I couldn't stop admiring the drive in from the airport as, every hundred feet or so, the long line of light poles would change colors. When we got close to them, I noticed they each had elaborate Arabic calligraphy.
We walked from our hotel to the recently overhauled Souk Waqif which was about ten minutes away. There has been a souk or bazaar on the site for centuries as this was the site where the Bedouin - the Arabic-speaking nomadic people of the Middle Eastern deserts - would bring their sheep, goats and wool to trade for essentials.
By the end of the last century, I read that it had become ‘a scruffy warren of concrete alleyways’ which had almost become condemned for demolition. Luckily, somebody spotted its tourist potential and the entire market has been redeveloped so it looked like a 19th century souk.
The venture was so successful that the souk keeps growing to accommodate new ‘old alleyways’ and is one of Doha’s top attractions. It was indeed very appealing to walk around but appeared to be just a bit too ‘sanitized’ to me after seeing many traditional and truly old souks elsewhere.
However, the souk was certainly the place to look for spices, perfumes, fabrics of every color as well as traditional handicrafts.
We enjoyed breakfast at one of the outdoor cafes, watcing the world go by as we ate.
All Qatari men we saw wore the traditional white thobe, a long garment shaped much like a shirt. On their heads, they wore a guthra, a square piece of fabric that was usually checkered with red and white or black and white squares. I was astounded to learn that of Qatar's total population of 1.8 million in 2013, only 278,000 were Qatari citizens. The 1.5 million others were expatriates. As a result, it was easy to tell which men were Qatari or from another nation by their dress.
When is the last time anyone you know used a pressure cooker? I remember my mom had one eons ago but I had forgotten about them altogether until seeing these in the souq.
Turmeric, ginger and so many other spices – too bad we couldn’t bottle up the intriguing scents and take them home with us!
A view of one of the city's mosques:
This was a mix used with either chicken or meat and looked far too attractive to pass up getting some to take home.
I couldn’t resist buying some of this red concoction that looked like dried cranberries but the store employee said it was used to cook with rice. I hope a certain family member might like it as she is a far more adventurous cook than I.
As much as I enjoyed wandering through the souk looking at the merchandise, what caught my eye more was just looking at the people.
Steven had read about Doha having a Falcon Souk which was where we walked over to once we left the regular souk. We have been to souks in many places but had never come across a Falcon Souk before.
In five weeks, near the very end of of our trip, we'll be visiting the United Arab Emirates. While in the city of Abu Dhabi, we have reservations to take a tour of the Falcon Hospital there. Our time wandering around Doha's Falcon Souk whetted my appetite to learn something about falcons.
What a hoot seeing the man at the ATM with his falcon. Sure don’t see something like that back home in Denver!
I needed a 20 minute catnap after our late night arrival in Doha so I rested on the fairly comfortable bench in the shade of the falcon souk.
I admired the building's exterior lacey designs.
To escape the 35 degree heat and take advantage of the shade, we walked back through the souk which was closed daily from 1-4 to access the city's waterfront.
Janina: I thought of you when I saw these high-backed benches in the small park as I know you like bench photos.
The first thing we saw as we popped up from the underpass was this large Pearl Monument, an homage to Qatar's pearling past.
Doha's impressive skyline where the business district was, was located across the bay from the souk and the old part of the city.
Doha had one of the more unusual skylines. It was one we looked forward to seeing close up the next day as we were headed away from the city's West Bay toward the city's biggest museum.
This building looked like it was an ice cream cone but perhaps that was just because I had ice cream on my brain as it was hot!
Qatar's flag looked like it was the same as Bahrain’s until I noticed the red shade was actually a smidge darker.
Like so many of Doha's buildings, it was stark white; it was shaped like an ultra-modern fortress with few windows so as to cut down on energy use.
What a magnificent entrance to the museum with the long path which culminated in the water feature.
Once inside the Museum, we had the sense of being in a mosque with the huge chandelier and the dome common to most large mosques.
Ceramic Cenotaph from Central Asia dated from the second half of the 14th C.:
A fabulous wool carpet from Iran, dated the second half of the 16th C.:
When I saw the early 14th C. Iron Gate Plaque from Bagdad, I figured Iraq would be a country we‘ll never likely visit! We may well be fairly adventurous in the places we choose to travel to, but crazy we’re not.
This 16th C. painting from Uzbekistan was titled 'The vizier pleads for the life of a young bandit.’ I have sure heard of all the 'stan' countries but I sure couldn't pick out where they are on a map,
The views out to the green waters of Doha Bay from the massive floor to ceiling windows were very impressive.
Science in Art: Scientists of the Muslim world placed emphasis on experimentation, making significant innovations and achievements in astronomy, mathematics, medicine, engineering and other scientific fields. In turn, late medieval European scholars translated these scientific and philosphical texts from Arabic into Latin. The emergence of Muslim intellectual efforts played an essential role in the Renaissance in Western Europe.
I couldn't fail to admire the vibrant colors that still remained in the Late 15th C. Silk Textile from Spain:
9th-10th C. Earthenware Dish from Iran or Central Asia:
This very intricately carved 11th-12th C. Hunting Horn from Italy was made from ivory and brass.
These 14th C. Book Binding Flaps from Egypt were made from leather and gilding.
We walked upstairs next to the second floor. There we saw this 15th-16th C. Armor for Horse and Rider from Turley and made from steel. I just pitied the poor horse suffering under the weight.
One huge 17th C. Cushion Cover from Iran:
I figured the Jeweled Falcon from India, dating to 1640 and made from gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and onyx was in the perfect museum after visiting the Falcon Souk earlier today!
Horse-Headed Dagger and Scabbard from India, dated from 1700:
The rug was an absolute work of art and looked very different depending which end of the rug we viewed it from.
Pretty fancy 14th C. Egyptian Candlesticks made with brass, gold and silver, don’t you think?
Upstairs, we were surprised to see a small gallery devoted to Muhammed Ali and called ‘Tribute to a Legend.’
Seeing this exhibit reminded us of how incredibly fortunate Steven and I were to have seen the thousands of warriors when we visited Xian, China in 2013.
It was only 4:45 but the sun was setting.
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday this time we were stuck in traffic on the King Fahd Causeway in Manama, Bahrain, hoping to see the sunset there.
From this angle, it looked like there were eyes on the Museum that followed us as we walked!
This mosque's fanciful minaret was also visible from our hotel room.
The Pottery Jar Fountain marked the corner by the Museum.
True to form, we hadn’t stopped for lunch at all so we were relived to find a restaurant easily enough and that also looked appealing.
We were escorted to the restaurant’s Family Room, i.e. for women as the other part of the restaurant was for men only. Now that was a first for us!
I had been on a freshly squeezed orange juice kick ever since I had had some at our hotel in Giza, Egypt. Every restaurant in the Middle East we had been to served the juice so I was quite content!