Qatar is the wealthiest country in the world as per capita income, and its capital Doha offers a superb variety of shops. There are fancy malls filled with top designer labels, plenty of small individual shops, art galleries, and then there is the traditional souk, Souq Waqif. To plan ahead and learn where to shop for what, read on.
Mall of Qatar
Just to see what a country that is hot and sandy can do to allow its people to walk for miles, shop and be entertained for hours, all in the comfort of air-conditioning, visit the Mall of Qatar. The enormous mall houses some 500 shops and around 100 food outlets in its 5.4 million-square-foot space, plus a 19-screen cinema, multiple bowling alleys, kids’ play zones and a 5-star Hilton hotel. The gigantic central space, dubbed The Oasis, is a stage for year-round entertainment, such as circus and dance troupes.
Fancy shopping, or at least window-shopping, for a Ferrari, an Elie Saab ball gown, or an Hermès bag? Look no further than the man-made island called The Pearl. The heat being what it is in Qatar, this is one of the few places where you can stroll outside as well as inside, past the marina with its big yachts, past the luxury residences and celebrity-chef restaurants. There are plenty of ice-cream shops and cafes to make you feel like you are in the south of France.
If you want to immerse yourself in a more regional shopping experience, visit Lulu Hypermarket. This is a kind of department store where the locals shop for food, clothes, knickknacks and everything in between. You can shop for an abaya or other traditional outfits, buy home décor, or beauty products. At times a little garish and kitsch, it is still a great place to see how and where the not-so-super-rich shop, and the food selections are always worth a look, as there are plenty of exotic fruit, various camel-based products, from milk to meat, and the sweets section is very tempting.
If you have always loved Venice, look no further than Villagio Mall. Decked out with glass domes, marble floors and walls, faux-palazzi and canals complete with gondolas, this mall is worth visiting even if you were to ignore the gorgeous designer shops. The mall offers a good mix of super-luxury (like Manolo Blahnik and Tiffany’s) and affordable high street fashion (like H&M and Zara). There are plenty of food halls and cafes for pre- and post-shopping snacks as well as a cinema and indoor ice rink.
Daiso is a Japanese chain which is slowly spreading across the globe, but there are still plenty of areas without access to this great, cheap store that offers all things Japanese. Buying storage options, plates and bowls, or stationary may not have been the reason you came to Doha, but there are few people who leave this shop without something they never knew they needed. Everything is very reasonably priced and generally quite small, so the items are perfect for bringing back home with you.
There is no better place to soak up the atmosphere of old Arabia and shop for great souvenirs; cloth; traditional clothing; saucepans that, quite literally, fit a camel; spices and handicrafts, than here. Sensitively restored after a fire in 2003, the souq is full of atmosphere and lovely shops, together with plenty of little cafes and traditional restaurants. One of the best places to explore in Doha, this is not to be missed.
This shop is a little hidden gem. Filled to the ceiling with Iranian, Indian and Arabian home décor, knick-knacks and things left behind by expatriates from around the world, it is a little dusty and a little messy, but, like all the best antique stores, it's a delight to search through for some treasures. There is no street number for the store but head to Al Mirqab Al Jadeed Street and you'll be able to find it.
Arabia is all about carpets, and here you can not only see some stunning examples from the region, but you can also learn about the making and traditions behind each rug and shop for your very own carpet, flying or not.