A Quick Visit to Doha, Qatar

The new modern city, seen from the old city, Doha, Qatar

The tourist visa for Abu Dhabi is only for 30 days, and mine was about to expire, but we needed more time there so that we could meet up with our granddaughter, when she returned from boarding school. We chose Doha for our visa run, as we hadn’t been there before.

Since gaining independence in 1971, Doha has transformed itself from a sleepy pearl fishing village, into a city of nearly 600,000 people. And it is still growing and developing, as we discovered when we looked over our hotel balcony.

Our room with a view

Although the view wasn’t great, the hotel was in the centre of the old city, and within walking distance of most attractions. Souq Waqif was quite close, although we had to dice with the traffic where there were no sidewalks, due to the reconstruction going on.

Souq Waqif is a warren of little shops

On first sight, Souq Waqif is rather reminiscent of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, but on closer inspection we found many of the shops held goods for local consumption. This was born out by the fact that we encountered many locals doing their daily shop in the souq.

We did, however see other reminders of Istanbul, 
like these ice cream sellers…

…and this restaurant

Not all of Souq Waqif is given over to household commodities and luxury goods. A large part of the souq is dedicated to falcons. Falconry is an ancient tradition in this part of the world, and is still popular today.

There are numerous rooms full of hooded birds lined up for sale, like these

The outer buildings of the souq look very old, 
but they were rebuilt to look like the original

Another great shopping and restaurant area,
with the Central Mosque at the end

The Central Mosque has an easier climb to the top for the muezzin
than is found in most mosques…

…unlike the more traditional Grand Mosque

Unusually for this part of the world, dark clouds were gathering the whole time we were there. It culminated in a massive downpour, which, judging from the lack of preparation, came as a surprise to everyone.

As the rain bucketed down, everyone ran for shelter

The streets gradually filled with water through lack of drainage

We sat under an archway just across from this restaurant, but didn’t dare venture out to get wet. Eventually the rain began to ease, and men opened up the manhole covers to let the water drain away, and we managed to get over to a well-deserved lunch. Delicious it was too!

Elizabeth Coughlan

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