Having lived in Qatar for four years we have done a lot of Doha souvenirs shopping with our visitors. In this guide we round up what to buy from Doha from the most authentic Doha souvenirs to the tackiest which people seem to love as well as give you some Doha shopping tips to make sure you get a bargain when shopping in Doha.
Where to go shopping in Doha
Doha is a great shopping destination. It has a wealth of amazing malls offering stuff from high street favourites to high end luxury brands. But when I am asked where is the best place to go shopping in Doha my answer is always the Souq.
Doha has one main souq – Souq Waqif – which means Standing Market. The Souq is in a great Doha location close to the Museum of Islamic Arts, the National Museum of Qatar and with stunning views of West Bay it is a must for any Doha itinerary or stopover. Here you can buy a wealth of authentic souvenirs and a few fun unauthentic ones too! Even if you only have one day in Doha, in my opinion the Souq should be top of your things to do in Qatar list.
While here be sure to check out some of my favourite Souq Waqif restaurants especially those serving authentic Middle Eastern food.
What to buy from Qatar
Kahwa – Arabic Coffee Pots
Arabic Coffee is a staple in Qatari life and the traditional Arabic coffee pot is one of the most authentic souvenirs you can buy form Qatar.
These pots – known as Kahwa pots are also a great gift even if you don’t like coffee as some of them are beautifully engraved and make an ornament.
Note: Be sure to try a cup of Arabic coffee while you are in the Souq. There are usually sellers lining the street selling Arabic coffee and it is much cheaper than heading to a chain coffee shop. But be warned it tastes nothing like a Starbucks coffee being rich with cardamon and spices and not served with milk or sugar.
Whenever I think about visiting Souq Waqif I can’t help but be brought back to the aromatic smells of the spice souq. Spices in the Souq are very cheap to purchase and for me are one of the most traditional and authentic things that you can purchase at the souq.
Why Oud is one of the best things to buy in Doha
Oud is the traditional scent of the Middle East and you will smell it wherever you go – soul, malls, hotels and in my opinion is one of the best things to buy in Doha as a gift or souvenir.
Our can be purchased in a variety of forms either as our wood or out oil. But my favourite way of purchasing our is to buy some arabic perfume using this scent.
Dates and the Middle East go hand in hand and as you drive around Doha you will notice dates everywhere especially when you are driving along the famous Doha Corniche.
I also associate dates with Ramadan in Qatar as these are traditionally eaten when people are breaking their fast. It is traditional to eat them three at a time.
One of the things that surprised me when I lived in Qatar is the sheer variety of dates available. I would advise trying a couple of different varieties so you can find your favourite.
Why Pashminas are great things to buy from Qatar
When wondering what to wear in Doha one of the biggest tips I give people is to always carry a pashmina. Pashminas in Doha especially in the Souq are quite cheap to purchase which is why they are one of the best things to buy from Qatar as gifts.
Traditional things to buy from Qatar – Al Sadu Weaving
Al Sadu is the traditional Bedouin woven material and is one of the most traditional things to buy from Qatar. If you are heading to the Souq then head to the Corniche end. At this end of the Souq there is a whole shop that sells just al sadu weavings – you can’t miss it as there are rugs, cushions and other things piled outside the shop enticing you in. This is one of the most traditional things that you can buy in the Souq and you can even still see women doing the weaving in the souq.
In my opinion the traditional Arabic wooden boxes are one of the most beautiful things that you can buy in Doha that are also authentic. I have tons of these around my house and use them to hold jewellery and other trinkets. What I love about these is that you can buy them in a variety of shapes and sizes making them easy to fit in even hand luggage.,
These are a perfect present for the foodie in your life. Arabic sweets such as Baklava are a traditional souvenir to buy in Doha and are relatively inexpensive (depending where you head to purchase them). My personal favourites are the ones containing local honey.
Jewelry Especially Gold and Pearls
Before the oil boom in Qatar, Doha was one of the foremost pearling trading posts so jewelry especially those containing pearls are a really traditional gift to buy from Qatar.
Gold is another traditional purchase in Qatar and there is a gold souq adjacent to Souq Waqif. Even if you have no intention of buying jewellery I still recommend heading to the Gold Souq for a look round.
Is there anything more beautiful than an Arabic rug? There are lots of department stores and shops where you can buy Arabic rugs as well as there being plenty of options available in the Souq. These vary greatly in quality and design so you are sure to be able to find some for your price point and taste the only difficulty will be shipping them home!
Doha Shopping Tips
My absolute favourite place to go shopping in Doha is Souq Waqif. This is where I feel you get the most authentic experience of Doha rather than at the luxury malls (though there are many of these too). If you want to go shopping in Doha at the Souq my number one tip is do not be afraid to haggle. I’m quite British in my tendencies and I must admit I don’t like haggling and I’m not very good at it either. But haggling in the Souq is expected. Be sure not to take the first price when we are shopping in the Doha Souq for souvenirs or gifts.
Have you been to Qatar? What did you buy in Qatar?