While in Qatar, I spent a good amount of time in the Souq. It's a really wonderful place and definitely a photographer's haven.
Here's a paragraph I stole from Wikipedia explaining what the Souq is:
"Souq Waqif (Arabic: سوق واقف) is an important souq in Doha, in the state of Qatar. Literally translated to "the standing market," this shopping destination is renowned for selling traditional garments, spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It is also home to dozens of restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world, as well as Shisha lounges. Although this market dates back at least a hundred years, it has been recently restored back to its original glory. It is now considered one of the top tourist destinations within Doha.
Thousands of people from across the region frequent this market to purchase traditional goods such as wool, traditional thobes, jewelry, and perfumes."
My first experience was lunch the day after I arrived. There were a bunch of camels hanging out near the parking lot when we got there. They were in this fenced off area and had ropes around their feet so they couldn't wander off.
I honestly think I've only seen a camel in real life maybe once or twice. They're such strange creatures. I was pretty hyped to see them.
That night, Andrew and I met up with Kent, Nasser, Lobna and Kasia for dinner in the Souq. During the day, the Souq is pretty quiet, but it comes alive at night. The food was delicious and I got my first glance of the liveliness of it all.
It was Kasia's birthday recently, so Lobna and Nasser got her an ice cream cake.
It was really hard to cut into!
After dinner, Andrew and I walked around a little bit. We didn't stay too long since everybody was already packing up and closing their shops by the time we finished dinner, but the weather was great and the quiet was lovely, so I didn't mind. I knew we'd be back!
I wanted to get some gifts to bring home for my friends and family, so Andrew and I went back to the Souq on one of our last nights in Doha and I was finally able to get the photos I was hoping for. :)
I tried to not touch anything at the scarf stands because every time I did, guys would rush up to me and start talking and touching the scarf I had just touched, trying to get me to buy it. I mean, of course, that's the point, but they were so pushy and watched me like a hawk. I wanted to get a scarf for Kendal, so Andrew bargained with the guy (sort of). He pretty much told him what we'd be paying for it, haha. I didn't have the guts to do it! Granted, Andrew just bought a bunch of stuff from the guy at the price he was asking, so I don't think we were pulling his leg too much.
(QR stands for Qatari Rial. 1 Qatari Rial = 0.2746 US Dollars.)
I love this poster of the Emir. He looks so jolly. It was hanging outside one of the shops.
As I was taking the photo, a Qatari woman came up to me and said, "No photographs!" but then she started laughing and said she was only joking. It really scared me for a second, haha.
The man working in this shop was really friendly.
He offered me dates:
After that, we ate some dinner at an Iraqi restaurant, even though that wasn't our initial plan. We were headed to a different place, but the owner kind of stopped us in our tracks because he recognized Andrew. They got to talking and then he pulled out two chairs for us at a table and told us to sit and immediately brought us some bread and water.
I didn't mind, so we stayed. He brought us menus and after we looked over everything and were ready to order, I told him what I wanted and double checked to make sure there wasn't meat in any of the dishes... Mistake! Ha, he really didn't like that I wasn't a meat eater. He was mostly joking about it, but I could sense a hint of seriousness in his tone. I told him that even if I did eat meat right then and there, I'd probably get sick because it's been so long since I had it last. He wasn't buying it.
"Do you believe in God?"
"God puts nothing on this Earth that will make you sick."
I wasn't sure what to say so I just kept half laughing/half apologizing. He would go from being very serious (I thought) to laughing and joking around, so it was hard to tell what he was really thinking. He joked with Andrew and said, "Why do you bring vegetarians here? They bring me no money!" and then he reminded me that we weren't in India.
When he walked away, Andrew mentioned that we should try really hard to finish almost everything on our plates so we don't come off rude. It was finally making sense to me how seriously people take their food there. They just love/want to feed you!
When he brought out our food, he put Andrew's plate of lamb in front of me. I wasn't sure what to do. I sort of looked at Andrew all wide-eyed. I thought for sure he was bringing me lamb to prove I wouldn't get sick. I honestly wouldn't have been surprised if that were the case. I asked for a Coke but he brought me a mint lemonade because he wanted me to have that instead, so I thought the lamb was another thing he'd rather have me eat. But, he was only joking and took the plate away and set it in front of Andrew.
After we were finished stuffing ourselves until we couldn't breathe, he took our plates away and brought out giant bowls of pudding.
I was already so unbelievably full... But, I tried my hardest and ate as much as I could.
After that, he brought out cups of tea. Oofda. It was so nice of him to do that for us, but I wish I was a bottomless pit meat-eater. I really did feel bad!
This is how we felt when we were finished.
I loved the Souq so much and I'm really happy with the gifts I bought while I was there. If I lived in Doha, I'd be there all the time! Next time (I'm hoping there will be a next time!) I want to smoke some Shisha. It was everywhere and smelled so great. I think I even said that in one of the videos I posted. Yum! I love the Qatari lifestyle.