With only 13 hours in Doha and needing to spend some of that time actually sleeping my options for dinner were somewhat limited. Fortunately I had a number of suggestions for dinner and, as an added bonus, a couple readers who were in town and willing to hang out. With so little time and looking to maximize my tourist exposure we headed directly for the Souk, the center of the public nightlife in town.
My first thought as we navigated into the market, was that it was way too clean. It had something of a Disney feel to it, with everything so clean and in place, but still trying to look authentic. There were a few western chain restaurants mixed in with the local options but it mostly was the local stuff. Still, it didn’t have the same sort of feel as the markets in Turkey or Tunisia, for example. Turns out there is a good reason for that. The Souk in Doha is relatively new. There are bits of the old market still there but the main drag is recent construction. That makes it quite a bit easier to navigate.
We ended up at a Moroccan restaurant, Tajine, and sat outside for dinner, one flight up from the hustle and bustle of the main market area. We sat outside, in the “cool” evening air, enjoying tagine, tea and watching most everyone else there puffing away on hookahs.
The food was pretty good and the company was great. Having normal (at least as “normal” as talking points and miles for a couple hours can be) conversations over a meal was great and getting to experience a bit of the local scene was most welcome. I won’t pretend that I’ve really had a Doha experience, but given my timing I think I did pretty well for myself.
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You saw pretty much everything there is to see in Doha. The whole city is fake and has less culture than anywhere else I’ve been.
Concur with Kyle. Even the Souq is fake, it was built for tourists. Not much interesting stuff for sale here- locals mostly send the help here to purchase household items.
Been to the Souk around ten times. Food is below average and it feels like the locals look down on Westerners. The Pearl shopping area is cool the first time you go, especially if you eat at a restaurant facing out towards the yachts.
Benji, sorry you had to go 10 times! I’ve been 2, and that’s 1 time too many for me. I don’t know how Doha is going to host the world cup.
Seth, did the airline arrange for a transit visa or did you have to get one directly? Unlike the UAE, I believe US nationals need a visa, correct?
I got a visa on arrival in Doha. The agent started to flip through my passport and I stopped her, explaining that I wanted to do visa-on-arrival. I handed her my Visa CC and 100 QARs later (~$28) I was stamped in and through immigration.
The visa is easy to obtain upon arrival (just pay with CC). You’ll only need it if you’re entering the country – no visa needed if you’re just transiting.
I visited recently for a couple of days and had mixed feelings. It was interesting to see it, but I’m not sure if I’d visit again soon. The museum of Islamic Art was interesting, and also visited Katara and Souq Waqif. Other than that the entire city feels like a giant construction site and getting around is a pain due to lack of good public transportation.
I dunno. I disagree with the above that disliked Souq Wahif. People don’t always go to Disneyland looking for an authentic experience. Souq Wahif is a touristy area and does cater to tourists, but it’s a wonderful place to spend an evening if you find yourself in Doha and want to get away from your cookie cutter hotel. I personally find it a great place to hang out, and I know that I’m not getting a totally authentic experience – but it suits me just fine.
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