robert azzi

Supersuqs

I think these images and the typography chosen were quite witty reactions to represent the rapid effects of oil production and other growing industries as they started to produce material wealth in the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle-East. The new phenomenon of supermarkets was titled supersuqs:

The trend to supersuqs is encouraged by many of the same factors which permitted supermarkets to edge out the neighborhood grocery store in the U.S. after World War II: a growing impatience with the traditional but time-consuming haggling over each and every item; the convenience of canned, packaged and frozen goods; the lure of bright clean packaging; widespread sales of refrigerators, and—a key factor—the increased ownership of automobiles, which permits shoppers to escape their neighborhoods and carry larger quantities home.

It will be many years before traditional suqs with their bustling crowds, pungent odors and leisurely, spirited bargaining disappear from the Middle East scene. But even though many people are already objecting to the impersonal, sterile anonymity which seems to be an inevitable side effect of the supermarket, supersuqs are on their way.

Photographs by Robert Azzi, S.M. Amin & Sa’id Ghamidi for Saudi Aramco World magazine, March/April 1973.