Sunday, April 16, 2006

Some Supermarkets and Malls in Sanaa

My first visit to Shumaila Hari supermarket in Hadda, Sanaa Yemen was when we were driving around in the taxi like crazy all day looking for a supermarket that was suppose to be infront of Mata'im al hamra (red rastaurants) My Yemeniyyah friend told me she had visited it after she got married and it was one of the first supermarkets, actually she said it was beside that big red bricked building in Hadda that they had not finished yet, bottom line it was confusing and no one knew where this place was. The taxi driver had no idea neither did we and we were driving around all morning until we reached a sort of nice area with big villas and they were governmental offices and embassies as he explained to us then we turned in a little street and there it was ""Shumaila Hari"" I had no no idea what it was neither did my Yemeni friend (I'll call her Nada)
We told the taxi to stop and that we'd check it out and apologized for the headache we caused him going around town like crazy.

Shumaila Hari: a nice large two floor supermarket and I call it "Sanaa's Wal-Mart" because the top floor has clothing, shoes, blankets, furniture and other. They got electronics, movies, jewellery, houseware, toys, even small appliances and some larger ones downstairs. And of course food!
There is a fenced parking lot infront of it and then a few steps and I think some sort of fast food stand on the right side and popcorn on the exit side. A security guard placed at each door, entrance and exit. As you enter up the steps and past the doors there is an "Information Centre" on the left side and the women at the desk would ask you to leave your extra bags behind if you have any, then she will hand you a card with the number of the box which she placed your things in and you carry on into the store, grab a buggy and off to the right..
Cookies, Chips, Snacks, Chocolate all on the right hand side then on the right left wall is the dairy, milk, cheese, and I noticed they have certain cheeses and things available all the time like SingleSlices, feta, kiri, and so forth. And other things like mozarella, cheddar, Edam with the red wax coating, swiss cheese and other types of cheeses are sometimes available.
Along the right side of the supermarket is the freezers, lots of juice varieties, more so than that I was used to in Canada (so you see, there are some advantages in Yemen!) Middle isle freezers on that side have frozen prepared foods, spinach pies, pizzas, kababs, and so forth. Next is frozen veggies, corn, peas, mixed vegetables, green beans always available. Spinach, broccoli and cauliflower were sometimes available, french butter is easily found at any supermarket in the freezer and frozen puff pastry dough, philo and other.
Ice Cream is at the front in smaller freezers, the saudi ice cream in buckets is quite good, the vanilla and mocha are my favourites. They are available in smaller or larger containers.
I found shumaila hari to be the only supermarket that I know of so far to have fish, (except for a branch of Al Huda that carries shrimp in the San'aa trade centre - or Markaz al-Libi (libyan centre))
They sometimes have large fillet fish, sardines, Jahsh (not sure exactly what it's called in english but it's a really good fish and they roast it in restaurants alot - I'll get to that later inshaa Allaah)
Shrimp is almost always available in large blocks (HUGE actually) or smaller containers for 1000 Y.R (which is like $5 or so) and lobster is sometimes available, I was told last time at the cashier when I was there and after I picked one up and dumped it in my buggy that they sell them by the kilo, and it's for about 3500 ($15)
There is a small counter for bread near the fish, if you are looking for whole wheat bread like myself you may find the whole wheat pita here brought from the lebanese automatic bakery which is near the supermarket I think. You pay for bread right there and then he places it in a bag and you put it in your buggy, don't forget to remember you had already paid because once I paid double for something after placing it on the coveyer belt at the cashier.
Certain things at the supermarket are cheaper than in other places, for example the local foods, milk, yogurt, and so forth are less than if you were to buy them in the corner shops, so it's kind of a balance because some things are pricey and so I find it worth it to buy my yogurt, milk and local ingredients from the supermarket as well while I'm there.
