The Souq Waqif is Doha's traditional open-air market place. Its history dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when it was a weekend market where the bedouins traded their goods. In 2004 the current market has just been restored with traditional Qatari architectural elements to its former glory.
The place consists of a labyrinth of narrow cobbled alleyways and squares. The products on offer range from dried fruits, spices and nuts to all sorts of traditional handicrafts, clothing and souvenirs. The Souq Waqif is also home to many restaurants and cafes, which serve both Arab and international dishes.
The Souq Waqif is situated near Doha's former fishing harbour. It can be found behind the Al Corniche Street, just between the Grand Hamad Street and the Kasim Bin Mohammed Street.
Doha's skyline looks like it was designed by architects who didn't talk to each other, didn't like each other, and engaged in experiments they could never get away with at home. And a Qatari can live anywhere without ever leaving home.
A virtual Venice is around the corner. Rodeo Drive is down the block. And there are world-class restaurants in the ancient Arab souk, which was built some years ago.
Once I got out of the airport I decided to visit the old souq and a modern shopping mall. It was 2 pm so the most of souqs shops were closed so I asked the taxi driver to take me to a good mall. He said Villaggio was the best mall in Doha and, after visiting it, I have no reason to doubt about that. It's a huge mall built like a sort of small Venice and you can even have a tour on a small gondola.
A place that is sure very worth going is the Souq Waqif, the reonovated Arabic market quarter. You can easily spend here a few hours, wandering through the small corridors or just sitting eating something or smoking a sheesha. It's organised more or less by what is sold, so you have the species area, the clothes area and so on.From there the promenade is not far, so you can take the chance of having a walk there.
Souq Wakif is the most charming place in Doha - it's old and modern Doha at the same time... in the sense that this beautiful place is yes, an old souq - which looks old - but it's not. Here's the logic: there was a beautiful old souq in desparate need of renovation (it was really crumbling down) - for some reasons the authorities decided to knock it down... and then they rebuilt it, exactly as it used to be. Old souq? New souq?
The souq is especially suggestive at night, with its dim lights, its narrow and maze-like pathways, its covered parts. There's plenty of things to buy, from spices to carpets, fabrics, incense, abayas... what's really does not belong is the men with wheelbarrows - not carrying good to the shops, but carrying people's shopping to their car.
Even if you are not planning on shopping you should come to this souq - and here's two good reasons: the Souq Waqif Art Center, for some serious exhibitions on calligraphy and photography - and the restaurant area, with its many delicious restaurants and sweet smells of narghileh.
Finding the Souq Waqif has been one of the highlights of my visits to Doha. It's basically the old style Souqs, restored to their original beauty.
A few years ago, these souqs were decaying and had become quite cheesy, with plenty of neon signs and aluminum doorframes. At this time, a facelift is nearly complete. Metal is replaced with wood, and age-old building methods are being used to construct new extrernal walls from rough stone, and ceilings from palm leaves, bamboo and rope, all to create a rustic look that would have prevailed 100 years ago.
The most traditional of the souqs, it is a maze of narrow alleyways filled with small shops, with goods piled high to the ceilings and spilling out onto the pavement covering a wide area, and with separate sections selling perfumes and traditional forms of Qatari national dress, luggage, tools, general hardware and gardening equipment, kitchenware, spices, incense, sweets, rice, nuts, dried fruits and falcons. yes, falcons!
Built in the 1880's during the reign of Sheik Abdullah bin Qassim al-Thani and later as a fort during Turkish occupation, the fort now stands in the middle of one of the shopping districts downtown. The 19th century extrior is fitted with turret and small watch tower in a slightly Moorish style. The exterior has some traditional designs in the plaster/gypsum that covers the exterior and the door is also uniquely carved. The fort is closed on Saturdays and is usually open by 9am, with no entrance fee.
UPDATE: They have decided to move the front door to the back. I guess the view is better back there. There is quite a bit of construction going on at the moment and there is no telling when it will open back up again. But at least it still stands in its original spot.
VILLAGIO MALL: I visited Villaggio last year twice while in Doha and had the opportunity to visit it again on this last trip. I happened to be by the Aspire Zone and this is actually where it is located. I can say it is a Mall that has it all and I believe it has set the benchmark in Qatar for retail shopping.
As you enter you have a feeling of walking in the streets of Venice. It is a unique concept of Venetian shopping experience complete with gondolas and balcony interior settings. It also offers the best in entertainment and international retail brands, including themed retail areas, cinemas, an ice rink and a fashionable line of restaurants for a perfect gastronomic experience.
HOTELS IN THE AREA: We were spending 5 nights out here this time staying at the Grand Heritage Doha Hotel and Spa which is opposite the Aspire Park, and the Torch Doha as well. I highly recommend both. They are totally different hotels in character but I love both because each is unique in its kind. I recommend that if you happen to visit Doha, stay in both only to experience the uniqueness what each hotel has to offer.
