Doha has a well preserved Souq which contains both traditional market sections and more touristy dining and tourist market sections. The Souq is heavily visited by both tourist and locals with the action picking up mostly after dark.
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.
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.
Address: By the Aspire Park
Although Doha is now better known for its skyscrapers and shopping mall so as its cousin Dubai is, it is not difficult to escape the world of glass and steel and enjoy another kind of life in Doha. I don't mean Souk Waqif by this, but just the shops where ordinary Qataris as immigrant workers buy their stuff. That can be a Souk outside of the tourist area (Like Souk Al Najma, fo example) or just some of the smaller shops in the Souks between Souk Waqif and the hotel area in Al Salata (for example Souk Al Jabor). It's really hard to explain how much I enjoyed queueing for my shoarmas (which I took home to eat in my hotel room) and watching the other costumers or just the atmosphere in there. It's just an atmosphere to experience, not to buy!
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
Directions: Between Al Mansoura and Al Arab Street, a little south to the Arch of Swords
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.
Directions: In Doha's Old Town, close to the southern end of the Corniche
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.
The Pearl is a spectacular new development that can be found in the northern edge of Doha. This is sort of a mix between a gated community – there are checkpoints and residential buildings inside the complex, as well as a hotel – and a large, outdoor mall. The mall is located all along the corniche, with occasional sections intended for entertainment. At night, it is not hard to find street performers entertaining groups of children. There are also launches here, and pleasure boats that can take visitors out for evenings on the water. The Pearl is by no means intended to be something for everybody. The stores here are very high end, with Armani, Prada, Gucci and others all staking their claim. There are cigar lounges and an Armani Café. Nevertheless, the views are beautiful, and if you can afford the cost of a meal, there is no reason not to enjoy them for at least one night of your stay in Doha.
Waqif Souq may have been prettied and prepared as the tourist destination for visitors interested in culture, but there is another souq properly known as Doha Souq. In truth, Doha Souq is merely one of a number of grimy, dust-covered shopping complexes that can be found in the centre of the city and that cater much more to the low- or middle-income migrants than to Qataris or tourists. These souqs are just to the east of the Waqif Souq, and they have all the same traits as similar shopping spaces in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain or the UAE. They sell cheap goods imported, largely, from the Sub-Continent and China, and they offer food and services destined for the massive South Asian and Filipino communities.
Jayda Souq is a massive construction that lies to the west of Souq Waqif. It is, I suppose, intended to be an extension of the Souq and another showcase of Qatari traditional culture. As such, it specializes in an aspect of Gulf heritage that is not well known outside of the region: hunting and falconry. The two really are linked, although the rapid depletion of wildlife in the region has led to them forging differing paths. Hunting is still quite popular amongst many wealthier men in the Persian Gulf region, and in the Jaydah Souq you will find many shops that cater to hunter. This is a bit of an oddity, since many Qatari, Saudi and Emirati hunters head to other countries to hunt, and they are not, presumably, allowed to bring their firearms with them. As for falconry, it is such an interesting and beautiful part of the culture that I’ve decided to dedicate a separate tip to it.
Directions: At the west end of Waqif Souq
The Gold Souq at Waqif Souq was fully constructed when I visited the city, but the area around it was still having the last few works completed. Gold souqs are a core part of any Arab marketplace, and they represent a continuing belief in the usefulness of precious metals as a store of value and financial security in the face of uncertain times.
Directions: In Waqif Souq
Waqif souq is the old souq that has been revitalized and restored in the centre of Doha. Unlike in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the Qatari government has sought to preserve and reinforce the traditional souq buildings and mosques as a show of native, feeding a growing cultural tourism industry with examples of the Emir’s successful blend of Gulf Arab tradition with modern and Western art currents. The souq is staffed primarily by South Asians and some Arabs, and it has a blend of both traditional Gulf products and manufactured goods from Asian countries. The idea here is not, by any means, to prop up indigenous industries, but rather to preserve a romantic notion of the way in which Qatar would have been for a brief period after the foundation of Doha at the end of the 18th century and before the advent of gas earnings-fuelled modern developments.
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.
Souk Waqif is one of the must sees in Doha.
This is a very traditional arab souk with no foreign franchices, no big shopping malls, but the real deal with arab architecture and local products at the market.
You should go there in the evening as this is when Souk Waqif comes to life with lot's of people visitng the place to go shopping and to meet friends for a chat and a cup of tea at one of the local tea houses.
If you are looking for some true arab vibe in doha then this is the palce.
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 !!!!
Address: Central Doha