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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
One Thousand and One Nights: Surprising Zamalek Souvenir Shop
Right around the corner from Pub 28 in Zamalek, stands One thousand and One Nights, a tiny but truly charming shop. Its space is jam-packed with a variety of souvenirs, clothing items and scarves, as well as glass ornaments, vintage postcards and other interesting haberdashery.
At first glance, you may assume that it’s a shady-looking kiosk that sells scarves and shawls only; as these are the obvious items on display outdoors. However, once you make peace with the wooden sign displaying the shop’s name– with half of its letters missing– you’ll be pleased with what‘s inside.
The shop has a wide array of bits and pieces, the majority of which are very reasonably priced. So step in, ignore the slight stuffy atmosphere and have a good look at the various items on display. They have Bedouin woven shirts and galabeyas that can range between 300LE and 900LE, cotton and embroidered blouses from Sinai for 80LE, little Bedouin makeup cases and purses for 45LE, Russian flower scarves for 45LE, wide-legged harem pants for 80LE, funky over-the-shoulder bags adorned with studs, coins and beads ranging between 45LE and 140LE, as well as really cool kheyameya-print table cloths in vibrant colours for 45LE.
They also carry beautifully crafted copper lanterns on display with die-cut crescents in different sizes ranging between 60LE and 350LE, which can make for a very artsy table piece or decor for your home. You can also find diverse coloured glass ornaments and balls identical to the ones sold in Khan El Khalili, sold here for between 10LE and 60LE. With a price bracket of 15LE to 80LE, you are guaranteed to walk off with a scarf or two from their stock of paisley and burqa patterns or plain cotton and wool pashminas.
Given Cairo’s crazy traffic especially during the week, it is of no surprise that many would think twice before popping down to Khan El Khalili or any other markets for authentic items and oriental souvenirs. This is where this charming little shop comes into play.So if you’re just strolling along the streets of Zamalek or would like to pick up a nice memento for a friend, One Thousand and One Nights is definitely worth checking out; as you are guaranteed to walk out with a funky item or two at an affordable price.
Gift Carnival has a variety of wrappers, bows, ribbons and such to make gifts as festive as possible and prices range according to size and amount of supplies used. . While they had a lot of plain balloons, the occasion-specific ones were out of stock, although you can also grab some helium balloons (8LE each). Gift bags are also available in surplus, with prices ranging about 10LE. Celebratory cards (12LE) are offered in great variety, many of which were simple and appealing, without being too tacky or fussy.
Apart from gift accessories, you may also find the gift itself while roaming the shop. A definite highlight, and one of the nicest items we’ve seen around, were porcelain travel mugs (100LE) in a range of vibrant colours and patterns.
The shop also carries lightweight storage pieces - essentially a straw chest of drawers - at a very steep price of 790LE; single baskets are also available, most useful for storing small items and knickknacks. Interestingly, the Gift Carnival had quite the selection of scarves claiming to be Burberry and Gucci, at 100LE to 150LE.
Other household items include candles; a large one was discounted from 260LE to 130LE, while scented candles come at a much more reasonable price between 20LE and 40LE. Gift Carnival also has a range of kitchen utensils such as egg whiskers, cheese graters, cheese knives and vegetable peelers – all around 20LE each.
If you’re looking to decorate your Christmas tree, the shop also has a bunch of tree ornaments available. Though not very exciting or unique, a box of large round ornaments, with two per packet, costs 25LE.
The knickknacks are endless at Gift Carnival. Louis Vuitton inspired lighters, refrigerator magnets, decorative boxes, pillows, stuffed animals, there appears to be no restricted theme.
If you’re looking to wrap a gift or buy a helium balloon than Gift Carnival is likely a good stop.