28 Jan 2014

Souq Waqif, Doha, Qatar

The rare moments

Seasoned business travellers seldom consider what they might do should one of those rare, non-work-fuelled moments arise during a business trip. After all, there are times when making space to appreciate the basics is challenging enough: how many of us have bolted a meal between appointments and yet not savoured one mouthful? How many of us have glanced wistfully at the bath, dreaming of a lazy soak, then hastily turned to leap into the shower? And so, when those infrequent but truly luxurious moments reveal themselves to us, what do we do? 

The quandary 

If we have not been tasked by loved ones to negotiate the multi-layered shopping malls with a lengthy checklist in hand, we are sometimes secretly drawn to engage in something utterly self-indulgent – perhaps a soothing spa treatment, or a feast of gastronomic delights. And yet, no matter how exceptional the experience and service, we sometimes find there is something lacking. A sense of what can only be described as loneliness can seize us, and so we hurry to the lobby lounges or place ourselves centrally in the dining hubs, our loyal tablets in hand, in the hope of stealing just a little of the ambient mood. Strangers engaged in nearby conversations, staff gliding past with duties to fulfil, phones with their miscellaneous ringtones – they all combine to create a rhythmic and musical masterpiece that sweeps any isolation away. But, as faithful as they are to us, these lavish lobby lounges are not the only sanctuaries we can find.

The solution

In Doha, there is one place that will surely provide a solution to this quandary, namely, Souq Waqif.

At any time of the day, the culturally reflective Souq Waqif is a popular attraction that is bursting with activity – though the night-time sparkle and energy truly uncovers its sense of playfulness. 

The labyrinthine alleyways are lined with charming surprises, friendly faces, vibrant colours and aromas. From traditional handicrafts and hand-made garments to spices, souvenirs, and music – the souq’s offering is both eclectic and captivating. And all the while, traditional artists and folk troupes provide a spirited soundtrack with their live performances. 

Souq Waqif is more than 100 years old, and much effort has gone into its full restoration. And yet, while truly reminiscent of its former glory days, the souq boasts some hidden surprises. As forward thinking as any business in Qatar, Souq Waqif is located in an Ooredoo hotspot, meaning you can stay connected while basking in surrounds that hark back to days gone by. And so, while enjoying the atmosphere of a Shisha Lounge or sipping a sweet refreshment in one of the many alluring cafes as you watch the passing parade of shoppers, the business traveller within us can continue to work.

The streets may not be lined with designer labels or limousines, but Souq Waqif is still very much a luxury experience. It’s just a different type of luxury – one that carries you back to the simple charms of yester-year; one that makes you feel a part of something unique; one that revives you at every turn with its delightful wonders.

By: Alexandra North