, Graff, Messika, Chanel, Gucci and Richard Mille (to name just a few), and the centre is also home to the Four Seasons hotel – perfect for making a weekend out of your experience shopping in Riyadh.
King Fahad Road, kingdomcentre.com.sa
To taste Saudi Arabia’s yesteryear and embrace the Kingdom’s cultural heritage, head to Souk Al-Zal, a shopping area in the historic Al-Dirah neighbourhood. As one of Riyadh’s oldest souks, it was founded over 100 years ago and today is a maze of alleyways with boutiques and artisan workshops. The souk is best known for its antiques, handicrafts, old utensils and rare coins, alongside windows into Saudi’s past, like musical instruments and items related to ancient folk traditions. An antique auction is held every day in the market following Asr (afternoon) prayers.
Ad Dirah, Riyadh 12634, Saudi Arabia, visitsaudi.com
Shiny, white and ultra-modern, Mode Mall is a discreet and luxurious spot for shopping in Riyadh. The mall sits in the capital’s cool Al Faisaliah district and has a young, cosmopolitan buzz around it – with fun music playing from stores and delightful fragrances dancing on the air. A large dome ceiling floods the space with natural light – making the all-white everything shine even more brightly – and stores include Gucci, Michael Kors, Yves Rocher and Abdul Samad Al Qurashi’s rare oud oils. Restaurants and dining spots are just as polished and globally known, and the mall is home to Paul, Jolt, Starbucks and Japanese hotspot Yauatcha, amongst many others.
Al Olaya, mode.sa
Riyadh’s traditional souqs played an essential role in the city – as a glimpse into Saudi’s past and tasked with keeping the tradition alive and educating visitors to the capital. In the modern sprawl of shiny new developments, Souq Taibah is championing authenticity as it is, to this day, one of the main shopping destinations in the city for locals. As one of the oldest markets, this souq has long been the place to shop for Saudi women looking for new abayas, gold and jewellery, along with antiques and artisan products. The market closes at midnight, so you can take your time perusing its walkways, stopping at one of its many vendors for a traditional beverage or Saudi cuisine.
King Fahd Rd, King Fahd, Riyadh 11484, Saudi Arabia, visitsaudi.com
Riyadh Gallery Mall
Riyadh Gallery Mall is a popular and much-loved place for shopping in Riyadh. The covered shopping complex opened in 2007 and is located around a lake with activities for kids, plenty of great restaurants and gaming areas and an amusement park for children and families to stay entertained during shopping trips. There are four floors of international clothing, shoes, accessories and cosmetics brands. While the shops are a little tired and low-budget, the facilities for children are excellent, making it more of a family day out than a luxury shopping experience.
King Fahad Road and Olaya Street, riyadhgallery.com