Along the back right side following the fish is the meat on the right and the deli perhaps, cheeses are also available behind the counter, olives, pickled mixes, dips, hummus, labneh and so forth.
The veggies are around that area facing the man who sells nuts and seeds, and that whole area mostly, fish, meat, deli, nuts, veggies and bread you would pay right there for whatever you select.
Isles along that side include the pet foods (they have a pretty good variety), teas, cereals, then on the back sides baking goods, some canned goods, sauces, oils, and spices, facing those shelves are the instant noodle soups, canned foods, pickles, dips, jars, mayonnaise, and some canned fruits, shelved cheeses are on the opposite side at the front, then towards the back behind the staircases are more shelving for pastas, baby needs, papertowels kleenex, and along the wall are the oils, and then airfreshners and al the way to the opposite side is a large section for cleaning supplies, shampoo (TOO MANY VARIETIES!) soaps, and lots more.. coming down from that area back to the front is the house supplies, things from dishes, to decorative items for homes, toys, electronics and at the front left side of the store is the electronics and house and kitchen appliances.
Back to the middle and around the staircases below are some beauty supplies, cameras, and other personal items.
Going up the stairs towards the left you'll find the perfumes straight ahead, towards your left the furniture and a small sports store all the way at the end near the window and towards your right all the way along to the other side of the store is mostly clothing (either smaller stores or a section belonging to the supermarket where you would pay for the items downstairs at the cashier.) There is also a tailor who sells and tailors womens abayahs, hijabs, khimars, and face veils.
The childrens section is towards the right along with a more younger womens (maybe teens) section facing the undergarments section and then shoes and mens clothing and shoes, blankets and slippers fill the remaining side.
As you come down the stairs and reach the small platform there are socks along the wall as well.
The cashiers are a the front, I think about five and once you finish shopping and check out you can leave your buggy for a few seconds and check out the mini shops running along the front of the store. There is a baskin robbins facing you as you check out and then a mobile store I believe and an Iranian who sells jewellery (some really nice things for unbelievable prices) I highly recommend anyone to check him out, he's got these cute little metal boxes with designs and stones molded into them, he sells them for 300 Y.R and they make great gifts (I sent some back home to my family and they just loved them)I also bought a lovely silver and turquoise necklace that is now one of my favourite pieces of jewellery. Also has nice middle eastern jewellery boxes with mother of pearl and wood engraved into them (beautiful!)
Two more jewellery stores are located on the opposite side but I haven't checked them out really, some of the pieces they have look very Indian as I've noticed. As you leave the supermarket you'll be asked for the bill and the security will stamp it then you can leave down the steps and if you are a women without any help they will carry the bags down for you to your car after they have bagged them at the cashier (very kind hehe)
You can find taxis waiting outside along the street and they will help you to put everything in the car, but settle on the price first as I've learned and make sure they are familiar with the area you live in or else you'll be going in circles again. A fair amount for me was about 300-400 Y.R to get me home.
I bought my stove from Shumaila Hari, it's tiny but it has a sort of temperature timer for the oven that you can monitor at least, I believe it was about 55,000 Y.R. And at the time I had no idea if that was good or not but I was told it was a good price and similar to the one I found here in Shumaila near Taiz Road though this one was much better of course.
My closet is also from shumaila Hari, it's one of those IKEA sort of pieces that you have to put together (well they did have prepared ones) and well ... being impatient I bought it in boxes and set it up at home, also bought a cabinet sort of piece and another closet for Nada's step daughter which I put together also.
For all those reasons above they gave me a 15% discount card on all products (discluding those personal stores inside) and 10% of the clothing from shumaila hari above.
Now you know why Shumaila Hari is my favourite supermarket! hehe

