Souq Waqif at the southern end of Doha's Corniche is the city's most famous market and one of the most popular tourist attractions. Here, the atmosphere of a typical souq can be experienced to the fullest over coffee and shisha.
Souq Waqif is the most famous souq (Arab market) in Doha, the capital of Qatar, and is one of our top 10 places to visit in Qatar. The souq is very centrally located near Doha's famous Corniche and just opposite FANAR, the distinctively shaped Islamic cultural centre.
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PICTURES: Souq Waqif in Doha
The souq is a labyrinth of cobblestone alleys, mud walls and wooden beams, and looks as if it has been bustling with trade for centuries. While this is true, the souq's current appearance dates from 2004, when the market was generously renovated and restored to its former glory.
Whereas in the past there were only goats and sheep to buy here, today the Souq Waqif offers just about everything you can imagine, from exotic to everyday.
Tip: Most of the stalls at Souq Waqif open in the morning, but the hustle and bustle is most colourful in the late afternoon from around 4pm.
On the way at Souq Waqif
The atmosphere of the market is the lively bustle so characteristic of souqs. The air is full of Arabic smells, there is the scent of coffee and incense, and at every corner you are confronted with delicacies and souvenirs in which the heart of Qatar beats.
A leisurely stroll through the souq reveals stalls selling handicrafts, spices, nuts, sticky sweet delicacies, fabrics and clothing (the fine pashminas from Indian Kashmir are particularly popular) and even hawks, cats, sea snakes and hamsters. Separate exquisite stables have been built for the horses and camels that can be bought at Souq Waqif.
The souq is particularly famous for its exquisite range of spices from the Arab and Asian regions. In the unbelievably many eateries, you can relax from your walk through the souq, stretch out on a divan, drink coffee, smoke shisha and let the diverse impressions take effect on you. The numerous restaurants offer excellent menus from all over the world.
Tip: There is free wi-fi access at Souq Waqif, so your souq experiences can be shared with the whole world in no time.
Cultural and entertaining events are held in the open-air area of Souq Waqif. Right next to the fish market is an art gallery whose exhibition rooms also have a small shop. Further outside, carpet weavers and weavers can be observed at work.
Just southeast of Souq Waqif, on Ali bin Abdullah Street, is Doha's gold souq. With gold prices rising around the globe, many visitors prefer to take home real gold instead of cash.
The purity of the gold is verified by the government, which is why the gold at the Doha Souq is among the highest quality in the world. From simple bracelets to ostentatious bridal jewellery, you can blow your holiday budget here and buy up to 22 carats.