Souq Waqif, a labyrinthine market near the city’s waterfront, looks deceptively old. The site, whose name means “standing market”, dates back nearly a century, to a time when locals and Bedouins would travel to the area to buy and sell fish, goats and even wool. At that time, this part of the city was the shoreline of the Arabian Gulf, until developers began turning the water’s edge into more land.
Qatar’s most popular marketplace is a haven of activity where one can while away many hours. So we hit the streets and bring to you our guide to the best Souq Waqif has to offer.
Art and crafts
Creativity abounds everywhere you look in Souq Waqif. Your first arty port of call must be the Handicrafts Centre, with its entrance between Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel and Damasca One. Branching off, are small workshops with craftsmen inside demonstrating their age-old skills such as basket weaving, lute making and more. Then take a trip to Souq Waqif Art Centre (Open Sun-Thu 8am-2pm and 4pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-10pm; 4417 6204), a beautiful space with small galleries and studios inside, and rotating exhibitions by local and regional artists, plus classes for kids. It lies inside a renovated, old Qatari house so you can also peer into traditional living spaces of times gone by.
The animal section in Souq Waqif is notoriously cruel, as puppies lay panting for life, colourful chicks scamper around following a dye wash and large animals sleep in tiny cages. Visit the page ‘Help our Animal Souq’ on Facebook to find out more and make your voice heard.