Located in the Al Souq district of central Doha, Souq Waqif is a traditional-style market that dates back more than 100 years and is thought to be the only one of its kind left in the Gulf. Clothing, spices and Qatari souvenirs are all sold in its colourful stalls, alongside a range of traditional restaurants and shisha lounges.
Souq Waqif is today one of Doha’s most popular tourist attractions, with visitors coming to soak up the lively atmosphere and shop for local souvenirs. It is designed around the main street from where a labyrinth of alleyways radiate, overflowing with textiles, perfume and a large range of domestic pets. A few art galleries are also located within its narrow streets, most of which are clustered in the Souq Waqif Art Centre near the Fish Market. Revolving temporary exhibits are sometimes presented here, including ancient calligraphy, traditional carpets and photography. The 980-seat Al Rayyan Theatre is also located within Souq Waqif, and it is a popular filming location for movies featuring traditional Qatari scenes. Musical events and festivals are occasionally held here, including a spring festival and a WWE wrestling event.
Souq Waqif is located just a short walk from the major waterfront boulevard of Al Corniche where public buses stop. Alternatively, there are plenty of taxis available around the souq, and its narrow alleyways can only be explored on foot.
Souq Waqif was established on the dry riverbed of Wadi Musheireb more than 100 years ago, first serving as a livestock trade hub for locals and nomadic Bedouins. In 2006, the souk was restored to preserve its historic Qatari architecture and traditional heating methods, using wood and bamboo imported from across Asia.