Riyadh Bisht Souk- Winter Coat Shopping in Saudi-Arabia

Believe it or not, it gets cold enough in Saudi Arabia for wearing winter coats! Although admittedly, for a Finn such as myself, the +24C temperatures feel more like the perfect summers day weather, whereas in Saudi Arabia you will start seeing people in wool coats around then. Did you know that in Saudi-Arabia’s Northern areas it sometimes snows during the winter?Riyadh winter coat weather

The traditional Saudi winter coats, the farwa and the bisht, come especially handy when out in the desert where temperatures can quickly drop close to freezing after the sun has set.

A Bisht is a traditional Saudi cloak which is normally seen worn over the thobe at important occasions and celebrations such as weddings. These bishts are a very thin, sheer fabric. There’s also a type of winter Bisht made of thicker fabric perfect for the Saudi winter.

A Farwa is an even warmer and thicker winter coat, especially great to wear out to desert camping trips. Whereas the Bisht fabric is normally more rough to touch, the Farwas are soft and snuggly. Some farwas are incredibly heavy and thick, I swear you could wear these out to an expedition of Antarctica and survive!


The two best places to find these coats in Riyadh are the Al Owais souk and the Bisht souk (which I just coined btw) in Deerah.

I actually bought some Bisht and farwa for myself and family as gifts, which I’m going to take with me to our winter holiday in Finland! This also means the Saudi farwa will be going through vigorous testing in extreme Finnish winter weather conditions, ya’ll. I promise to report back how they perform. You can check out some pics from our previous winter holiday in Lapland here.

The Farwa coats range in price depending on where they are made (KSA vs abroad) and what materials have been used. Farwa Handmade in Saudi Arabia will cost more but is also harder to find. The most expensive ones will have the real lamb skin as lining and can go up to 2500 riyal in price such as the below examples of an exceptionally high quality Bisht found at the Bisht Souq in Deerah.

Handmade farwa with lamb

Farwa Handmade in Saudi Arabia

Blue and pink Bisht

The Bisht souk in Deerah has better selection of winter Bisht in different colorful designs, all handmade from natural materials.

Bisht souk Riyadh

baby farwa in Al Owais souk

baby farwa in Al Owais souk

pink girl farwa

This is what they tried to sell as ‘farwa for girls’ at Owais souk. Doesn’t look very traditional to me..

pink bisht

This pink bisht is now mine :)

Deerah souk

Tips for buying a farwa or bisht:

1. Always bargain from the price given and then bargain again. If the price doesn’t move then move your business to the next shop and you will see how the prices suddenly drop.

2. Find out where the coat is made and what materials were used, always support local produce if possible.

3. Try it on! Don’t be shy even if you’re a woman to try the coat on top of your abaya. I have bought several traditional farwa for myself in the “men’s” style. They are way more attractive and better quality than the ones aimed at female customers and quite frankly I don’t care if people think I’m wearing a “man’s coat”.  You will find with the gold trims and embroidery some men’s designs are actually quite feminine.

4. The farwa and Bisht are both supposed to be very lose when worn so you can wrap it around, so don’t buy one that’s too small, the sleeves will be too short.

5. Check prices from several shops before buying to see the price range.

6. They have sizes for babies and toddlers too, don’t pay more than 100sr for those.

7. Yes a woman can wear a Bisht and farwa too. You will love it.

8. If you like the Bisht size but it’s too long they can normally fix this for you on the spot at the Bisht souk, they have many tailors there, expect to pay around 20 sr for adjustments.

9. For the cheapest, thin version of farwa which are usually made in India you will expect to pay from 100-300 riyal. The thicker and the more decoration it has the more it will cost.

10. The farwas don’t have buttons, you’re supposed to wrap it around and hold it closed with one hand. The bishts will have strings to close it lightly.

Location of Bisht Souk in Deerah 

GPS coordinates: 24.629248,46.712315

Google maps:

Location of Al Owais Souk: 

GPS coordinates: 24.737758,46.661482

Google maps:

 Happy shopping!

Have you bought a farwa or bisht? Did you ever wear it outside Saudi Arabia?

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  • haifaDecember 23, 2015 - 2:18 pm

    as a saudi girl am very very glad that you liked our tradition clothes. I remember I took my south African friend to Deerah and she was amazed by different collection of farwas, and she bought many as gifts to her family.

    thanks a lot for sharing your experience.

    • Laura of ArabiaDecember 25, 2015 - 6:59 pm

      Thank you Haifa!
      Yes I really love the traditional clothing a lot! And I’m sure others would feel the same if they only knew about them, what they are and where to buy the, SO that’s why I wrote the guide :)ReplyCancel

  • SumayyahDecember 26, 2015 - 6:36 pm


    I love your website, it’s addictive, every time i find a new interest in Riyadh and type it in the web search bar, I end up back here!