Al Jundool Supermarket: I found this one another time when we were again going in circles in search for more markets, It is located very near Shumaila Hari but up the main street located along the right side of Shumaila Hari (I think it's up the street not down??) Anyway there are some hotels in that area, Regency Hotel and Sky (something, can't remember).. anyway I think the street you hit is Iran street or something and you'll see the supermarket at the end of the left side of the street.
It is smaller than shumaila hari, one floor only and also has a parking lot infront of it surrounded by a low wall and fence.
I like al Jundool for several reasons, the prices are good, unlike al Huda which I find quite expensive, for some reason I spend a little too much there and don't get quite enough stuff.
Al Jundool also has a nice bakery section within, and a small cafe/juice bar towards the right, a cellphone, electronics and makeup counter along the left.
Clothes, toys are on the left and along that whole left side then there is a small section for some furniture, house items, stationary, kids supplies, bags and things.. etc.
Towels, blankets, robes and more.
Cleaning supplies and shampoo are in the isles near there and the shelves are along the middle of the store with foods in the middle, and towards the opposite end of the clothing are house and kichen supplies, and I think they have a nice variety.
Towards the back it's more open, juice on the right side and cheeses and so forth. A counter along the back with the deli, meat and no fish though.
Veggies which you must bag yourself then hand to the man to weigh and he places a sticker with the price on it then you pay at the cashier and nuts and bagged grains and spices along the wall near the left side.
The breads in the front bakery section are from the Jundool Bakery (owned by the same people) on zubeiri street located next to Al Huda supermarket.
They used to sell nice mini whole wheat loaves but after awhile I had difficulty finding it again and they stopped supplying it, everytime I went and asked they didn't have, finally they ordered some and promised it would be there and after weeks of checking in with them I found some but it wasn't like the first time, rather it was more like a long whole wheat bun that they had sliced for me since they knew I wanted sliced whole wheat toast.
Al jundool is a nice organized, small, fairly priced supermarket in Hadda and I would recommend it to anyone.

Al Huda: Located on Zubeiri Street facing Sanaa spices, and beside Al Jundool bakery. Al Huda is a well stocked supermarket, medium sized, a bit on the expensive side but alright.
I found it more crowded than any of the others since it's small and on a main crowded street.
As you enter you will find house appliances and suppiles towards the far right.. the pastas, dry goods, candies and cereals on the shelves on the right and along the wall.
Then on the left the freezers run along the right wall of that section and another smaller freezer for cheese faxing those, smaller shelves in that section, a nice dry goods section where they package products under their name Al-Huda.
Cleanind supplies towards the left side of that section and then deli and meat and veggies on the opposite walls and in the middle open freezers with butter, refrigerated deli meats, sausages, hotdogs and other, ice cream, prepared frozen foods, frozen veggies.
Both Al-Huda and Shumaila Hari give you a bill but al Jundool does not (therefore it's kind of hard to keep track of the prices just for your own information)

Any other interesting supermarkets and stores that you know of? Let me know by email or comment, thanks.


The three malls that I know of so far are Sanaa Trade Center, Yemen Mall and al Komaim centre.

Sanaa Trade Centre (Libyan Centre): By far the best of all and most elegant and sophisticated.
I visited it several times, in fact it's one of my favourite places to hang out.

NOTE: You may notice stores close at dhuhur time, a little after the noon and they open in the Asr afternoon again so don't get caught going around those times or you'll be sitting around in the lounge area bored to death (unless you like sitting).

Al Huda stays open I think, it's a mini supermarket and branch of the al Huda on Zubeiri street.
Located in the far right corner from the main entrance it's a two floor with foods on the first and appliances, stationary, and personal care products on the second level.
The vegetables at this place aren't very good, the freezers have some products that weren't easily found in other supermarkets (frozen spinach, baby cooked shrimp) and so forth.
They have a large section for chips, snacks, chocolate and pop. Juice in the middle wall freezer, cheeses on the right side and a deli and shelves for canned goods, cereal adn other foods with grains and dry goods along the back wall on the left.
Back to the Mall: When I'm looking for certain things, people often refer me to jamaal street but honestly I prefer this mall, I've heard it said that the Sanaa trade centre is very expensive also and some stores are but I found it alright and as long as you look for quality.
If you are looking for shoes, I recommed ecco, I bought some shoes there and they are fairly good priced, Bally is quite expensive and they didn't have my size, if you are size 8 or 9 you may have more problems finding your size (wonder why?)

