The Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar

About five years ago, I was given the opportunity to visit Doha, Qatar. To this day, it is still one of the most unique and beautiful places I’ve ever been. The people were so kind, the food was beyond delicious, and the sights and smells of the souq waqif are still fresh as ever in my memory.

Doha averages 108ish °F  most days. Because of the heat, people are indoors when the sun is up, either shopping, eating, or even ice skating. The city comes alive after the sun sets, and outdoor restaurants fill up quickly. Walking down the main strip situated between all of the shops and restaurants is where you’ll find one of the sweetest, most pleasant smells filling the air: shisha.

I loved wandering the aisles, unsure what most of the bright colored spices were, but wanting to try them all. I was offered delicious dates and tea around every corner, and men would approach me with scarves, bags, and other trinkets, trying their best to get me to buy them.

I adored the Qatari women I met. Some wore niqabs with only their eyes showing, while most wore traditional hijabs which cover their head and hair. The groups of women wearing black abayas walking together at night with only the lights from the market behind them is quite a remarkable sight to see.

I was taking this photo above of the (now former) Emir of Qatar one evening, and a woman wearing a niqab ran up to me saying, “No photos! No photos!” I apologized over and over until I realized she was joking and only poking fun at me. She put her hand on my shoulder and we laughed and laughed. I must have looked like a deer caught in the headlights. What a relief!

Hummus, falafel, dates, rose pudding, mint lemonade… I was in heaven. The food was always good, and being a vegetarian in Doha was so easy. I only ran into issues once, when the owner of an Afghan restaurant noticed I didn’t order any meat. “Why don’t you eat meat? God will put nothing on this Earth that will hurt you!” I didn’t know what to say, and I was convinced he was going to bring out lamb for me to eat instead of the trio of veggie dishes and pita I ordered, but of course he was only joking, and again, I looked like a fool!

Going through these photos for the first time in years brought me right back to Qatar. It’s a place I don’t think I’ll ever return to, but I’m so glad I got the chance to see it when I did. Have you ever been? Thanks for reading!

By amandaaude@gmail.com

"That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet." - Emily Dickinson

19 Comments

  1. Reply

    Jae

    Interesting! I have four friends in Doha right now, two of which are flight attendants of Qatar Airways for six years (or more). If you flew with them, chances are you met one of them. :)

    1. Reply

      amandaaude@gmail.com

      Nice! Yes, I did fly with them. :) The only business class flight I’ve ever been on, and wowza it was nice! The ladies were all so gorgeous & friendly!

      1. Reply

        Jae

        Ah, it would be so cool if you did fly while they were on-board! :D

  2. Reply

    McKenzie Allyshia

    Every time I read one of your posts I feel like I am in the moment with you — the photos that you share give the best glimpses of what it is like to be there! I love the photos of the colorful foods and spices and I found myself wondering on many occasions what it was. I could not imagine being out during the day in heat like that! Sounds like the evening/night life is filled with fun!

    1. Reply

      amandaaude@gmail.com

      Aw, thank you!! That makes me happy. :)

  3. Reply

    suellyn

    You are my magic carpet friend…always taking me on a beautiful adventure!

  4. Reply

    Jasmin Charlotte

    This is so interesting! I’d love to visit the middle east – Dubai and Doha are both on my list for sometime in the future, it is just such a different culture! x

    1. Reply

      amandaaude@gmail.com

      Yeah, I imagine Dubai is pretty similar to Doha. Very rich and flashy. It was one of the most foreign places I’ve ever been, but also very familiar in a lot of ways. Definitely check it out if you get a chance!

  5. Reply

    Audrey

    Those are amazing photos! What a unique experience! I love how people were so quick to joke with you and poke fun at you- the culture on that side of the world is SO different than ours! Thanks for sharing these pics!

    1. Reply

      amandaaude@gmail.com

      Thank you! Totally, such a different world!

  6. Reply

    Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    Wow! The Souq Waqif looks so vibrant and beautiful! I don’t think that I can even begin to imagine all the different smells and sounds and sights that you would get to experience when you were walking through. All of the food sounds so delicious too! That must have been such an extraordinary and amazing experience!

    1. Reply

      amandaaude@gmail.com

      It totally was! I visited almost every night because it was just the place to be. :)

  7. Reply

    Emily

    Oh my gosh- I am soooo gullible – I would have been fooled the entire time! haha! This was such an interesting and fun read, thanks for sharing :)

    1. Reply

      amandaaude@gmail.com

      Haha yeah it was startling at first! :) Thanks for reading, Emily!

  8. Reply

    Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad

    I’ve never been but it looks like a fascinating place, full of comedians by the sounds of it! I’d have totally been taken in every time. I love the cafe culture that you get in teetotal countries, it’s so much more pleasant than the bar/club scene in London etc. And those souks look like treasure troves!

    1. Reply

      amandaaude@gmail.com

      I agree – this was definitely more my scene. :)

  9. Reply

    Mitzie Mee

    Beautiful photos! I’ve been to Doha a couple of times, but I must admit that I like Dubai better. I enjoyed strolling around Souq Waqif though. Any plans of visiting Dubai someday?

    1. Reply

      amandaaude@gmail.com

      I’d LOVE to visit Dubai!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *