Hajj Zabala: The Most Popular Juice Store In Baghdad

Hajj Zabala Juice shop

Hajj Zabala is a shop in Baghdad specialised in the production of fresh grape and is renowned as one of the city’s most iconic commercial establishments. It has a strong historical charm, despite its contemporary popularity, maintaining its traditional Baghdadi style and loyal customer base despite the various challenges that have confronted the nation.

The grandson of the shop’s founder, Hajj Zabala

On the walls of the store, we can see a myriad of black and white pictures,  among which ia a picture of the founder of the shop, Hajj Zabala, who bears his name. The interior of the seemingly small shop remains authentic to the family’s taste in decoration with colourful decorative tiles juxtaposing the vintage monochrome photos.

The decorated walls inside the shop

Established towards the end of the Ottoman era in 1900, the shop initially operated in the Al-Karkh area. However, in 1912, it relocated to its current position near prominent landmarks such as the Old Government Palace, the Ministry of Defense, the Qushla Clock, and Al-Maidan Square, all at the entrance of the historic Al-Rashid Street. The relocation seems to have been a good move as many visiting Baghdad make it a point to have  the famous grape juice. 

Customers inside the shop

The price of grape juice at the time was a “biyara” Ottoman coin, recounts the founder’s grandson, as there was no Iraqi government yet, and the poor would rush to the shop with their bread loaves to eat with a cup of grape juice. We would place the bread in a basket and cover it with a piece of raw cloth to keep it fresh until the bread seller brought it to us. Afterwards, they moved to the book market or the Saray market, which is currently Al-Mutanabbi Street, and remained there for four years.

Customers purchasing juice

There were no advertisements at that time, so one of the employees would call out, “My grape juice, Hajj Zabala’s grape juice, and may Allah never disappoint!” People would then rush to get their refreshments, upon hearing the call. Interestingly even to this day Hajj Zabala does not need to worry about advertisement, as it remained a prominent location until now, mainly through word of mouth.

Hajj Zabala information poster
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