Passing through gate number four, I returned out on the streets after exploring City Souq. The two-story office of an independent Qatari agency was the first building I passed. Five large Qatari flags can be seen displaying in headquarters of Central Municipal Council.
I turned left as soon as I passed Abdullah Bin Jassim Street. Two hundred meters later, I passed a four-story building which became the center of Islamic development in Qatar, namely Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zaid Al Mahmood Islamic Cultural Center. There was a black ontel bicycle leaning in a pole in front of it. Classic, just looked like an atmosphere in Europe.
Then began to see a wide and hot courtyard from a distance, located right at southwest corner of large intersection formed by an intersection of Banks Street and Abdullah Bin Jassim Street. A row of seven three-colored benches was accupied by three middle-aged men who seemed to be enjoying situation.
That Sunday afternoon, Souq Waqif which I visited to from east gate still looked deserted. I walked down corridor after corridor of the market. The floor was dark andesite, the walls weren’t smooth with beige color and at its top was laid whole long wood as a support for roof structure which was deliberately made flat.
I passed merchandise stalls which still closed, I myself didn’t know about type of hidden merchandises. I slightly opened a cover corner and I found the answer….It was spices.
When I arrived at market area which was slightly protruding into the middle, I found a block that sold animals, feed which had been packaged in large plastic uniform sizes, along with their cages. The area for selling animals was no longer covered in roofs, the hot sky was directly visible overhead.
SementarMeanwhile, some old men of simple shop owners were busy in preparing their stalls which have been equipped with refrigerators with well-known beverage brands. I still couldn’t imagine what this shop looked like when it was crowded. I just guessed it was a middle class tavern.
The slip of the sun prevented me from exploring the entire market. I have completed my exploration of eastern part. The western part?….Never mind, there was still time tomorrow. I suddenly created a travel option of my own. Left Souq Waqif soon and wanted to get relax in Doha Corniche until late afternoon. The Pearl Monument was the next destination.
This was the single largest ancient traditional market in all of Qatar. Al Souq was a district which was lucky to have this market. It stood at the end of 18th century on the banks of Wadi Msheireb. Wadi itself refers to dry river paths which only fill with water when it rains heavily. A funny experience related to Wadi was when I visited Qatar’s neighboring country, Bahrain. It was so dry, the wadi there was usually used by residents to play cricket…. Funny wasn’t it.
Three days passed, made me miss Souq Waqif again.
Wednesday morning, I finally couldn’t stem my longing. I now entered it from its west side which looked more elegant because this side was bordered by Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD), a subtitutor city of Mushayrib District whose development was planned in detail.
I agreed….Especially when I heared the jargon that Souq Waqif is home to many restaurants and shisha lounges. That afternoon, I entered its west side to a welcome row of European-style restaurants along open corridors.
This side was a place for Qatari citizens and tourists to just hang out, enjoying coffee and smoking sisha. It was said to be crowded on Thursday nights. As was custom in Middle East region, which made Friday night as the start of their weekend to welcome the next day’s holiday.
Waqif means standing. Because during the pioneering period, not a single stall was built. This was due to the overflow of sea water from Doha coast which inundated the market. Even at the beginning of its establishment, the nomadic Bedouin Arab community and local residents met and transacted in this place. Buyers would come by boat or on camels to get around the inundation and sellers would stand around all day offering their wares.
As you entered the central area, situation of the market became very lively. Now I found an area which selling souvenirs. Watches, fridge magnets, key chains, wallets and other types of souvenirs were widely marketed in this area.
Then out of the market through its south side, I found an area which selling dallah, shisha tubes in various shapes and sizes and various types of handicrafts
Economic development of Qatar which had skyrocketed since discovering oil had a positive impact on this market condition. In 2006. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, renovated Souq Waqif as a world economic and tourism center. It was said that the Emir brought wood and bamboo which imported from several Asian countries for this major renovation activity.
So, what are you waiting for….Let’s go to Qatar….Hihihi.
3 thoughts on “Souq Waqif….Biggest and Oldest”
Enjoyed your tour of Souq Waqif, nicely done sir. Can’t believe it’s been over twenty years since I lived in Doha and wandered these old streets.
Very happy that my article can remind your memories about Qatar.
Be grateful that you have lived in a beautiful city in the past, Sir. Doha is an amazing city.