WOW has shoes too but I wouldn't really recommend it because they bring their products from China and I had to return the boots I bought because the heel feel off the first day I wore them and they were so hard and tough that I had blisters on the back of my feet after I wore them only one day.
The purses they have there are ok, and if you find something to suite your taste then you're in luck and just grab it because the prices are pretty good.
As for the clothing, I bought a skirt and blouse and they have a nice variety, but a friend of mine bought a knit top and it had holes in it after she wore it only 2 days.. so we returned that too along with the boots (Umm. I mean exchanged as they don't refund)
There is a bed and bath shop which is kind of elegant, their towels looked good quality and so if I need any I'm heading over there, also they carried sheets and blankets, robes ...etc.

Basically they have appliance stores, luggage stores, many clothing stores moslty for women, some mens clothing, shoes, teen clothes, optical shop, small cafe and sandwhich place, book store, mobile shop, childrens clothing, electronics and computers, movies and music, jewellery, designer watches, perfume, makeup, crystal, a natural beauty shop, and baskin robbins. (either you can sit inside or there is a small sitting area opposite of it in the mall area near the information desk and stairs going up. Oh, and a Masjid (mosque) on the roof top which is just great! )


Not as elegant as the Sanaa Trade Center but pretty good, the first floor has some interesting stores, check out the silver guy at the back left side, he sells some really neat things and well priced also a cream and natural beauty supplies carries some vitamins and supplements as I've noticed.
There is a cafe located on a platform in the middle of the mall and towards the back are the stairs to go up along with elevators in the front and more stairs and elevators in another section.
If your looking for some good quality socks there is one store, not sure which floor but it's a small store that sells nice black womens socks, perfect for going out with the abayah.
Also there is an italian purse and shoe store on the third floor that has some pretty elegant designs. Other than the malls you won't find very nice purses and some of the designs they sell elsewhere and on Jamal street are just really strange.
The abayah stores at the Yemen Mall are alright, I would suggest you look for a khaleeji Abayah as they are better quality than those sewn in Yemen and I really notifed the difference after I bought some from Dubai and then saw whats available in Yemen.
The face veils in Yemen though are pretty good, and some of the best and most comfortable I've seen (I know you may think the interfacing is a little too stiff and you're not gonna try it, but once you do you'll realize it's really quite nice, just don't wash it or if you do make sure you place something heavy on top to keep it flat and have it dry that way)
The shaylah scarves are nice, the emirate ones I brought are really tiny and so I really prefer the Yemeni ones (plain please without any flashy stickers, embroidery, beads or rhinestones)

Komaim Centre: Ok, Last and indeed least is the Komain Centre, the oldest mall and as I was told when they opened it was something rather "Fancy" but now it's overshadowed by Yemen mall and the Sanaa Trade Centre though it seems many people still prefer to shop there. I found it a little like Shumaila and so it wasn't anything special really. Don't have much to comment about it.
Again if anyone has any details about shopping centres or interesting places in Sanaa please let me know by email or comment, thanks.
And as for the old city of Sanaa, yes I've been there twice, details to come......... Inshaa Allaah


Omar Barsawad said...

You write very well! And detailed!

There are no real supermarkets in Mukalla; but the most beautiful, purest blue sea! East of Mukalla, from 60 kilometers or so - there are the most beutiful beaches I can think of! With pure golden sand!

If you like papayas: then travel to East Africa, Uganda in particular. You will find a variety of papayas of all sizes; some weighing up-to six kilos! And some almost - seedless! And the tastes? Unbelievable! Same goes for mangoes!

PapayaTree said...

Thank you for visiting and for the complements.

I love to hear about Mukalla from your blog and am looking forward to visiting it when my dad comes to visit me from Dubai, we're planning to go around to Aden, Taiz, Al Hudaidah, Soqatra, Hadhramawt and all over inshaa Allaah.

I LOVE papayas! Maybe one day I can go there and enjoy the African papayas.

Anonymous said... is very informative. The article is very professionally written. I enjoy reading every day.

fofo said...

thank you so much for your great and detailed blog!


Omar Al-Hajjaji said...

OMG, thank you so much! I'm a Yemeni actually but I've only lived in this country for a year and now I'm back here after 5 years... After what I read it seems like that Yemen is not so bad after all...Thanks a lot..:D Time to go to Sana'a Trade Centre...:P

PapayaTree said...

Omar, you're very welcome! I'm sure by now (7 years later there is a lot more stuff!)