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Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif is a marketplace (souq) in Doha, in the state of Qatar. The souq sells traditional garments, spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It is also home to restaurants and shisha lounges. The original building dates back to the late 19th to early 20th centuries in a traditional Qatari architectural style. It was renovated in 2006.

It is located in the district of Al Souq which is situated in the centre of Doha. As it was a market used for trading activities, the area used to be located immediately adjoining the shore to allow for boats to access it. Although still facing the water, the direct link to the water front for boats is now divided by a major road and the recently completed park.

History of Souq Waqif

The souq, established over a century ago near the dry riverbed of Wadi Musheireb, served as a bustling marketplace where Bedouins and locals engaged in trade, particularly in livestock goods. However, the souq experienced a decline during the prosperous 1990s, and in 2003, it suffered extensive damage in a fire. This incident prompted a government-led restoration effort in 2006, aimed at preserving its architectural and historical significance.

Funding for the restoration project’s initial phase was generously provided by Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah al Thani and his wife Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. As part of the restoration, buildings constructed after the 1950s were demolished, while older structures were carefully refurbished to maintain their authenticity. The restoration efforts were successfully completed in 2008.

To maintain the souq’s traditional ambiance, traditional heating methods are employed, utilizing wood and bamboo imported from various regions of Asia. These methods not only contribute to the preservation of the souq’s heritage but also enhance the overall cultural experience for visitors and patrons alike.

Tourism and attractions

The souq is a prominent tourist destination in Doha, drawing visitors from near and far to experience its vibrant atmosphere and rich cultural offerings.

Each year, in the spring around April, the souq hosts a lively festival featuring theatrical performances, acrobatics, and musical acts. Among the highlights of this festival was an event showcasing WWE wrestlers, known as Souq Waqif Storm, which garnered significant attention and drew large crowds. Due to its success, there have been discussions about the potential for repeating the festival in the future, adding to the excitement and allure of the souq as a premier entertainment venue in Doha.

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