Garments to Electronics
Shopping is amongst the favourite activities of the locals especially in the evenings, when it is cooler. Shops in Male’ tend to stay open until 11pm at night but are closed during prayer times. ‘MajeedheeMagu’, which is the main road on the island, has various shops selling goods from the smallest commodities to virtually everything you could think of. A high proportion of them sell shoes and clothing. The shops also sell perfumes, cosmetics, jewellery, watches and electronics, to name just a few. There are no international chain stores in Male’ but international high street labels such as Roxy, Billabong and Lee can be found in many of the clothes shops. The airport is one of the best places to pick up duty-free perfume purchases. Joining the bustling throngs of shoppers on the main shopping streets in the evenings in Male’ makes for a unique experience of the Maldives’ frenetic capital city.
Canned fish produced at the canning plant in Felivaru, Lhaviyani Atoll, is available in a number of shops in Male’. Tuna used for canned export is caught by the traditional pole and line methods, as are all fish caught in the Maldives, therefore the Maldives’ fish exports are ‘dolphin friendly’. Vacuum-packed smoked fish and chipped dried fish are also available in many supermarkets around Male’. These genuine Maldivian products also make excellent gifts for friends and family back home or just take some home if you would like to try creating some Maldivian cuisine for yourself.
The Fish Market is always included on sightseeing tours of Male’ and makes for an interesting pitstop. You can watch all kinds of fish of all sizes being hauled in by fisherman, from skipjack tuna to sailfish and trevally.
Just a block away from the Fish Market on the northern waterfront is the Local Market, which is divided into small stalls. The pace is slower and the atmosphere peaceful compared to the hectic activity in the rest of the neighbourhood. Each stall is filled with a variety of local produce from across the atolls. Here you can find different kinds of local vegetables, fruits and yams, packets of sweetmeat, nuts, breadfruit chips, bottles of home-made sweets and pickles and bunches of bananas hanging on coir ropes strung across the ceiling beams. Another building just next door sells smoked and dried fish.
It is not too difficult to find your way around the main areas of Male’, especially if you carry a map with you. After all it is only two square kilometres. The main street,MajeedheeMagu, runs right across the island from east to west. ChaandhaneeMagu on the other hand runs from north to south. Most souvenir shops line the northern end of ChaandaneeMagu, earlier known as the Singapore Bazaar for its many imports from Singapore. Guides and vendors speaking in English and other foreign languages patiently wait to serve the visitors. These shops are stocked with an ample supply of gifts and souvenir items ranging from sarongs to fridge magnet, postcards and swimwear. If you’re looking for an authentic souvenir of the Maldives, the best buys include the ‘thudukuna’ (the Maldivian mat woven with local natural fibres), Maldivian sarongs (usually in black with white bands) and lacquer-work painted in shades of black, red and yellow. Wooden miniature ‘dhonis’ (Maldivian sailing boats) also make an attractive gift. When shopping for souvenirs, please do keep in mind that the export of products made from sharks, turtle shell, black coral, pearl oyster shell and red coral is prohibited.