Souks: from the traditional souk to the virtual one
There isn’t a Mediterranean town without a colourful market thronging with people. The most famous for the excellence of their merchandise, and also the most fascinating, are the colourful souks of the Arab world and the various bazaars which, originating in Persia, have become a typical feature of many southern European and Eastern Mediterranean countries.
A popular and important tourist attraction, the souk is also the main nerve centre of local economy: it is here that staple goods and fine handicrafts are exchanged. Not only is this important for its economic significance but also because of the great cultural and social value that every souk represents for its community. Along the narrow alleyways in the relentless noisy bustle, the artisans’ workshops treasure the traditional skills that have been handed down to them through the generations. Immersed in such a characteristic setting, the visitor is captivated by the bustle, the scents and colours of the many workshops in these traditional markets.
Taking part in the Souks’ lively activities is not limited to selling one’s products, it is also an opportunity for social and political interaction. Every merchant, along with selling his products, feels the need to involve the tourist or visitor in the culture and history of the souk.
However, whereas the Souk represents the physical location par excellence, with the advent of the internet and e-commerce, many souks have transferred part of their appeal online. One can’t ignore the fact that today it is possible to buy handicrafts from any part of the world without physically going there. With the breaking down of barriers and physical confines, a lot of hard work and ingenuity has made it possible for many artisans from the Mediterranean to have their work accessible in all corners of the world.
Many products are now available with a simple click: all you need is a pc and a connection to visit a virtual bazaar and buy the desired object. And if, on the one hand, there are many positive aspects, such as for example, access to a larger market, on the other hand, buying online does not give you an understanding or the opportunity to be fascinated by that modus vivendi represented by the souk. Placing an order for a Tunisian ceramic with the click of a mouse from home, does not hold the same sense of a historic and cultural experience as buying on the spot.
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There isn’t a Mediterranean town without a colourful market thronging with people. The most famous for the excellence of their merchandise, and also the most fascinating, are the colourful souks of the Arab world and the various bazaars which, originating in Persia, have become a typical feature of many southern European and Eastern Mediterranean countries. ...
English teacher, cultural mediator, journalist - chief editor. Global Vision / Ilmediterraneo.it.