Visit Riyadh’s Date Souk

The Riyadh date and vegetable market, also known as the date souk or fruit souk, is located off exit 14. It’s THE place to go for some serious date-shopping and to get on a natural sugar high! Even if you’re not a fan of dates, which I guarantee you will become after visiting this place, it’s definitely worth the visit just for the amazing experience. There’s also a large fruit and vegetable marketplace adjacent to the dates souk called souq ar Rabwa. The directions to the souk, GPS location and google map location can be found at the end of this post.

The best time of the year to visit the souk is during the late summer months when the dates have just ripened and there’s plenty of fresh produce.

Best time of the day to visit would be early mornings, the souk opens around 9 am until noon prayer and the fruit market is open even earlier. The souk opens again after Asr prayer.

Dates are extremely healthy in so many ways, they would deserve a post on their own just to explain all their amazing health benefits. The health benefits of dates are mentioned in the Quran and Hadith, and the most sought-after (and expensive) kind are called Ajwa which come from the Madinah area. Ajwa dates, which the Prophet Mohammed mentions by name in a Hadith, are thought to be the most “potent” of all the date fruits in preventing many diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The fiber rich, soft Ajwa dates also aid in detoxing the body.

date souk riyadh
Most of the dates at the Riyadh market are sold either by the kilo or by the box but you can always request a small portion and the vendors are happy to let you sample all the different varieties available. For a first timer it can all be really confusing, there’s just so much variety. There are dates which are used for pure delicacy purposes, some are used to make juices, paste, flour or syrup. The possibilities are endless! There are dates available here all year round but the fresh dates begin to come into season in the summer around July-August when the dates ripen enough in the trees.
Dates ripen in four stages, which are known throughout the Arab world by their Arabic names kimri (unripe, green), khlal (full-size, crunchy, yellow), rutab (ripe, soft), tamr (ripe, sun-dried, dark).

The most sought-after and expensive dates come from Medinah, called Ajwa dates. Prophet Mohammed mentions these dates in particular as being especially beneficial for ones health.

Side entrance to Riyadh date souk.

When dates turn yellow from the original green color they are called rutab. That’s when they’re really crunchy and a bit sour. This is the favorite kind of date of many but personally I prefer the sweeter and softer ones called sukari. The darker color, dry and ripe dates are called tamr.

Dates come not only in a rainbow of different colors, but they also vary in size, moistness, texture, ripeness and sweetness.

Visitors at Riyadh’s date souk are welcome to sample the different varieties and some vendors will offer some Arabic coffee to go with it. Don’t forget to haggle!

It’s always a good idea to haggle at the souks. The vendors even expect to haggle a little bit over some Arabic coffee and dates, of course.

These bright red dates look very pretty and inviting, but be warned they also taste extremely sour!

The date season is best during the late summer months when the fruits start to ripen and they get their signature sweetness.

I must admit that before coming to Saudi Arabia, I had no clue how delicious dates could be. In my home country Finland we hardly ever get the chance to taste really good or fresh dates so I never imagined these tiny wrinkly things would turn out to be the most mouth-watering super fruits! Now my freezer is full of date fruits (the rutab kind) all year round.

Here’s some information how to freeze your date fruits:

how to freeze fresh dates infographic

Directions: Heading North on the Eastern ring road, take exit 14 to the your right. Then take a right from the lights and continue on the service road until you get to the main entrance of the marketplace area. There is a huge vegetable and fruit market next to the date souk. The entrance to the date souk is on the left hand side, you can enter from any of the many gates on the side or the main entrance where the guards are sitting. This is where you can stop for some complimentary Arabic gahwa and of course, dates!!

GPS co-ordinates: 24.695271, 46.779406 that is the North entrance to a long building which runs North/South.

Google Maps:

سوق الخضار والفاكهة
Ar Rabwah, Riyadh 14215, Arabia Saudí

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Interested in finding more Riyadh souks? Check out this post: Bisht Souk 

the date market in Riyadh, Saudi-Arabia

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  • LynHzbJune 30, 2013 - 9:38 pm

    this post is great ! the pictures are so lovely, i wish i could come and visit that market.
    but here’s a question; ajwa dates are being sold here at very high prices (minimum £15 for 500gr). they say it is because there is moer demand than supply and it is hard to grow them nowadays. is that so? or is the price being kept high because of the desirablity of ajwa dates due to them being mentioned in the hadith (Sahih Bukhari: Vol 7, Book 65, Number 356 and Vol 7, Book 71, Number 664 and Sahih Muslim: Book 23, Number 5083)? are they more expensive than other dates as well at your end?

    keep blogging! love it!
    salaam alaykum


  • LuvAlaskaJuly 2, 2013 - 10:38 am

    Those dates look amazing. I can only seem to get a hold of mejdool dates here in Australia, which is disappointing as there is so much variety out there. I would go gaga in that souq lol

    Laylah, could you do a post on your Islamic reversion? Such as how you first discovered Islam, reactions from family and friends etc. How do you balance your Islamic lifestyle with relationships with your Finnish family? But I guess this wouldn’t be much of an issue if they were completely accepting, however.