    I’ve been wanting to buy a bisht or farwa for a few years now, but never find the time. How long have you been in Riyadh?

    I’d love to make the mens majlis room traditional, from carpet to jambiyyahs! We find ourselves in Dir’iyah on the weekends too! Really admired your doors! I actually took so many pictures yeaes ago, before finding you, a shop opened up in Dir’iyah lovely gift shop!

    Thank you for all your efforts blue abaya..

    Umm AbdurRahman SumayyahReplyCancel

    • Laura of ArabiaDecember 27, 2015 - 11:13 pm

      Hi Sumayyah!

      Thank you for the message, that’s great to hear that my site has been so continuously beneficial to you.
      To answer your question, I’ve been in Riyadh almost 8 years now.

      Is the gift shop you mentioned i Diriyah the one inside the AMA Art venue? Or perhaps some other one I haven’t discovered yet.ReplyCancel

  • SumayyahDecember 30, 2015 - 12:01 am

    The gift shop is located at the entrance, where the resturants are. Beautiful traditional gifts, i was like a kid in a candy shop!

    Please do reply here once you’ve found it and tell me what you think..


    • Laura of ArabiaDecember 31, 2015 - 1:32 pm

      Ok, I think I know which shop you mean, the one with the little trinkets like dallah coffee pots, baskets, oud burners etc?ReplyCancel

      • sumayyahDecember 31, 2015 - 2:19 pm

        Yes! That’s the one!ReplyCancel

  • JohanJanuary 4, 2016 - 5:57 am

    Hi there… Thank You for the information…ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraJanuary 9, 2016 - 2:53 pm

      You’re welcome Johan! Are you thinking of buying one for yourself :)ReplyCancel

      • eric mannyJanuary 9, 2016 - 8:27 pm

        Hello blue abaya. Please help me. I just want to know what date will start the janadriyadh festival 2016. I am a bachelor and i want to know the schedule for bachelor. I really want to go to janadriyadh festival. Thank you very much for your help blue abaya. More power to your very good website.ReplyCancel

        • Arabian LauraJanuary 12, 2016 - 12:56 pm

          hi Eric! Janadriyah begins 3 rd February. the first week until sunday are always reserved for singles (men only days).ReplyCancel

  • Estelle VokraJanuary 13, 2016 - 4:03 am

    Asalamu alaikum wa ramatullahi wa barakatuh, we have one Bisht (a masculine version) and I love it (often wearing it when eating outside during the autumn). Jazakallahu khair for sharing this beautiful detailed article ! Wa salamReplyCancel

  • Mobeen SikandarMarch 1, 2016 - 9:50 am

    I am having a hard time finding a website online to buy a farwa. I live in the United States now and really really want one. Any idea where I can buy one online and have it shipped?ReplyCancel

  • NinaMarch 1, 2016 - 9:52 am

    Does anyone know any websites from which I can buy a farwa and have it shipped to the United States?ReplyCancel

    • sumayyahMarch 1, 2016 - 7:59 pm

      I found some on ebay and amazon. What part of America are you? I could ask my American friends in Riyadh if they know specific places to order from more nearer to you inshaAllaah.ReplyCancel

  • lostMay 17, 2016 - 10:48 am

    I just wanted too say I love your site. Seriously, your awesome.
    I have a few questions I’ll be going to saudi soon but I dont want too be taking a lot of money with me for no reason ( I have a tendency of attracting pickpockets and mosquitos lol) . I’m going in ramadan I just wanted to know what the prices of abayas are like there .
    Any addition info would really help. Especially with the hot heat .I’m used too cold rainy British weather.
    Thanks in advance.ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraMay 17, 2016 - 12:21 pm

      hey there! thank you for the awesome feedback! Made my day!
      For abaya prices, it really depends on what you’re looking for and which city you’re in. In Riyadh for example, a “souk abaya” can be as cheap as 100sar. This abaya will be of poor quality and it will not look or feel great, but it serve do it’s “purpose, cover you in black, albeit in polyester lol. So for the heat, a no go for me personally. You can find polycotton which is slightly better for around 200-400 in the Riyahd souks.

      I rather invest in pure cotton linen or silk which are of course much more expensive. the first two material is easy to find in Jeddah souks for around 300-600. Linen and silk is more, around 600-1000 sar. if you get from a well known abaya designer they will be 1000+, sometimes around 2000-3000 even. Those abayas would most likely be best for special occasions not everyday wear. Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

  • […] surrounded by Saudi history. Highlights of this festival, situated next to the Al Musmak fort and Deerah souvenir and antique souk, include traditional folklore tents, handicrafts markets, Saudi food stalls and lots of activities […]ReplyCancel

  • […] come in so many different styles, show your personality with a pretty or individual abaya. Go to Dirah or Tayba souq and find tons of different abaya designs and colors. Design and personalize it! It’s what you […]ReplyCancel

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