The Top 6 Souvenirs From Qatar
From modern shopping malls to traditional souqs, Doha is a city which offers a range of shopping venues for you to explore. One of the most popular places to find local products is Souq Waqif, which originally served as a place for Bedouin traders to sell their clothing and animals, but which now sells a wide range of goods in comfortable surroundings. If you're looking for the perfect souvenir of your Middle Eastern experience, here are some ideas to consider that you'll almost certainly find in the souq.
Dates and Other Arabic Sweets
The ideal gift to take home for friends and family, dates are a common gift in the Arab world, especially at Ramadan when they are eaten to mark the end of the fasting period. You'll find fresh dates in the supermarkets, while for a premium product, you may find Bateel dates, originally produced in Saudi Arabia. A selection of traditional Arabic sweets will also be available, with favourites including baklava made with honey, or maamoul which is a kind of date-filled shortbread.
Oud is the Arabic name for agar wood, or the resin obtained from that wood, which produces a rare and expensive fragrance associated with the Middle East. The wood itself is one of the world's most valuable commodities, and grows in Southeast Asia. Local perfumes sold in the souqs will make use of oud, but you can also look at international brands in the big shopping malls as they will also have oud products in their collections.
Before oil and natural gas, one important traditional industry of the Qatar peninsula revolved around pearls. Today on the Corniche in Doha you can see a monument dedicated to Qatar's pearl heritage, so it is only natural to expect that pearls would be an excellent souvenir of the country. However, the industry is now in decline, and many of the pearls sold are imported. Within Souq Waqif you will find one sector which specializes in jewellery, so you will easily find items incorporating pearls.
Whether you drink coffee or not, the brass, steel, or silver Arabic coffee pots you see all over Qatar make a great souvenir. Their significance in the local culture lies in the fact that sharing coffee is a key component of Qatari hospitality. If you are not a coffee drinker, the intricate and ornate design along with the distinctive shape allow the coffee pot to serve as a beautiful ornamental item.
While Pashmina shawls are available all over the world, they are especially popular in the Middle East, and the prices can be very reasonable. The best are imported from India, and are in high demand during the winter months. While the abaya would be the garment to purchase for anyone looking for something more authentically Qatari, the range of shawls on offer in different colours, patterns and designs simply makes Doha a great place to find precisely the Pashmina you're looking for.
Admittedly it's tricky to get a falcon home, but you'll never have a better opportunity to buy one than in Qatar. There is one area adjacent to Souq Waqif dedicated to the sale of the birds, because falconry is very popular among the Qatari elite. However, the cost can run into the thousands of dollars, and that's before considering the matter of training the falcon. Birds sold in Qatar will often come with their own passports which serve to identify the bird and ensure they cannot be taken out of the country without permission.
Whether you choose to buy one of the items on our list, or simply spend some time wandering the souqs until you see something that catches your eye, you'll find good quality and good value for money in Doha -- but be sure to compare prices among different sellers, and don't forget to bargain hard if you want a fair price.