Saida Souk & Soap

As odd as it may sound, a bit south of Beirut in the town of Saida, we have a soap museum. It’s the Audi Soap Museum located in the middle of an old souk across from the famous Sea Castle.

First of all, the souk is very authentic – none of that commercial souk stuff like in Jbeil, where anything from a monkey to Marilyn is wearing a scrap of fabric with gold discs that jingle as you jiggle. It’s still got old little shops with antiques, junk, and a bunch of bakeries with sweets stuffed with dates and sugar.

Sesame bread stuffed with dates
Old Souk

Second of all, after going through the maze past the Khan el Franj (an old courtyard that is now used as a mini marketplace), there is the Audi Soap Museum. It’s small and quaint, displaying old tools and samples of soap, a video about the process playing on repeat, a cafe and a giftshop. There are handouts and pamphlets everywhere and it’s a simple process to understand but there is a guide in case you want some extra info. Be warned though, there are usually tour groups from Europe keeping them busy.

Be prepared for the giftshop.

Everything smells so good and the fact that this soap is natural makes you want to buy more. Plus, there’s all that encourage-your-country’s-production thing. The soaps have a great refreshing feeling – they don’t leave gross residue and the smells are light – like you just got plucked from a clothesline. They have soaps of different scents and sizes, forms and combinations. Laurel and olive oil, all olive oil, honey, green mint, yellow musk, gardenia, rose, tarboushes, slippers, characters, worry beads of soap, body butter, sprays…you get the point. Anyway, stock up on some good stuff because who doesn’t love smelling like fresh laundry?

The smell of the shop was intoxicating. Seriously, we were dizzy after leaving. Of course, that can be cured with some falafel at Falafel Akkawi – it’s near the big malls hidden in a side street. Just ask around.

Cut into blocks using a mini plow-blade

Wall of soap! 
Tools used to stamp the soap with the family emblem

Audi Soaps

Round Soaps with Dye

My goodies

Soap Masbaha (Worry Beads)

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