Swords, incense and jewelry draw bargain-hunters and auction bidders to outdoor Saudi market

At an open-air market in Saudi Arabia's capital, haggling for a good deal is not just part of the experience — it's also part of the fun.

The al-Aqeeliya market in Riyadh is far from the upscale malls and designer boutiques found in the capital, where arguing over the price would be considered un-chic.

Inside the market's twists and turns, Yemeni and Saudi merchants smile to visitors, eager to sell the fragrant incense that burns outside their stalls and fills the air with a strong musk.

A group of elderly Saudi women have their own corner in the market where they sell cotton dresses worn by women around the house. Dusty metal jewelry sits in piles inside woven baskets for buyers to rummage through, most of it made in Pakistan.

Families stroll around the market, looking for the best bargain in stalls packed with toys, makeup, kitchenware and traditional abayas and thobes — the black robes worn by women in the Arabian Peninsula and the long white gowns worn by men across the region.

At an auction in an empty quarter of the market, dozens of men drink tea, smoke cigarettes and yell out prices over one another in bids for handmade Arabian swords, old mobile phones, wooden chests, copper and gold-colored tea kettles — even a stuffed hawk.

One man came with a suitcase full of beaded jewelry and sold the whole bag to an auction winner, who had just a few moments to inspect its contents before buying.

Souvenir swords that sell as decorative pieces can go for more than 40 Saudi riyals ($10) in one of the market's stalls, but at the auction 10 or more together sells for 100 riyals ($27).