59ºF

Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif "the old souq": From spices to stuffed camels, the Souq Waqif market (which means the "old souq") has just about everything.

Make sure you go with time to stroll as you could spend all morning rummaging the souq's narrow alleyways. Quite popular with tourists and locals alike, it is a great introduction to traditional customs and products.

A walk into the stall of a vendor selling kitchen items will welcome you to the world of large-scale wedding dinner platters and servers.

At several bird centers you will learn about the region's rich history of falcon hunting. Some of the falcons on display can fetch as much as $15,000. Nearby is the Falcon hospital. The first thing you may spot are perches in the waiting room. With a surgery center, top-notch medical treatment options and pharmacy, the investment into the healthcare of falcons helps you appreciate the deep-rooted tradition.

A choice menu option for falcons is raw chicken. Qatar Airways will allow customers on board with their falcons and will even feed them.

At the Souq Waqif is Bismilla Hotel, the oldest hotel in Doha. With just a handful of rooms, it is no longer operating as a hotel but has been beautifully renovated. In fact, the entire souq was brought back to its original glory, featuring traditional construction elements like mud walls and wooden beams when a full top-to-bottom renovation was completed in 2004.

Be sure to visit vendors with delightfully pungent and brightly-colored spices on display. It is a stop for your senses that will have you lingering to take it all in. There you can also find dried fruit and spiced nuts.

Other items you can find at the souq include clothing, jewelry, traditional knick-knacks, rugs, honey from Yemen, Indian handicraft, Islamic artwork and pashminas from Kashmir.

At this open air marketplace many vendor prices are negotiable.

A stop at the Gold Souq is a must if nothing else just to appreciate the market's newly constructed enclosure of marble floors, engraved wooden window accents and large colorful light fixtures that suspend from a ceiling that flood the lobby in natural light.

While the Souq Waqif is open in the morning, it really gets going after 4 p.m. It is home to live performances, seasonal festivals, restaurants, Shisha lounges and free wireless internet. There are dining options and Shisha lounges.

This is a place where locals shop, so be sure to dress conservatively.