If you visit Doha, there’s no chance you won’t see the new West Bay city center. Keep in mind, however, that the “real Qatar” is not just modern skyscrapers, but also traditional parts of the city like Souq Waqif – the classic Arabian shopping market. There you are sure to refresh your negotiating skills.
Souq Waqif is in the historic center of Doha, in the Al Souq district (of course). The market has been in this location since almost the beginning of the 20th century, so it can be considered one of the oldest attractions in Qatar’s capital. In the early years, it was more extended toward the waterfront. This way, traders arriving by boat had better access to the stalls.
It was here almost a century ago that Bedouins traded mainly in livestock. The drastic changes of the city and the increased expansion of Doha, however, left the Souq somewhat forgotten and in decline. At the initiative of the Qatari government, however, it was rebuilt in 2006 and has since served as the vibrant heart of the city.
We were lured to the Souq Waqif by the food. There are some excellent restaurants around the market serving food from a variety of Islamic countries. Besides, if you want to stock up on local spices, tea, sweets, dates, gold and even carpets, don’t forget to plan time to wander through the countless streets of the market (and remember! Negotiate)
For us, walking through the Souq Waqif was like wandering back in time. If we were to imagine a typical fairytale Arab market, it would look just like this. And I think this photo shows a bit of the character of the place.