Tribute to History & Culture
ABOUT SOUQ WAQIF
The vibrant Souq Waqif if one of the most atmospheric places to explore in Qatar. Built on an ancient market site, the area remains the social heart of Doha. Centuries ago, Bedouin would bring their sheep, goats and wool here to trade for essentials, and the entire market area has been cleverly redeveloped to look the part of a 19th-century souq, with mud-rendered shops and exposed timber beams, plus some authentic and beautifully restored original Qatari buildings..
With booming prosperity, the advent of vast air-conditioned shopping malls and Qatar's rush to embrace the new, Souq Waqif fell into serious decline by the 1990s, and much of the market was destroyed in a fire in 2003. An outcry from Qataris prompted the authorities to undertake a massive rehabilitation program, one that continues to this day. Such has been the success of this venture that the souq keeps growing to accommodate new ‘old alleyways’.
This is the place to look for national Qatari dress, including the beautifully embroidered bukhnoq (girl’s head covering), spices, perfumes and oud (incense made from agarwood).
Until land was reclaimed along Doha's waterfront in the 1970s, the waters lapped at the entrance to Souq Waqif, where traders were just as likely to arrive by boat as by camel.
The first semi-permanent shops here were built around 250 years ago. Before that, vendors stood and sold their wares from makeshift stalls, as the market often flooded, and it is from this tradition that the souq's name derives: waqif means 'standing' in Arabic.
The Falcon Souq is a highlight, but falconry is not the only traditional Qatari leisure pursuit you can see around the market.