a free-market where vendors can say the going market price for their products. The term is often used for the market in any Arab or Muslim city. In modern times, it appears in Western cities, too. It may also be the weekly market in some smaller towns where no tribal conflicts would be allowed.
I remember my first few weeks in Doha, Qatar. Dubbed the richest country in the world, I was actually told by my taxi driver that I only need one week to explore the whole country.
“Nothing much to see or do here, Miss,” the taxi driver said.
“Huh,” I thought.
I proceed to have a short pleasant chat with the driver about life in Qatar and tried to extract as much information as I could about the country I was about to explore for a bit.
Souq Waqif had been one of the first few places I explored when I first arrived in Qatar.
It was quite a bizarre market experience with a lot of beautiful offers.
Well, bizarre for me who had to that point of my visit had never been to any Middle Eastern countries.
Souq Waqif’s history can be traced back to around 250 years ago.
According to The Peninsula, the Arabic word ‘Waqif’ means ‘standing’.
In the olden days, merchants used to sell their items — fish, clothes, spices, wood — standing by the entrance. The name has stuck ever since.
In 2000, the Qatari government began the souq’s restoration, reconstructing the traditional architectural style, emphasizing on the historical importance of market that has been known as one of the local landmarks — building a bridge between the past and the present.
You can find a lot of things in the souq.
There’s something for everyone.
There are amusement rides and lots of space for children to play and run around.
There are also handicraft, heritage jewellery pieces, and an assortment of decorated silver and copper swords and daggers for you to bring home as a souvenir.
You can also find both modern and traditional clothes among the items for sale, along with perfumes, incense, preserved dried fruits and local sweets.
Hungry from all the shopping and sightseeing? No problem.
The souq offers an array of delicacies, both local and international.
Prior to Qatar, I have very little knowledge of Middle Eastern countries.
I still don’t have much, but I do know the culture a bit better now.
This experience has opened a door that leads to a whole new world for me.
I am intrigued.
One week — enough to explore and see what the country has to offer.
I think it’s a great deal.
** Sign up for my newsletter to receive inspiring stories and useful resources for your writing journey. **