Traditional markets in Qatar are known as Souqs. Souq Waqif is the most popular souqs in Qatar. It is an open-air market with shisha cafes, food restaurants and traditional stores selling clothes and traditional spices. Being in Souq Waqif is like being in a motion picture of a Hollywood film. Everything seems so exotic and out of the world, fascinating and wonderful.
What’s Souq Waqif
This place is bustling with people almost at all times of the day. In the morning, the shops are open for shoppers. They open a little later during summer because the heat can go over 40 degrees Celsius. There are also boutique hotels in that area where you can rest for the night.
Being in the Gulf Region, you can find restaurants of the different cuisines and pair them with a nice shisha. Sometimes, there are also live performances and traditional folk dances that highlight the culture of Qatar.
Souq Waqif is Great For
It is a great place for shopping, for dining and to chill with friends. You get to have a good glimpse of Qatari culture and you do not have to travel that far. Sometimes, you might even see the stables for horses and camels. The Qatari police patrol the area in the morning on camels. Seeing the British police in their horses around Hyde Park was a culture shock, so imagine me seeing Qatari police on the camels. Like I said, it’s out of the world!
How to Spend An Afternoon in Souq Waqif
It’s a lovely place to walk around and soak in the rich Arabian culture. If you are meeting a friend or just spending the afternoon being lazy, I recommend you to stroll the old markets to buy some Middle Eastern dates. Then head to a shisha cafe for some shisha and local tea. Pair that with your delicious date, and you get a great afternoon. Oh, and people watch. That’s always fun.
Experience in Souq Waqif
I was there with Renwick and his Qatari friend. We reached Souq Waqif at night, and I thought everything might be closed. Turns out, the night only just began. We walked around the Souq and I was deeply enchanted by the beautiful architecture. It feels nothing like I’ve ever seen!
People were all dressed in their national costumes and Renwick was explaining to me that the different traditional dresses show that the people are from different areas in the Gulf Region. For example, if there is a pocket on the dress specifically with a pen inside, he is a Qatari. A checked headpiece would mean that he is from Saudi. Find out more about their differences at beingarab.com.
Everyone was smoking shisha there, which was something rather new. You see, Singapore bans the smoking of shisha. So, they immediately took me to try shisha. We had some tea to go with it. It was definitely an experience like no other.
Almost everyone drives there. There isn’t any public transportation except for cabs. Simply hail a cab/uber from the airport and tell them to take you to Souq Waqif. The Souq is between Al-Souq Street and Grand Hamad Street. It is about 10-15minutes from the airport. The cab would be about $10 USD.
Name: Souq Waqif
Address: Bounded by Al-Souq St & Grand Hamad Street, Doha, Qatar
Opening Hours: 10am-12pm, 4-10pm (or late)
Things there are decently priced, at meals starting from QR 10 ($2.80 USD). It is a great place to shisha, have a meal, hang out with your friends and people watch. When you are there, do try their Qatari machboos, habba hamra, shisha and tea.
- Avoid going there on Fridays as Fridays are prayer days and they close earlier.
- July is the hottest period, so some shops may be closed during the hot times. Do visit them at night instead, where they may open for longer hours.
- The Islamic Cultural Center is also just nearby, and you can visit when you have time.
- Check out other landmarks of Qatar to visit.
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