Shopping in Doha
You can buy pretty much anything you want in Doha, apart from pork products and alcohol (except with a licence or in the major hotels). Shopping is a major leisure pursuit of many Qataris and expats; prices however are somewhat higher than in Dubai. As with in most of the Middle East, be prepared to bargain.
The best shopping experiences are undoubtedly to be had in the various souqs (markets).
- Souq Waqif, Al Jasra (near the Emiri Diwan and Al Koot Fort). 10AM-12AM, 4PM-10PM daily. Also referred to as the Old Souq, this is the best place to pick up souvenirs and rub shoulder with locals. There are a number of good restaurants and sheesha cafes located here. There are also a number of falcon shops, and some dealers will allow you to handle and photograph them. Also worth visiting are the horse stables (near the falcon shops) and the camels (near Al Koot Fort).
- Gold Souq, Ali Bin Abdullah St(Old Al Ghanim, near HSBC by the bus station). The place to buy gold and jewellery. The purity of gold is strictly regulated, so you can be sure of the quality.
- Fabric Souq, Al Ahmed St (near Fanar Mosque, with the distinctive spiral minaret). This actually comprises three different neighboring souqs (Al Ahmed, Al Asiery, and Al Dira). Here you can choose from a selection of exotic fabrics and have clothing designed and tailored to your specifications. For a complete outfit, allow about a week or two for completion.
- Omani Souq, Bu Hamour (near the Wholesale Market, parallel to Salwa Rd).Here you can buy things like spices, incense and woven baskets. Next door is a vegetable market.
Typically most malls in Doha are open from 10AM to 10PM Saturday to Thursday. Most will be closed on Friday mornings but will open up during the evening, when they'll be the most crowded. Also, be aware that some malls schedule "Family Days", where single men will be turned away at the door. In practice, however, most Westerners will be allowed in, but brown-skinned persons (particularly South Asians in their native dressing) will be turned away.
- City Center Doha, Conference Centre St (West Bay). Opened in April 2001 and is the largest shopping centre in Qatar. Located in West Bay, the modern part of the city on the northern end of the Corniche, it offers a large and diverse shopping experience, including several jewellery and perfume stores. For entertainment there is a large multiplex cinema, a bowling alley, a children's arcade, as well as an indoor ice skating rink. There are several eating options including two food courts as well as several sit-down restaurants. By western standards, this mall is quite dated for its age, but remains popular due to its large size and ideal location. Finally, the mall is home to a large Carrefour hypermarket.
- Ezdan Mall, Al Markhiya St (Gharafa, across the expressway from Landmark Shopping Mall). Doha's newest mall, with 200 tenants and a Carrefour supermarket. Not all shops are open yet.
- The Gate Shopping Center, Omar AlMukhtar St (West Bay, near City Center Doha), . Has 280 shops with mostly luxury goods. The popular bistro 'Jones the Grocer' is also located here.
- Hyatt Plaza, Hyatt Plaza Rd (Al Aziziyah, near Sports City and Villaggio Mall). This shopping mall is comparatively smaller than others, but as a plus it is always less crowded. There is a good sized food court and a large children's playland called "Jungle Zone."
- Lagoona Plaza, West Bay, Zone 66 (distinctive zigzag towers, near the Pearl-Qatar), . closed Sunday. Mostly high-end luxury goods, with a Carrefour grocery store.
- Landmark Shopping Mall, Al Markhiya St (Gharafa, across the expressway from Ezdan Mall). Focuses mostly on clothing, jewellery, and cosmetics. There is also a Carrefour hypermarket for groceries.
- The Mall, Najma St and D Ring Rd. Qatar's first shopping mall, opened in October 1997. Tourists are better off going to any of the aforementioned locations if they wish to purchase store goods.
- Villaggio Shopping Mall, Al Aziziyah. One of Doha's newest malls, located near the Aspire Centre. The mall is designed to look like Venice in terms of architecture, and is home to many western stores, as well as a large Carrefour. The food court is home to several Western-style fast food restaurants, as well as several sit-down options. For entertainment, there is currently a long canal offering gondola rides (15 QR), an ice-skating rink (30 QR), and a cinema with 13 screens and one IMAX screen. On May 28, 2012, a major fire broke out in the mall trapping and killing 19 people; the trial assessing culpability is still ongoing. The mall reopened in September 20, 2012.
The availability of English-language books in Doha is fairly limited but improving, and there are several shops which offer some current titles as well as regional travel guides. Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket, and Megamart all sell international magazines and newspapers along with local maps.
- ISpy Book Shop, City Center Mall, Level 3 (West Bay), , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. Stocks a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books in English, as well as a small selection in French and German. Has a decent selection of travel guides and maps.
- Jarir Bookstore (Salwa), Salwa Rd (near the junction with C-Ring Rd, not far from the Radisson Blu), , e-mail:[email protected]. Sa-Th 9AM-10PM; F 4PM-10PM. Sells Arabic and English language books, and a good selection of international magazines and newspapers. Also has a Costa coffee bar. There is a second branch near Education City, on Al Rayyan Al Jadeed Rd.
- Tribe Bookstore, Student Center, Education City, , e-mail: [email protected]. Sa-Th 8AM-9PM. Carries fiction and non-fiction, as well as magazines and stationery. Special orders are welcome.
- Virgin Megastore, Villaggio Mall, . Stocks books and magazines in Arabic, English, and French. A second branch in Landmark Mall has a much smaller selection.
- WH Smith, Ezdan Mall. Doha's newest and largest bookstore is currently in a soft-opening phase, and expected to be fully open in November 2013.