DOHA: SOUQ WAFIQ
the visit that started with Katara, my guide Mohamed Ali and
myself headed for the famous Souq Wafiq. Yes, it was my first
visit in 10 years coming to Doha. What can I say, while others
go and and have
fun, some are working!!!
At night, the place is superb I must say. The way the Mosque is
lightened on the plaza gives a eerie feel, and just coming out
of the parking, which walls are covered with lovely old photos
of the Souq and Qatar puts you a bit in a time walk atmosphere….
The Souq Wafiq, “the Standing Market”, because the merchants used to be just standing there, selling
their items, was founded at least a century
ago in proximity of the dry riverbed known as Wadi Musheireb. It
was a gathering place where Bedouins and locals would trade, just standing up, on both sides of the river banks.
2006, the government launched a restoration program with the
purpose of preserving its architectural and historical identity.
Buildings constructed after the 1950s were demolished whereas
older structures were refurbished. The restoration was completed
in 2008, and what were before just open sky alleys are now
closed, allowing a bit of fresh feel when you enter the place.
is one of the main attractions, for kids in particular is the
pet stalls which sell a variety of domestic pets, including
dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles and birds. There is also a separate
area in the Souq reserved for falcon handling.
There is a Mediterranean feel to the restaurant Alley, you could
be in Italy, or Tunisia for example, the way people just sit
outside and enjoy the fresh – tout est relatif – air of the
You have a multitude of restaurants, of all different countries,
style of cuisine, prices, you could basically eat every day in a
different country for a month!
little particularity is that large café and also a nearby carpet
shop, it’s a “charity” one.
I am told there is an old lady on the market, that makes
young ladies with no work or who have been stricken by bad luck
or just life have got a job and income. I tried and did some
research to see if I could learn more about it, but I couldn’t
find anything. Girls are coming from different places, and just
sell their items, or work in the café. Great initiative
interesting to notice, this is apparently, one of the cafés/hotels,
the Bismilla Hotel, built in the 1960s and is today one
of the oldest in Doha.
Nestled in a small building at the corner of the street it is a
charming low budget accommodation meters away from the Souq. It
has - wait for it - 6 rooms only! A great place to stay for
budget travelers perfectly located! I think Mohamed Ali told me
it was Portuguese initially, but I could be wrong, he told me a
loooooot of things...
course, you have all the little shops, with everything
you can think of!
vases, carpets, shoes, food, dry fruits and other great items
I’ve got to stay away from, not to mention a few perfume shops,
one apparently extremely expensive one – from Saudi. Love my
perfumes, you know…
of course, for the ladies, beautiful old style and new style
fabric – the fashion in Qatar has evolved, and some of the young
ladies wouldn’t been seen dead
in the good old bright
colours/older design of the old days.
And one of my other weaknesses, the dresses, abayas, and all the
different capes I just love soooo much! The prices are not too
expensive – compared to Kuwait for example – and the cut/design
are lovely, but I had to “walk away from the stall
now, Fram, just
walk away”… Times are not easy at the moment, really can’t go
mad on clothes… Oh well, things will get better Inshallah…
To finish the visit,
Mohamed Ali took me to
Ras Abu Abbuud Café,
a very little place
that doesn’t look much from
outside, or from inside for that matter,
that you can’t see or won’t notice if you don’t know of its
an Iranian café, very small, where the Shisha is a bit different
I’m told, but which specificity is that a lot of very rich and
very poor people come alike. I’m told the Sheik of Qatar himself
comes here sometimes, to sit to chat with people. Of course, it
could be a rumour but…
Anyway, I had a good time with my guide, we sat in the fresh of
the air con of the place, had a shamshiri tea with plenty of
sugar – sue me – chatted with a gentleman that saw us while we
were browsing in the Market – not that I stand out or anything,
relaxed a bit, listening to quiet music.
I know, basic pleasure. Simple pleasure. Just enjoying the time,
the minute you are living. Without over thinking on or
metaphysic choices. Really peaceful.
That was the calm
before the storm of this week where basically, it’s already the
finals today. I haven’t “touché le sol”, haven’t touched the
ground yet. It just never stopped.
can only thank the Qatar Federation for the work they have been
doing for all those years, the longest tournament on the PSA
with Hong Kong, their President, Mr Ali Bin Ali, of
course, Mr Hisham Algosaibi and his wife Debbie
for their hospitality and warmth, you make it truly special for
us/me, truly, and Mr Alaaeldeen Alouba, who has made our
life so easy this week, yet again.
Hoping to have the privilege to be invited again next year