Thursday, February 11, 2010

Souq Waqif or Souk Wakif or...

First of all, it is really hard to know how to spell things here. If you are spelling challenged, you should move to Arabia. Because they have a totally different alphabet, when they spell things in English, there is no consistency. I don't blame them, but it is hard to look for something when you don't know what the spelling is going to be.

Souq means something like store or market. There are several souq areas around Doha, and they are usually categorized by what types of wares they sell. Souq Waqif is located where the oldest marketplace area once was, which happens to be in the downtown area. They have recently (and are still in the process of) knocked down the old buildings and reconstructed new "old" buildings. They have tried to make it look like what it may have looked like many years ago and give the same feel. I have to say they have done a pretty good job of it.

I have been there several times already, but we took my parents a couple times while they were visiting as well. Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what it is like.

First Glimpse
notice the turqouise Karwa taxis and the traffic cop standing in his umbrella covered stand

Navigating through the maze of alleys
Bags of peanuts, seeds, and other dried grains, nuts, herbs, are stacked along the alleys

Travis checking out some of the local offerings including the sheesha (bottom right)
You can get lost in this place. I still don't know my way around.Mounds of spices
Spices are plentiful and quite inexpensive. There are many different types of curry as well as tumeric, cinnamon, and more. You can smell the spices along with the sent of incense burning through the alleys.
Woven linens of sheep's wool & camel hair

Enjoying some pistachio ice cream as the sun sets
Behind us you can see a tent set up. These are for special social gatherings, usually only men. Someone must have been planning a get together for that evening because the teapots were all set up and ready to start serving shortly.

The animal section

There are cages upon cages of small animals being sold as pets from rabbits to parakeets, kittens to fish. My favorite are the kittens and rabbits dressed up in little dresses. They look absolutely ridiculous.
Not in the same class with the other animals, falcons are sold in a couple of stores here. They range in price from about $1500-$12,000

Wheelbarrows waiting to carry your purchases
The souq is swarming with older men with their wheelbarrows waiting to carry your purchases for you. In this culture, physical labor is looked down upon and the higher your status, the less you do for yourself. you hire people to do the "menial" tasks. It is difficult for me to hand over something seemingly light to someone else to carry it for me, but they can't stand watching me carrying something on my own. very different mindset.

Our wheelbarrow helping us get all our purchases out to the car
The baskets were NOT very heavy, but this guy wouldn't give up trying to carry our stuff for us although we were heading right for the car.

This is just a little of what you can experience at Souq Waqif. There are restaurants which serve a variety of "traditional" foods from different countries in Arabia as well as more Western fare such as Haagen Daaz and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. There are stores selling everything from fabric to huge cauldrons. [I say cauldron because they are something you can prepare food for hundreds in, so "pot" wouldn't exactly be the right word.] There are many many perfume shops (and strong scents emanating from them), jewelry stores, honey, and so much more.


  1. It is crazy how different things are over there. Makes me want to come and visit...

  2. I love your family pictures! It helps me to form a mental picture of what your life must be guys are living such an adventure!

  3. It looks like you guys are having an amazing adventure!

  4. Your blog is one of my favorite, and so are you. Love you. Let's Skype soon.

  5. I will house you if you house me. Let's visit each other :)

  6. It looks like fun! Some of the things you mentioned I would love to be able to get! How great for you guys!

  7. How amazing! What an incredible adventure. Thanks for posting the pictures! You mentioned where you do your grocery shopping, but I'm wondering if you actually eat any of your groceries?! You are so skinny!!! You guys look great. Miss you!

  8. Cool! I want to shop there. I mean, Pikes Place is cool, but not once did someone offer to carry my stuff in a wheelbarrow...