5 Tips for visiting Souq Waqif with a Baby during the Summer

Whenever we get visitors to Doha the first place they want to go is the Souq Waqif. Why wouldn’t they – the Souq is awesome and gives people a flavour of something uniquely Middle Eastern. Souq Waqif – meaning Standing Market, is located just off the Doha Cornice. A beautiful spot when you can get a real taste for the local culture. It was therefore  no surprise when family came to visit Baby E that they wanted to go to the Souq. Baby E was born as we were heading into summer so was this going to be possible?

It absolutely was! But there are certainly ways to do it that make it more enjoyable for all so here are my top tips for visiting Souq Waqif with a baby in the Summer!

Souq Waqif at night
Souq Waqif at night
Do as the locals do! 

Embrace the night-time. The souq doesn’t really come alive until the evening anyway so do as the locals do and head down to the Souq after sundown. This will be a more authentic experience, have a better atmosphere and cooler for everyone!

Baby carrier or pram? 

This was a big debate we had. The Baby Carrier would make manoeuvrability a lot easier – The main street of Souq Waqif is cobbled, off which are a series of small narrow alleyways lined with shops and traders which aren’t to be missed for a true Souq experience – but carrying a baby that close to you was likely to make us both hot and sweaty. Given the time of year and the heat we opted for the pram. Yes this was a bit more cumbersome but a decision I am glad we took. When we return in the Winter we would definitely use the carrier but for summer months the pram is a must!

Make sure you dress for summer even at night
Make sure you dress for summer even at night
Dress appropriately

This goes without saying for adults, but follow all the rules and customs about keeping shoulders and knees covered as to not cause offence but remember these rules don’t apply to little ones. Dress your little one in vests only to keep them cool but be sure to have blankets with you as many of the Souq restaurants have fierce air-conditioning.

Ask for Lifts

Some of the restaurants have upstairs with lovely terraces or seating areas. Be sure if you are travelling with a pram to ask if there is a lift. The restaurant we were in had one but it was tucked out of sight!

Avoid Shisha

I personally don’t like taking Baby E to places that are smoky, even with shish smoke (which some people wrongly say isn’t as harmful!), so we tend to visit restaurants where they either don’t serve shisha or where smokers are separated from diners.

These are our top five tips for visiting the Souq at night with a baby! What advice would you give?

This post was done as part of the #CityTripping Linkup hosted by MummyTravels

 

Seychelles Mama

 

Surviving the Middle East Summer with a Newborn

Surviving summer in the Middle East with a Newborn

As Doha traffic will testify, most expats leave for the summer; trying to escape the Middle Eastern heat where temperatures can and do exceed 50 degrees. If you are not one of those people able to participate in the mass expat exodus, summer can be a particularly long and difficult time, especially with a newborn! So here are my top tips for surviving a Middle Eastern Summer with a new baby!

Make malls your friend!
I think there are two kinds of people in this world – those that like shopping and those that don’t! I am definitely in the latter of these groups but living in the Middle East, especially in the Summer, you learn to embrace the mall! Not necessarily for shopping but as one of the few places you can go for a walk during the daytime. Many malls in Qatar try to encourage residents to walk 10K steps a day and have routes to achieve this. Ok, I know, it’s not the most riveting walk you will ever go on but it is at least a chance to stretch your legs and have a change of scenery!

Find local groups
While you are stuck at home with your newborn, it can feel like you are the only new mother who hasn’t escaped to cooler climbs but this isn’t the case. You just have to know where to find them. Scope out any local mother and baby groups and go along to one of their events. Let’s face it at this point, outings are more for your sanity than baby’s development so go out there and meet new people.

Become nocturnal (ish)
Ok – this is a piece of advice that I struggle to follow. Baby E is a baby who loves her routine and we have got bedtime down to a tee! I am reticent to change anything that may mess up her sleep schedule but I know other mothers who this has worked a charm for. You will find that many venues in the Middle East only come alive at night – particularly places like the Souq! So do as the locals do and take advantage of the cooler night temperatures! The times we have done it we have had great fun!

Enjoy some culture
Aside from malls, the other thing Qatar is investing is in culture as part of its 2030 vision. There are several great museums in Qatar that you can visit during the summer. The Muesum of Islamic Art and Mathaf  are must sees while in Qatar.

Take advantage of baby’s portability and treat yourself!
It seems hard I know, surviving summer with a newborn but I am pretty sure it only gets more difficult as baby gets older and requires constant entertainment. So why not take advantage of the portability and relative immobility of baby and indulge in some indoor entertainment for yourself. My favourites so far have been indulging in afternoon tea at the Four Seasons (see our review) and an array of business lunches at some of Doha’s finest hotels.

What advice do you have for mothers with newborns for surviving a Middle Eastern summer?

Babymoon in Muscat, Oman

I am one of those people who will use any excuse to travel, so I hopped on the idea of Babymoons with great enthusiasm (we had a few as you will see in the posts to come). The first of these was in Muscat, the lovely capital of Oman. Oman is only a short hop from our base in Doha and has a noticeably cooler climate making it a perfect retreat from the searing Doha sun.

We stayed at The Chedi Hotel, a luxury hotel only a short drive from Muscat international airport. From the moment we arrived the service was impeccable and the hotel oozed the luxury it promised.

A pretty unbeatable breakfast spot
A pretty unbeatable breakfast spot
Breakfast is served buffet style but this is no ordinary breakfast but the best breakfast buffet I have ever seen with live cooking stations and plenty of choice of outstanding quality. More akin to a Middle East Friday Brunch than your average breakfast buffet. To top it all, we got to have breakfast with this view.

The other meals were no disappointment either – we particularly enjoyed the beachfront seafood restaurant where you could eat your freshly caught fish by the sound of the ocean with sand between your toes.

  

Mocktails at the Chedi

One of the things that I loved about being pregnant in the Middle East, the heat certainly wasn’t it! – was the fact that everywhere you go there is a vast array of interesting and delicious mocktails. I never felt like I wasn’t having a special evening, as the mocktails were so delicious. The Chedi was no exception to this.

 

The Long Pool at Night
The Long Pool at Night (the longest pool in the Middle East)
The facilities at this hotel are beyond fault so much so we never actually left the hotel grounds. Something that we never do! We are all for exploring the local area, using hotels just to sleep but with amenities and service like that experienced at the Chedi it is hard to tear yourself away. The hotel boasts three pools, including the long pool, the longest pool in the Middle East. Impressive to say the least. Our personal favourite was the beach pool, where you could sit on your lounger with your feet in the sand, and take a dip with an amazing view. It was also located next to the beach bar, which meant you were never short of fresh cold water – a must for any pregnant traveller.  The third pool, is the most child-friendly with shading over pool and large shaded beds around the edges. I can’t wait to take Baby E back, to give this one a try!

So would I recommend The Chedi in Muscat for a babymoon? Absolutely! The cooler Middle Eastern climate, beautiful views, fabulous food and mocktails make it the perfect choice for a Middle Eastern Babymoon!

 

 

Fearless Family Travellers! Embracing luxury and adventure around the globe. On a mission to prove that travel with a baby is not only possible but fun!