Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.
A pedestrian oasis in a city of cars, Souq Waqif is popular amongst Qataris of all ages, from the elderly enjoying traditional games in one of the market’s many cafés to children exploring the Animal Souq, a (somewhat controversial) market containing turtles, rabbits, birds, and many other creatures. In addition to being a hub for local food and culinary treats, the souq has a vast selection of Qatari clothing and fabrics, spices, antiques, perfumes, sweets, rugs, and tourist souvenirs. While enjoying the density and diversity of the market’s antique shops and cafés, visitors in search of lodging, entertainment, or local cuisine can also find a variety of restaurants and boutique hotels in or near the marketplace.
There are many shaded areas throughout the souq to protect shoppers and vendors from the intense midday heat, and the market’s scattered outward-facing cafés allow visitors the opportunity to relax, people watch, and enjoy the bustling social life of the market. A site of cultural expression both ancient and modern, the souq is also a stage for all kinds of public entertainment such as musical events, sword-dancing shows, or weekend carnival rides. Recently, the site has also become home to the Souq Waqif Art Center, which showcases rotating galleries of traditional and contemporary Qatari art. With no shortage of things to do, Souq Waqif is the cultural center of Doha and a rare link to the past for its residents.
Though it was slated for demolition in the mid 2000s due to dilapidation and disrepair, over the last decade, Souq Waqif has undergone a remarkable transformation. (Re)built on the site of a traditional century-old Bedouin marketplace, the revitalized Souq Waqif (“standing market”) now stands as a bastion of tradition in a city that has largely turned the way of modern architecture and commercial development. Recognizing the deep cultural and historical significance of the souq throughout the Muslim world—as a symbol of its longstanding tradition of public commerce—architects and designers developed plans in 2008 to restore the former character of the marketplace.
As part of this process, they rebuilt shops using traditional Qatari building techniques and materials: they replaced sheet metal roofs with time-tested mangrove roofs, they used bamboo poles matted with clay and straw, and they used traditional insulation methods to protect buildings against the sun. Designers and engineers incorporated a number of modern elements into the design as well. They replaced plastic and florescent lights with a modern lighting system that better illuminates the market’s labyrinthine passageways, and they installed concealed air conditioning units in order to protect the buildings against extreme heat. Now a robust market containing a striking combination of traditional and modern elements, Souq Waqif has become one of the most popular destinations in Doha.
*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.