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!