The Mall is connected to the Torch Doha through an air-conditioned walkway for a most convenient access to and from the hotel for its guests.
THE AL-JAZEERA PERFUME STORE: During my daily strolls out here I came across a significant perfume brand of the Asian world. I stopped to take a photo or two as the interior was so inviting and finally found myself inside probably because I could not resist. The interior décor is luxurious, the perfume fragrant smell, the presentation and gift package impressed me. Soon, the Co. is applying a plan of spreading in order to be in all Gulf countries and also in the biggest oriental and western capitals. If you happen to pass by, do drop inside and experience the world of perfumes! They are unique and extremely distinguished and popular from Gulf people.
Watching movie at City Centre - When we went to City Centre noon time, Almost all the shops and boutiques are closed. We saw that "Superman Returns" is one of the movies on the list.
This is my first time watching movie in Doha. The price of ticket is QR30. The cinema itself is small but because the film is shown in two theatre, the room was not filled. The sound system is excellent (maybe a Dolby system???). Seats are also comfortable.
It's pretty much impossible to avoid this place, an immense, powerfully air-conditioned monument to Western chain store shopping. The mall is huge, everything's very new and shiny, there's an ice rink, you can get your car washed while you shop, but when all is said and done it is a shopping mall!
A market dating at least a century back, recently been restored to its original glory. A spot not to be missed.
Souk will travel you to another era. Thousands of people frequent this market to purchase mostly traditional goods, spices, perfumes, wool products and end out at one of the beautiful restaurants and café bars. Lately it has become a hotspot for art galleries & workshops as well. I did have the opportunity to visit a few during my stay.
One of the days we were staying at the Four Seasons hotel I had the opportunity to be driven out here for photos, and walked throughout the market.
I can tell I was not impressed by the gold souk….probably because I don’t like gold myself. The shops here are mostly small and they were not that inviting for gold purchasing….not to mention that I prefer to spend my money otherwise….like most of you out here on travelling for example!
TIP: While visiting the souqs in Qatar always bargain with the shopkeepers which are part of the tradition. Always offer a much lower price to the original offer and slowly work upwards until you feel the price is right.
Doha's Souk Waqif is evolving into a popular tourist attraction. The whole area is in progress of being rebuilt in 19th century style to attract even more tourists. Right now, it is a mixture of this fake old Arab style and rather ugly buildings from the mid-20th century. The Souk is slowly regaining its own charme, but this is challenged with every new part added to Souk Waqif and every tourist-targeting restaurant integrated in it. The wooden beams which are visible from outside look nice. However, they have become a favourite with the pigeons and depending on the time of the day, they seek shadow while sitting on those beams. That also means, that there are areas full of bird crap.....
Most shops on the souk are tourist-targeted (souvenirs, cafés, restaurants) or sell goods of daily use (food, household items). However, there are a couple of nice exceptions. The bird market is quite interesting, although some of the birdkeeping methods don't cope with western standards - including dying young chicks in bright colours. The antiquities shops however have sometimes interesting items, including a lot of stuff from the British protectorate era.
The Old Souq had its origins as a weekend market and was used by the Bedhouin when they came to town to trade their meat, wool, weaving and milk for staple goods.
Now, you can find spices, coffee, souvenirs and household goods and enjoy a meal at the many restaurants there.
The area has been renovated to give it an ancient feel with its maze of alleyways and porters wheeling peoples' goods around in carpet covered wheelbarrows.
The souq was my favourite thing to do in Doha.
Lonely Planet recommends this place to go for second hand items and that was the reason why I went there. Unfortunately, I didn't find a big choice of such items beside a hand full of shops selling second hand furniture. If you are looking for smaller antiquities, you might go to specialised shops or to one of the antiquities shop at Souk Waqif.
Al Najma Souq however has a big advantage. This is a place which is focused on the need of locals and immigrant workers. You could consider it tourist-free zone. Most of the goods on sale are hosehold items and furtnitures, but there are places selling groceries as well. Here you see the stuff Doha citizens buy at the respective prizes. A good off the beaten path – experience, if you like such kind of markets. I even got new trousers in here! Al Najma Souq comes to life late in the afternoon and is busy even well after darkness sets in
Souq Warif is an important souq in Doha, in the state of Qatar. Literally translated to "the standing market," this shopping destination is renowned for selling traditional garments, spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It is also home to dozens of restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world, as well as Shisha lounges. Although this market dates back at least a hundred years, it has been recently restored back to its original glory. It is now considered one of the top tourist destinations within Doha.
Thousands of people from across the region frequent this market to purchase traditional goods such as wool, traditional thobes, jewelry, and perfumes.
Lately Souq Wakif became a hotspot for art galleries and workshops, hosting several art galleries and events. It also hosts local concerts during the holiday seasons.
Spent about 2 hours here and had a great time ....
Make sure to bargain on everything !!!!