Rabat's medina and kasbah offer limited but rewarding shopping opportunities. Mingling in with those selling everyday wares such as olives, cooking utensils, plasticware, and clothing are shops stocked with all the same fine handicrafts as those in the more well-known shopping souks of Marrakech and Fes. The difference in Rabat is the relative lack of hard sell, with most shopkeepers either selling at a fixed price or only bartering out of some sort of respect for this ingrained local custom.
For fresh produce, visit the Central Marché, located on the medina side of avenue Hassan II between Bab el Had and Bab al Bouab, open daily from 8am to 8pm. There's a Label 'Vie supermarket, 4 av. al Maghreb al Arabi, 100m (328 ft.) west of Bab al Had, which also sells fresh produce along with standard supermarket groceries. It's open daily 8:30am to 9pm.
Medina -- As the day draws to a close, hawkers converge on rue Souika to spread out their wares and seemingly compete with each other over who has the loudest and catchiest sales pitch. Although the goods are largely domestic products and housewares and of little interest to travelers, wandering along the crowded street at this time is one of my favorite pastimes, as the street comes alive, and the true sense of being in a residential medina can be experienced.
Rue Souk as Sabbat is a covered extension of rue Souika, and houses many small shops selling jewelry, jellabahs, babouches, musical instruments, and modern clothing and footwear. At the southwestern entrance to Souk as Sabbat, on the corner with rue Bab Chellah, is the small, dusty treasure trove of Ben Hamou Metloub. The septuagenarian has been here for "only 15 years," and his shop is packed to the rafters with trinkets and curios. Inside you'll find, among other things, ancient trade beads, darbuka drums, fossils, gemstones, kif pipes, tambourines, leather wallets, and walking sticks. He's open daily, usually from 9am to 9pm.
At its northeastern end, rue Souk as Sabbat meets the junction of rue Oukassa and rue des Consuls. Rue des Consuls is Rabat's main shopping street. Here you'll find many shops selling handicrafts from other parts of Morocco, such as Marrakchi leatherwear and Fassi pottery, along with locally made colored-hide lamps, babouches, jellabahs, and carpets. Rabat carpets can have as many as 150,000 stitches per square meter (13,935 stitches per sq. ft.), and were traditionally made in workshops within the medina and kasbah. There's still a carpet auction held here every Monday and Thursday morning.
On the corner of rue des Consuls and rue el Harrarine (aka rue el Kheddarin) is the small Rabat boutique for French potter Marilyn Bottero (tel. 0661/224268 or 0537/674798). Her fun, brightly colored creations come in different forms, from cloth bags and lampshades to tagines and teacups. Marilyn also conducts creative workshops for both adults and kids. Two doors up is Pop Art-L'Art Moderne (tel. 0679/781526), the tiny workshop-cum-outlet for metalworking brothers Mohammed and Mohssin. The brothers create both traditional and contemporary lampshades from various metal sources, including old olive oil tins and other canned goods. The shades are fashioned with designs from hundreds of tiny holes punched into the metal, casting fantastic shadows on the nearest wall. Both shops are open daily from roughly 9am to 6pm, usually with a break for lunch between noon and 2pm.
Kasbah des Oudaïas -- Toward the end of the kasbah's main street, rue Jemaa, is a wonderful art gallery, Nouiga Galérie d'Art (tel. 0537/711646). Inside you'll regularly find original works from local artists, especially photographers, as well as a large range of different size prints taken from watercolors depicting everyday life within Morocco. There's also a selection of quality coffee table-style souvenir books, and information regarding upcoming cultural events. At the end of rue Jemaa is a carpet cooperative, where you can watch local women toiling away on the traditional looms, though they expect a gratuity (10dh) for the privilege.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.