I had heard a lot about Souq Waqif and Vij took me there one evening. Literally Souq Waqif means “the standing market”. This place 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. Thousands of people from across the region frequent this market to purchase traditional goods such as wool, traditional robes, jewellery and perfumes.
The place is just near Doha Corniche and we parked our car in front of Doha Fort. Although this market dates back at least a 100 years, it has been recently restored back to its original glory and we went to see the new Old Souq!
You name it and you have it at Souq. Souq is famous for its dried herbs, spices and perfumes and in some areas the air wafts with the scent of them. We purchased dried fruits at a shop and moved on.
|Spiral Mosque seen from Souq Waqif|
We came across shops where colourful Indian dresses were hanged on the walls. Some shops even had dress material where we could choose the desired piece and tell the tailor to stitch them into beautiful dresses. We saw many Qataris shopping at shops selling the traditional Qatari clothing -- white coloured cloth and red and white checks turban cloth for men and black cloth and abayas for women. Men in white turbans wheel-barrowed goods purchased by customers past us as we made our way through the windy streets.
We came across some shops where antiques, replicas and old photographs of Qatar and its culture were available. Some of those photographs had traders bargaining over piles of pearls, pearl divers hauled up by their handlers, Bedouin nomads in their traditional camps, Bedouin nomads alongside their camels, nomads resting in shade and others. We entered a shop where we also found Indian antique idols, lamps and others. We found tiger nails and Vij couldn’t stop himself from buying one which he wants to wear it as a pendant. Here also, we saw a few men waiting in the pathways with wheelbarrows ready to carry people’s purchases.
Later, we went towards the lane where there were pet shops and the main attraction for us being a shop selling falcons. The falcons perched on wood were with ornate hoods blindering their eyes. Will tell you people later about falconry and how they are considered to be a proud possession. We saw dogs, cats, parrots, rats, fish, turtles, sparrows, parakeets, chicken and other pets. Kids were asking their parents to buy them pets and we saw people bargaining at a few shops.
After a while, we felt tired and entered a traditional restaurant and ordered for chicken shawarma. Lounging on the cushions, we saw some Westerners enjoying their Turkish coffee and Shisha and watched the passersby.
We left the place impressed with loads of purchases. Trust me, Souq Waqif has been revamped with taste and style and is worth a visit.