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Doha: A day in Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif, Doha

Yesterday, I went to Qatar to see Noemi and Rachel, both former Dubai-based bloggers, who have now relocated to Doha. Doha is only a short flight away, but I have only been there two times before, and I haven’t seen much of the city during my previous visits.

After arriving in Hamad International Airport, I went outside to take a taxi. For some reason the staff insisted that I took a taxi for people with special needs. They claimed that the fare would be the same as for an ordinary taxi, so I thought “why not?” and stepped inside a big, turquoise vehicle. Turned out that traffic in Qatar is actually worse than in Dubai, so I was happy about my seat inside the special needs monster truck.

After meeting with Noemi in her new and very beautiful apartment, we went for lunch in Souq Waqif, which is an open-air market place with lots of small shops and restaurants. Souq Waqif has been thoroughly re-developed and most of the old buildings have been replaced with new replicas, but it still has this great, traditional feel to it, which makes it a wonderful place to stroll around. Compared to similar venues in Dubai, Souq Waqif felt a lot more local (and a lot less touristy), probably because most of the people at Souq Waqif were in fact locals.

I was wearing a shirt covering my shoulders, and black jeans, but most other females in the souq were completely covered up, with only their eyes visible. One lady came up to us, handing us a leaflet describing what was appropriate to wear, and what wasn’t, including a note saying that dancing and singing in public wasn’t allowed. There was even a phone number, which you could call to report any irregularities.

Even though it might just have been a friendly reminder, we couldn’t help asking ourselves “Are our clothes too revealing?” “Is this turtle-neck shirt too low-cut?” I’m not really sure what to think about that…

We had lunch at a Malaysian restaurant called Sri Kebaya close to one of the entrances of the souq. I’m not very familiar with Malaysian food, so Noemi suggested that we ordered a couple of dishes to share. The restaurant didn’t just serve Malaysian food, but also Indian, Chinese and Thai dishes, so in addition to beef rendang, we also ordered parathas, kung pao chicken and a noodle dish.

While the other dishes were ok, the beef rendang was fabulous, even though I must admit that I didn’t find that green-brownish stew very appealing at first sight. It was slightly sweet and curry-like and the beef was so tender it just fell apart. A wonderful dish together with the fragrant, exotic-tasting coconut rice. It was nice to meet with Noemi and Rachel again, and it was good to see that they are both doing fine in their new home city.

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