Far away in Qatar’s capital city, Doha, sits a Rajasthani man singing Hindi songs, making lac kadas or thick bangles for little girls and women who crowd around him. Priced at 40 to 60 Qatari riyals (approximately Rupees 660 to Rupees 990), Mohamed Aslam’s custom-made lac kadas adorn the wrists of women who come from every part of the globe. Aslam, who resembles Aladdin’s genie in his glittering turban and gleaming kurta-pyjama, sells his bangles at Souk Waqif, a 100-year old street market that attracts hundreds of tourists with its Arabian ambience, art workshops, spices, souvenirs and fragrant Arabic Oudh.
Located between Musherib Street and Al Rayyan Road, Souk Waqif – The Standing Market – is one of the most popular tourist spots in Doha. Besides trinkets and gold, the market has many multi-cuisine restaurants that offer shisha lounges and is home to a diverse crowd of travellers. There are small shops selling an array of spices, nuts and dates. Souk Waqif is within walking distance from Doha Corniche, a waterfront promenade that stretches several kilometres along the Doha Bay.
The Corniche is popular with joggers and families with young children. Several dhows (traditional Qatari sailing boats) operate from the Corniche to offer tourists an impressive view of the Doha Bay.
Across the Corniche lies The Musuem of Islamic Art, which exhibits a variety of stunning art collections spanning three continents and thirteen centuries. Major pieces include Islamic calligraphy that goes back hundreds of years, carpet with animal design from Turkey (1100-1300), perfume flask of gold from Syria or Iran (11th or 12th century), and a dagger from 18th century India.
Modern buildings, swanky malls and a grand skyline that’s still growing highlight the monarchy’s stride towards greater financial and cultural development. The city does brim with optimism and hope, like Aslam’s bangles.
Other things to do:
Visit the National Museum of Qatar and Katara cultural villageStroll within Villagio mall, which is loved by the locals for its Venetian-themed interiors and indoor theme park.
Dune-bashing in desert safaris is popular in Doha.
Do respect Qatari culture and norms. Though the locals do not mind seeing women in western dresses, skimpy attire may not be tolerated.
(There are several flights from Mumbai to Doha. Doha is about three hours and fifteen minutes from Mumbai)