Visit the Mysterious and Exotic Souq Waqif in Doha Qatar

  February 23, 2017 travel posts 🕑 4 minutes read

So the falcon’s heard the falconer?


An entire hospital – and souq – devoted to falcons.




More spices than McCormick.


More Middle Eastern restaurants than…..the Middle East.


Welcome to the Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar.


Trip to a Real Middle Eastern Market


After enjoying the opulent side of Doha – via the Villaggio Mall and Scrooge McDuck inspired Pearl – I found this market to be a fun change up.


I felt like this was a real, dyed in the wool, authentic Middle Eastern market. I could almost see Indiana Jones winding through narrow alleys with Persian carpets piled up as far as the eye can see. Or, 10 feet high.


Our Uber driver dropped us off by the back entrance. On leaving the car I felt like I had stepped back a few centuries.


Stepping back in time…when Qatari really enjoyed Thai food.


The first thing I noticed were the collection of old skool shops crowded together, being nestled between a hotel and….Thai restaurant. OK. Maybe the Thai restaurant was not present a few centuries ago – but then again, were YOU there to verify this? (didn’t think so) – but the majority of stalls, shops and restaurants were Middle Eastern themed, with a rich collection of spices, garments, handcrafts and yes….falcons….seemingly greeting you at all turns.


The Falcon Souq


I expected Bird Man to walk out of the Falcon Souq at any moment.


I mean, an ENTIRE market/souq is devoted to falcons. Including a falcon hospital – looked superior to some New Jersey hospitals – and falcon supplies and it looked like falcon….well…..a falcon pet store? Hunting shops themed on falconry. Falcons sitting on guy’s hands. Falcons standing on buckets. Falcons standing on signs.


All were tethered – some of these suckers sell for upwards of $20,000 – and all hooded (to keep the birds calm, aka, so they didn’t go bonkers hunting pigeons and tracking all movements in their vicinity) so it made for an interesting scene.


Do they take walk in’s? I want acupuncture.


Again, the Falcon Market was its own market. Incredible. I felt the urge to chase a hare or 2 after cruising through this predatory-inspired souk.


As you can reckon, the Qatari are heavily into the sport of falconry as many men head into the desert for regular demonstrations. Think 1/2 bonding event and 1/2 seeing what these birds can REALLY do.


Note; falcons need passports to travel from country to country – for tracking purposes – and some airlines either do, or do not, devote actual cabin space to falcons. I read of more than one story where a Westerner hopping a Middle Eastern flight sat down next to a man casually holding an enormous bird of prey. And yes, these falcons sometimes fly through the cabin.


And yes, I also read how one Middle Eastern airline flew 15 falcons in first class recently. Only the best for these brilliant birdies.


Winding Alleys


We explored winding, narrow alley ways which connected the multiple smaller market fronts. Once inside the souq walls I was besieged with a steady supply of carpets, spices and traditional clothing. Shop owners bartered with Qatari to find a price point. Men enjoyed their morning tea – or coffee – in front of traditional coffee shops, casually watching the day unfold.



KC and I chowed down on a fine breakfast at the exquisite Village restaurant before the Souq Waqif closed for its daily 12 PM to 4 PM stretch.




Kelli and I spotted a few camels in a holding pen. May have been available for rides at some other time. We saw them chewing cud, sleeping at odd angles and curiously enough, watching pigeons which seemed to be carefully picking through their droppings. (Beggars can’t be choosers; even when dinner rests in over-sized Arkansas Steamers.)


Depositor of Arkansas Steamers.


Tiny Police Car


The genius Qatari police designed this cute little cop car.


Hold back on the toddler cop car jokes; because this clever little vehicle fits perfectly in the narrow, close quarters of the souq. Again, imagine when Indiana Jones was hustling through a Middle Eastern market.  The twists. The turns. All that was missing was a monkey (RIP, Indy Monkey), a plate of poisoned dates and a rotund man with the most charming British accent.


Tyrion Lannister Style.


Anyway, the TCC – Tiny Cop Car – can beautifully navigate the alleys, corners and tightest of spots with alarming ease. Just in case a shop owner runs afoul of the law he ain’t outrunning the Infant Cop Car from Hell (imagine dramatic score in the background).


Your Turn


Have you ever visited the Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar?


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  1. Stuart Phythian says:
    at 5:11 am

    Keep the quirky stories coming Ryan. I miss my time in the Middle East and often think how these everyday events, which I took for granted, you are make into stories like this.

  2. Vinod says:
    at 12:20 pm

    Hello Ryan,

    Well I was also planning a trip to Qatar soon and I guess its really great country. After seeing these pictures I guess I have already started liking the country.

  3. Brian J Dewberry says:
    at 3:18 am

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    in finding your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service.
    Do you have any? Kindly permit me know so that I may just subscribe.

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