You're browsing a souq in the Middle East and a stunning carpet catches your eye. It would look very cool in your place back home, wouldn't it? You catch the carpet salesman's eye: "How much you want to pay?" he asks you. What do you say? Do you offer the first price that comes to mind? A price that turns out to be crazily high and makes his day? Or do you hesitate for fear you'll suggest a price so low it might insult him. Of course they rarely do, but you're not to know that. Whatever you say - if you say something - you're about to begin the process of bargaining, a much-loved sport - some would argue an art - in the Middle East, Asia, and parts of Africa. But you hate to haggle, so you contemplate stomping off, and even showing your frustration, and you wonder why he can't just tell you what it's worth. The sales guy won't care, because there'll be other tourists. But you're the one who'll miss out on the gorgeous carpet. So what do you do? Well, consider the advice of these travel bloggers over at Eric's travelblogs.com for starters: Melanie from Intrepid 101 asks: "Do you want to engage with real local people and leave your antiseptic double plastic-wrapped lifestyle behind? If you are an intrepid adventurer, not a sunburned-pink tour bus tourist yearning for their next Big Mac, haggle." The Daily Transit's Ben Hancock argues "Unless you’re scraping or have no access to further cash, there’s rarely a legitimate reason for travelers whose bank accounts are stacked with strong currency to demand they get the same price as locals. Providing you’re not getting wildly ripped off, just count on spending a bit more won, yuan or baht if simply because you can afford it and these people have ends to meet." Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere remind us that "A price is what a willing buyer will pay to a willing seller. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no “correct” or “right” price, or for that matter a “fair” price," and tells us "I have yet to meet anyone who had their feelings hurt during haggling. If anything, they will respect you more for playing the game well." Gary's advice is so true of the Middle East in particular. Whenever I write my 'bargaining 101' boxes in guidebooks to the region, I outline the etiquette followed here in Dubai where I've honed my skills - carpet shopping of course! (Read some of my advice at 10 Reasons to Shop Dubai: the Ultimate Dubai Shopping Guide at Viator.) Whether you choose to play the game or not is up to you. And I have to admit that I'm not always in the mood to haggle either. But when the moment's right, it can be fun, and sometimes the pleasure has nothing to do with securing a bargain, rather it's the social interaction. And, you know what, that's often true for the sales guy too.