Souq Waqif used to be the Bedouin's weekend trading area. It is now the only traditional souq, or standing market, in the gulf. Its maze of narrow streets offers traditional architecture, arts and handicrafts. Visitors can shop for a diverse range of goods including spices, perfumes, dried fruits and nuts, honey, clothing, tools, garden equipment, pots and incense. Traditional Bedouin weaving, handicrafts, wooden bridal chests and paintings and pictures by local artists can also be found. The souq is located behind the Corniche, off Grand Hamed Street in Doha.
The ancient village of Al-Zubarah is one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the gulf. It is 2 Km from the Al-Zubarah fort in the northwest of Qatar, 107 Km from Doha. The buildings were made using a traditional Qatari technique of mixing coral and limestone with a mud mortar, which is then topped with a gypsum based plaster. The plaster was often decorated with geometric patterns and offered the buildings protection from wind and rain. There are two excavated sites, and digging continues in one. Artefacts are displayed in the Al-Zubarah fort.
The site is always open and there is no admission fee; a four wheel drive vehicle and a GPS are recommended.
There is also a local museum at the Al-Zubarah fort. It presents a history of the town and has a range of exhibits including coins, pottery, porcelain, jewellery and pictures of the excavations. The fort itself is a good example of a Qatari fort and building techniques. The fort is free to enter and is open daily from 08:00 until 18:00; it is closed on Friday mornings.
There are several small fishing villages in northwest Qatar which offer visitors a glimpse of traditional life in the state before the discovery of oil. The three abandoned villages Al-Areesh, Al-Khuwair and Al-Jemail paint a vivid picture of the hardships of life for people dependent on fishing on the coasts. Each village has a mosque at its centre with small fishermanâ€™s houses surrounding it. A four wheel drive vehicle is recommended for visiting the villages.
Al Jassassiya is in northwest Qatar. It is home to the best preserved and most spectacular petroglyphs in the state. There are carvings of geometric shapes, animals and ships in the outcrops of fossil sand dunes, or jebels. Many of the carvings are similar to those found in the temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt. The area also has ruined dwellings and remains of pottery from the 15th century.
The Al Koot Fort is typical of those built between the 17th and 19th centuries; it is rectangular with four towers. It is in the northwest of the country, 110 Km from Doha. Two kilometres from the Al Shagab fort is the Al Rekaya Fort, which was built during the same period.
The Al Shagab Fort in Doha was built in 1927 to protect Souq Waqif from thieves. Visits are by appointment only; visits can be arranged by telephoning 4442 4143.
The Barzan towers offer spectacular views out to sea. The towers have been used to watch for approaching ships, keep watch over pearl divers and as an observatory. The towers are in Umm Slal Mohammed, 20 Km north of Doha and can be visited 24 hours a day.