    You briefly touched on the back lash from so called ‘friends’ in the ‘hate mail hall of shame’ post, and I’m fascinated by how it happened.

    I understand if it’s too private to blog about, as it’s a highly personal matter.


  • Denise BomfimJuly 2, 2013 - 12:05 pm

    Salam, Layla!

    how are you? Loved the photos and the text.
    I would like to visit the souk and buy the dates…
    I wrote a poem abou the vision of an arabian woman about love. Take a look at it, it is written in portuguese and english too.

  • LaylaJuly 2, 2013 - 12:14 pm

    LuvAlaska thanks for the suggestion, I have been wanting to write that post for a long time, just never got around to writing it (same goes for 50 other ideas I have in my head but no time to implentent!

    Life’s just too busy right now with the kiddos so small :)

    I really hope I can get the chance to sit down and write it for Ramadan.
    I can just quickly say that from my family’s side they’ve all been accepting and most really didn’t even care that much since it’s a private issue we don’t discuss such things in our family or society at all.
    Friends are/were another story altogether though..ReplyCancel

  • LaylaJuly 2, 2013 - 12:16 pm

    Hi Jamilah, the dates you asked about are more expensive here as well, and it’s because they’re the ones mentioned in Hadith and are from Medinah. The kg prices vary according to quality but can go up to over 100sr/kg!


  • Animé P. CapeñaMarch 29, 2014 - 2:49 am

    Yummy datesReplyCancel

  • RobertAugust 6, 2014 - 1:45 pm

    Hi Layla

    Superb photos and info on your posts. However, a bit hard to find Date Souq – any chance of a map or CoordinatesReplyCancel

    • LaylaAugust 9, 2014 - 2:14 am

      hi Robert and thanks for the comment,
      I don’t have any co-ordinates for it or a map sorry :( my suggestion is you ask around for it, if it’s that you’re in the area but can’t locate the actual souk? Ask for souk al Rabwa, or vegetable market, it’s right next to it. Good luck!ReplyCancel

    • LaylaAugust 19, 2014 - 12:37 pm

      Thanks Allan!ReplyCancel

  • Ignacio JaureguizarAugust 30, 2014 - 1:11 pm

    Amazing experience!! spent a few hours in the souk ! I think I wont be able to eat all the varieties i bought!
    I am putting the exact location details in case anyone needs it:

    سوق الخضار والفاكهة
    Ar Rabwah, Riyadh 14215, Arabia Saudí

    also opening times: early morning the best, midday until 3pm still activity in the dates galleryReplyCancel

  • LaylaAugust 30, 2014 - 10:39 pm

    thanks a lot ignacio for the location details and your feedback, much appreciated :)ReplyCancel

  • EkhwanAugust 26, 2015 - 5:07 pm

    Thank you for the infos
    Is there entry fees?ReplyCancel

  • LizzieAugust 27, 2015 - 7:57 pm

    Hi there, just wondering what days the markets are open? Hoping to go this weekend if they are open!

    • Laura of ArabiaAugust 31, 2015 - 5:04 pm

      hi there it’s open everyday but friday mornings closed!ReplyCancel

      • LizzieSeptember 29, 2015 - 11:18 pm

        Thank you Laura! Do you know what time the markets open?ReplyCancel

        • Laura of ArabiaSeptember 30, 2015 - 9:03 pm

          They open in the mornings around 8 until noon, then reopen in the afternoons after asr prayer until maghreb.ReplyCancel

  • John GarrowaySeptember 6, 2015 - 5:39 pm

    Greetings to all readers.
    My wife and I went to the date market yesterday with a couple of friends. We had a very enjoyable morning. Lots of interesting and friendly people there, and excellent dates of course.
    I just want to advise that the directions listed are not quite right. Where is published “Directions: Heading South on the Eastern ring road, take exit 14 to the your right. ” that is incorrect and would send you in the wrong direction. A change to “Directions: Heading NORTH on the Eastern ring road, take exit 14 to the your right.” will make it correct.
    Best Regards

    • Laura of ArabiaSeptember 8, 2015 - 2:31 pm

      thank you John for eltitng me know I really appreciate the feedback. I need to double check this as also readers are telling me they found it with these exact directions :)ReplyCancel

  • PamplonicosOctober 30, 2015 - 10:07 am

    We were past Friday October 23th at 16:30 and was open.
    We buy a delicious 4 kg Sukari dates box for 70 Riyals and the experiece of a caddy following you all time with a trolley is incredible.ReplyCancel

  • Maurits Van Der VlugtMarch 5, 2016 - 12:00 pm

    We went there today by Taxi. Bit confused as to where the dates were (the building actully runs EW) but got there in the end. Note the market closes around lunchtime, but there’s a few date shops open and guys selling dates from the back of their truck. You can find a more precise location at (three word address)ReplyCancel

  • Syed SharfuddinDecember 7, 2016 - 1:40 pm

    I am one great fan of dates and the best dates in the world in my opinion grow in Saudi Arabia.ReplyCancel

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