Qatar’s second Souq Waqif stands in Al Wakra and is becoming a top destination for residents and tourists alike.
Souq Al Wakra, also known as Souq Waqif, Al Wakra or Heritage Village, officially opened on Al Wakra seafront in late 2014.
Following Doha, Al Wakra is the second largest city in Qatar. Located in eastern Qatar, just south of Doha, the city is believed to have a history of its own, independent from that of the capital.
In the charming, ancient city of Al Wakra is an enchanting, thriving souq that is well worth a visit for anyone interested in Qatari heritage and culture, and seeing Qatar outside of the bright lights of its capital city. Al Wakra’s own thriving market – Souq Al Wakra – is full of popular restaurants and coffee shops. The souq stretches for approximately 3 km along the town’s coast, with a corniche for people to walk along. The souq is divided into 10 zones of markets, restaurants, shops, stables, and a kids playground, as well as parking and the Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar.
Setting off southward from Doha, stop for a visit at Souq Al Wakra with its maze of courtyards and alleyways, leading to a promenade of traditional shops and authentic restaurants. The souq’s beach is its charm. There is much to see and do here.
Inside the souq
The souq or Heritage Village is designed to resemble old Qatari homes and villages. The alleyways take you to individual ‘homes’ that are developing into designated markets:
- Women’s Accessories and Perfumes
- Men’s Accessories • Perfumes • Nuts
- Flowers and Sweets • Gold • Honey • Cheese
- Fish • Birds • Swords • Souvenirs • Carpets • Handicrafts • Hawks/Falcons • Wood and more.
Relax and soak up the vitality and atmosphere at one of its eclectic mix of great restaurants and cafés which offer traditional Qatari food. The souq is known to be home to many new local restaurants and coffee shops with modern twists such as Arnag, E’asair Cafe, Al Baranda, Nineties Cafe, Al Noukhaza Restaurant and more. Restaurants serving dishes from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and Asia are also on offer. Popular dining options are Al Aker Sweets (Arabic), Royal Tandoor (Indian) and Bennigan’s (American) to name a few. For a lighter choice, there are also cafés serving only sweets or snacks or just plain coffee. Try Gharissa for local ice cream or dessert.
Souq Al Wakra Beach
Souq Al Wakra stands out with its promenade, allowing visitors easy access to the beach. When it first opened in mid-2017, the beach was open and free to all for use. Now, the beach charges for certain water activities on the beach. The beach is a ‘family beach’ so keep in mind the conservative culture of Qatar. Swimsuits are required to access the water, and changing rooms are available for both men and women.
Collect memories of Qatar with Arab male and female salt and pepper shakers or cups, fridge magnets, shisha bottles, intricately designed plates, lanterns, keychains, mugs and more. Dhow boat miniatures can be tricky to carry when travelling but nice to have for a souvenir. Other souvenirs include traditional Arab dallah (coffee pots) as well as brass-studded wooden chests in many sizes. Woven items include bedouin weaving, traditional floor cushions, kilims and carpets as well as colourful baskets. Silver jewellery, misbah (prayer beads) and traditional gypsum carvings make attractive mementoes.
Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar
Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar has an idyllic setting, woven into the fabric of the souq on the shores of the Arabian Gulf. The hotel comprises two buildings with a total of 101 guest rooms. Both buildings are former heritage houses, which have been preserved with the architecture mirroring a traditional Qatari house.
In keeping with local heritage, each of the guest rooms and suites features classic thatched roofs, reflecting traditional basket weaving elements. The guest rooms have been designed with colourful motifs reflecting the jubilant blues of the sea and the sandy tones of the desert, inspired by Al Wakra’s history as a pearl diving and fishing village.
Open walkways and maze-like paths lead to courtyards where multiple guest rooms can be blocked off to create private areas for groups. Large groups will be able to stay together in guest rooms grouped around shaded majlis, perfect for celebrations or family gatherings.
Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar has five restaurants and lounges. Jarnen offers Mediterranean all-day dining with fresh seafood sourced daily from the Al Wakra Market and barbeque grilled to order at live cooking stations. Markhan, an Arabic fusion lounge, offers the ideal place to enjoy the sunset from the terrace overlooking the gulf. Emshoot invites guests to discover the culinary delights of Asia’s diverse flavours with dishes ranging from sushi to tandoori kebabs. Serving a selection of light international dishes, guests can dine upstairs and embrace the sights and sounds of the nearby souq at Mahaadeg’s terrace. Guests can grab a quick bite for breakfast or an afternoon snack at the Lobby Lounge. In addition, majlis are situated across the property offering an authentic Bedouin-style evening of live barbecue and other social gatherings.
Tivoli Spa offers separate treatment rooms for men and women as well as a hydro pool, steam room, Vichy Shower and Jacuzzi. A multi-functional gym in each building is also available for guests.
The hotel is only a 15-minute drive to Hamad International Airport (HIA). It also has direct access to the adjacent Al Wakra Family Beach.
For more information, visit tivolihotels.com
Parking at Souq Al Wakra is ample, right off Al Wakra Main Street as you access the souq. The extensive parking is still free at the moment. Convenient golf carts are available in the evenings to take you from the parking lot to your destination.
Access to cash is available at the Doha Bank ATM.
Opening times: Most shops operate 10 am – noon and reopen 4 pm – 10 pm. On Fridays, stores will close for the afternoon prayers. However, only a few shops and restaurants are open during the day so it’s best to plan your visit to the souq after 4 pm.