Reminiscent of the marketplace in Aladdin, souq Waqif is one of the most popular and well known souqs in Doha, Qatar. Its grand architecture and lively spirit make it a favourite amongst tourists, who are often found wandering the stalls and buying local goods. Even those not looking to spend money are more than willing to spend hours at Waqif to experience the culture.
Although the entire area seems recently developed, the souq dates back to the 1900s, and has since experienced a multitude of events. A fire in 2003 engendered a severe decline in activity within the once prosperous region, but a government initiated restorative program brought the market back to its former status. Now, souq Waqif is a highly reputable centre of shopping and dining for both locals and tourists alike.
Whilst a large part of visiting the souq consists of bargaining for and buying souvenirs, simply wandering around the area is an amazing experience. The market culture is incredible! Every store boasts its own specialty, from incense and wood figurines, to clothing and local delicacies. There are even street performers on every corner and shops that display breeds of exotic animals. Furthermore, boutique hotels and restaurants are scattered throughout the market, allowing those who want to optimise their adventures at Waqif to lodge in the souq and get more in touch with the very heart of the market.
I would recommend spending no less than a few hours at the souq. Boredom is not a concern; the market caters to all, so even young children would enjoy this hidden gem! However, I would advise against going alone, as it is easy to get lost between the crowds and endless winding alleys. With that said, if you happen to find yourself in Doha, be sure to pay the Waqif souq a visit!