Back in December, as part of my larger Middle East trip, I decided to take a long (1O hour) layover in Doha, Qatar to take advantage of a free city tour offered by Qatar Airways before continuing on to Jordan and the UAE.
I was thoroughly amazed at this unique and incredible city! Growing leaps and bounds before my eyes, it’s certainly the newest and sleekest city I’ve seen yet and has a lot of wealth, much like Dubai. It’s so very new that it also, in many ways, lacks the charm of a better weathered big city such as Tokyo or Shanghai.
The Souq Waqif in Doha is one of the few remaining parts of the city to keep an authentic feel. In a city that’s under tremendous modernization and growth, it’s a nice spot that retains its historic charm. The souq is noted for selling traditional garments, spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs.
With some free time scheduled on my convenient free city tour, I managed to sample some of the local Arabic coffee at the Souq Waqif.
If you’re a Middle East novice like me, you’ve probably never heard of it either. It’s difficult to describe. Sort of like a mix of coffee and lemon tea served in an espresso size cup. Originating in Yemen, there seems to be a wide variety of flavor depending on who’s making it. When I tried “Arabic coffee” a week later in rural Jordan it was dark and thick, like the consistency of a hot chocolate and tasted wildly different (although just as, um, potent). It’s sometimes served like this with a tasty date (another thing I’d never tried but grew to enjoy).
People asked me if I was nervous about visiting Qatar but I had no issues whatsoever though I was only there for less than 24 hours. However, I know some Americans who live there year round without issue so don’t let the media hype put you off visiting!