You’ll find a wealth of exclusive shopping malls offering high-end fashion and luxury brands. But, when it comes to finding an authentic gift or souvenir, it’s the vibrant souqs (traditional markets) that you should visit.
The best place for a souvenir shopping spree in Doha is at the Souq Waqif – the largest and oldest market in Qatar. Packed within the winding alleys, you’ll find everything from traditional handicrafts to textiles, spices and perfume. To help you with your decision-making, here’s a compilation of the most interesting Qatari souvenirs to take home. And remember, don’t be too shy to haggle. It’s part of the local shopping culture and is actually encouraged.
Decorate your home with ancient fabrics
The textiles are traditionally black, white, brown, beige and red, with distinctive geometric designs and motifs which symbolise the tribe’s rich cultural heritage and desert environment. You can see local women weaving at Souq Waqif. Head to the Corniche end of the souq where you’ll find an entire shop selling different kinds of Al-Sadu textiles.
Dallah Coffee Pots
A symbol of Arabic hospitality
More than functional, dallah are exquisitely decorated with geometric engravings and even gemstones. So whether or not you’re a coffee drinker, the authentic coffee pot is a striking decorative ornament for your home that can also spice up your teatime routine. You can find them at the Souq Waqif, and in most hotel gift shops and souvenir stores at malls such as City Centre and the Royal Plaza.
Pashminas, shawls and scarves
Drape yourself in silky-soft textiles available in all the colours of the rainbow
Pashminas in Qatar are inexpensive to buy compared to other destinations and come in a wide selection of colours, patterns and qualities. And since they can fold up small and are light to carry, why not buy several and give them as gifts? The only tricky thing will be deciding which colours to buy. In Doha, the Bombay Silk Centre on Al Khaleej Street and the Oriental Carpet Company in Bin Mehmood are local favourites to purchase good quality pashminas. You’ll find less expensive ones at Souq Waqif.
Fill your suitcase with scrumptious candies, dates, nuts and honey
You’ll also find natural honey, locally grown dates and all sorts of nuts. Dates come in different colours, sizes and sweetness and are of particular cultural importance in Qatar as they break the fast during Ramadan. Super sweet-tooth shoppers can indulge their addiction and buy chocolate-covered dates, pistachio and nut-filled dates or dates rolled with coconut or Arabic coffee. Try Al Aker Sweets on Salwa Road in Doha. For unusual date options sold by the box, head to Fal Elkhair Dried Dates Shop at Souq Waqif.
Take the scent of Qatar home with you
Although you can buy oud in a variety of forms, mainly as wooden chips for burning and body oil, buying a bottle of oud-based perfume is highly recommended. If only for the experience of allowing scent-filled flasks of luxurious Arabic perfume engulf your senses as you sample each one. Ajmal Perfumes at Souq Waqif sells locally made fragrances. You’ll also find perfume shops in all the country’s shopping malls, like City Centre, Hyatt Plaza and the Royal Plaza.
An easy Qatari keepsake
If you have something very specific in mind, most jewellers are happy to create your design. Try the Gold Souq, next to Souq Waqif (all gold jewellery sold here has a government stamp to prove its purity). For pearls, head to the Pearl Man shop, located in Al Bida Park in Rumailah, across the Corniche.
Freshen up your home with sweet-smelling Qatari incense
The rich, calming fragrance of frankincense is a popular option. But shoppers can also pick up bakhoor, an exotic, sweet-smelling fibrous ball of oud (agarwood) mixed with oils like ambergris, sandalwood, powdered flowers, oats and white musk. Even if you aren’t a fan of burning incense, the burner itself is a lovely souvenir to keep in your home. Souq Waqif and Omani Souq behind the Central Market are great places to find them.
Adorn your home with an authentic Qatari water pipe
You can buy different kinds of shisha pipes all over Qatar – from miniature ones ideal for decoration to big ones that you can use. Smoker or not, an adorned shisha makes for an authentic and colourful Qatari memento – you can even have one personalised for yourself or a loved one. Souq Waqif has a huge selection on display. Most stores offering foods and perfumes usually also sell shisha.
A pretty, useful and traditional catchall
The beautifully handcrafted boxes are made of wood and available in different shapes and sizes. Traditionally, they are adorned with intricate patterns, making them extra special. For something more exotic, you can find boxes made of brass and even camel bone boxes inlaid with metal or pearls. You can find them at Souq Waqif, Oriental Carpet Company on Suhaim Bin Hamad Street, and in shopping malls like City-Center Doha and Royal Plaza. Last-minute buys can be done at the Qatar Duty-Free at Hamad International Airport.
Illuminate a room with a touch of romance
The smaller hanging lamps are more affordable and easier to carry back home. But you may be tempted to buy a pretty swan-neck table lamp with a metal base. Whichever you choose, all the lamps are very delicate so take care when packing. It’s best to carry them in your hand luggage. You can find these iconic lamps sold extensively at Souq Waqif.
Beautiful Attire for Women showcasing arabic culture
You’ll find a plentiful range of Abaya shops in Doha to fit every budget. They range widely in quality, design, and price, starting from QR 100 to thousands of riyals in the designer malls. For better value many abayas can be found in Souq Al Dira, but the quality can be variable.
Delicious Fresh Dates grown in Qatar
Dates are a central facet of Middle Eastern culture and they’re especially prevalent during Ramadan where given as gifts or eaten at the conclusion of the fasting period. They’re a wonderfully rich source of fibre, potassium, iron, and magnesium, among other vitamins and minerals. They can also provide many health benefits, especially with regards to increased energy levels. Fresh, gourmet dates are available from Souq Waqif, where almond and hazelnut bars are a must. Different varieties of dates are also available at Carrefour and Lulu Hypermarket, who always carry many varieties at reasonable prices, and high-end gourmet products from Bateel are available citywide.
Homemade Spices which is a must buy from Qatar
The beautiful aroma and smell of Qatari cardamom, saffron, chilies, cinnamon, and cumin make a lovely gift for culinary fans among your family and friends. Gift-wrapped, they make a superb souvenir, as when unwrapped the taste and scents are evocative of your time spent in Qatar.
Qatar is well-known for being the pearl capital of the world
Qatar is well-known for being the pearl capital of the world, and you can buy superb, beautiful items made from pearls such as earrings and necklaces, that aren’t always that expensive. Pieces constructed from gold, amber, and other semi-precious stones are widely available in the jewelry quarter in Doha and in the Gold Souq.