Reincarnated in the last decade as the social heart of Doha, Souq Waqif is a wonderful place to explore and an undoubted highlight of the city. There has been a souq on this site for centuries; the Bedu would bring their sheep, goats and wool here to trade for essentials, and the entire market area has been cleverly redeveloped to look like a 19th-century souq, with mud-rendered shops, exposed timber beams and some beautifully restored original Qatari buildings.
With booming prosperity, the advent of vast, air-conditioned shopping malls and Qatar’s rush to embrace the new, Souq Waqif fell into serious decline by the 1990s and much of the souq was destroyed in a fire in 2003. The outcry from Qataris prompted the authorities to undertake a massive rehabilitation program, one that continues to this day. Such has been the success of this venture that the souq keeps growing to accommodate new ‘old alleyways’.
The Lonely Planet
This photograph was taken at around 5 am before the stall holders arrive. All the alleyways are empty and silent, yet there is something about these covered shop fronts that conjures with our imaginations. The associations and potential symbolism of these ‘cloth coverings’ are many; Christo was on to something.