- Title: Saudi souk gives tourists a taste of medieval life and culture
- Date: 20th July 2017
- Summary: ACTORS POINTING THEIR BOWS AND ARROWS BOY AND GIRL HOLDING HANDS AS THEY WATCH
- Embargoed: 3rd August 2017 16:56
- Keywords: cultural festival arts and crafts Souk Okaz Saudi culture
- Location: TAIF, SAUDI ARABIA
- City: TAIF, SAUDI ARABIA
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA0026QIROT1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: **PART AUDIO AS INCOMING**
More than just a market, Souk Okaz in western Saudi Arabia, was once a cultural, political and legal melting pot.
Today, visitors can get a taste of the medieval forum, with re-enactments, poetry recitals, ancient sports and traditional crafts on display.
A two-week cultural festival is under way for the eleventh year, drawing tourists from around Saudi Arabia and the wider Arab world, to see what life was like at the bustling souk which was active from approximately 542 to 726 AD.
"Okaz market is a meeting place for literature, poetry, heritage and multicultural civilizations," said Jasem Al-Musa, who was visiting the festival, near the city of Taif, from the other side of the country.
Camel's parade and archers show their skills. In one part of the festival, artisans display ancient crafts such as woodworking, while, outside, horsemen re-enact medieval sports - racing in pairs to extinguish fires lit in the sand.
"Even if you attended daily you would not be bored of what you see," said visitor Rashdan Al-Rabiai.
The local tourist authority is now considering making a more permanent attraction, "Okaz Tourism City" at the site which is also undergoing archaeological excavations at what is considered an area of historical importance as a symbol of Arab heritage.
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