We all know that Arab markets are fine places for haggling. It’s the Arab way, ask anyone who has seen Lawrence of Arabia or The Life of Brian.
You pop down to the souk searching for salient souvenirs, relying on the haggling skills finely honed in the boot markets of Blighty. For instance you may want a dish dash - the price for a typical long sleeve, plain white cotton dish dash will start at, say, 15 Omani Rials. After a sore-throat inducing haggle session the stall holder may finally come down by a third which means you buy at 10 Omani Rials. Honour is served, and you have a piece of local culture for the price of (insert object of your choice costing around sixteen quid). You also return with tales of how you bagged a bargain by besting the Byzantine barrow boys.
But before you do a deal and dole out the dosh to a devious dodgy discount dish dash dealer, consider nipping into the local Carrefour (a French supermarket, m’lud) which is just a few miles from the self-same souk, where an identical dish dash is available for 2.9 Rials.
For the same money as your souk-shopper you could have also have had a natty short sleeved number with black piping (mmm, nice!), a very stylish Kurma (pill box hat), and a crocheted skull cap which Carrefour calls a Prayer but probably has a much more exotic name in Arabic.
You would also have a story to tell your enthralled family and friends about the strange effects of the World Trade Talks, multinational cultural imperialism and the free market economy. Come back Peter O’Toole, we’re running out of glamour.