This traditional, open-air market is over a century old, in the heart of a now otherwise ultra-modern city. Souq Waqif translates to “the standing market.”
I spent several days at this market—standing and sitting—with shop owners. It’s about an eight-hour drive from my hometown in Saudi Arabia (or a one-hour flight). In this series, I didn’t focus on the touristy places or mega malls, which exist. One can haggle at Souq Waqif and purchase handcrafted leather sandals, scarves for men and women to protect them from the desert elements, gold, handwoven fishing nets, plastic toys, traditional dishes and everything in between. Qatar is the world’s richest country per capita, but many of the locals still shop in the old souq, where handmade items are sometimes valued more than name-brands manufactured at factories abroad. This is also where locals like to socialize and everyone seems like a big family, where generations meet and work side-by-side. There has been an international interest in the city of Doha, especially with the World Cup fiasco, but do people in the West really know much about how or where the local Qataris shop? This tiny country still has a thriving old-school venue and the locals cherish it.
Jasmine Bager is an NYC-based freelance journo from Saudi Arabia. Follow her on Instagram at @jasminebager.