Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Doha Museum of Islamic Art, Take 4

I can’t let friends or family come to Doha without a trip to the serene beauty of the Doha Museum of Islamic Art. Little Diamond was content to view the exhibits at her own speed, so I visited a few of my favorite friends:

I never tire of spending time with Iznik Tiles

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There is an Iranian piece that bowls me over with its beauty
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And I just have this thing for light fixtures. This is a mosque lamp, and I think it is Turkish

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But oh, look at the interior of the museum itself:

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There is a breathtaking view of the Corniche Skyline from the spot where, on the map, they say the coffee shop should be. It really needs a coffee shop there. The restrooms are immaculate, the gift shop has lovely items, the exhibits are lush and beautiful, but you need a place to sit and think about what you’ve seen, compare notes, recharge so you can go back and take another look at something you are wondering about. It really, really needs that coffee shop.

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July 21, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Community, Cultural, Doha, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Public Art, Qatar | , | 9 Comments

Souq Al Waqif and The Tajine

I can’t let Little Diamond leave Doha without one more visit to the Souk al Waqif. She used to go with me in the old days, when the souk was really really really HOT, and stuffy, and even a little dirty, and the pathways were dark and potholed, so you could easily trip or fall down. Some people I would take loved the place, some didn’t want to set foot inside. It was considered dangerous, and off limits to the military folk.

I miss the scribes. I miss the shoemakers. I miss the little hardware stalls, where when I would ask for masonry nails, 3/4″, they would take me by my sleeve to the man who sold masonry nails. It was a sweet souk then.

It is a WOW souk now. Many of the vendors are the same, even though some have gone missing. There is still the canvas sailmaker, and the fishing supplies man, and the bird souk. There is still the HUGE kitchen souk, and I don’t mean it is a large store, I mean it is a store for giant people, who cook in pots the size that a grown man or woman – or both – could hide in!

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When we lived in Jordan, we used to be invited to feasts, Mensefs, a huge rice dish, served with goat most often, sometimes chicken, rarely lamb or mutton (sheep) if it was a really really special occasion on huge round trays. The trays in the Souk Al Waqif would probably serve twenty men at one time, they are so huge.

People say you can’t stop progress. When we lived in Doha the last time, the municipality put in meters for paid street parking. Qatteris were so outraged that the meters were ripped back out without ever being used. I wonder where all those hundreds of unused parking meters ended up?

Today there is a story in the paper about paid parking going in at the Souq al Waqif, and they quote five or six people who are wildly enthusiastic about the idea and all I can wonder is . . . where did they find people who would publicly say they were in favor of PAYING for parking that they always have had for free? The article says that now they will have less competition from large trucks, but when we are there at congested times, it is normal everyday SUV’s and family goat-trucks that are competing for the parking spaces. I wonder if the public perception has changed so much in five years that people are now openly praising paid parking?

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It isn’t costly. It’s going to be like 3QR – less than a dollar. It also isn’t covered, and when you park your car in the lot, it is hotter than anything you can imagine when you come out, even if it is only 0930 and only been sitting there for an hour. The best time to go is night, during these hot summer months, and even so – the place is hopping. Even on a week night, there are so many good restaurants down in the Souk al Waqif restaurant row that it is a go-to place for a dinner out.

We tried the Tagine, as we all like Moroccan Food.

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The greeting was warm, and the service was attentive.

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The food was excellent. Now I have an admission to make, one I have had to make frequently – I forgot to take a photo when the food was served, so all you can see is the mostly eaten remains. I am so sorry, sincerely sorry, but it smelled SO good, and we were SO hungry.

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We sat overlooking the souks. There is a wonderful terrace for outdoor dining, but it is just a little too hot and humid for us to enjoy eating outside right now. We can hardly wait for October, when those cooler breezes start blowing.

These are the pre-starter nibbles, delicious olives, a tangy spicy Harissa paste, and delicious fresh-baked bread that melts in your mouth:

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We ordered the mixed hot starters, which all disappeared before I thought to take a photo, and Little Diamond had the Addas (lentil) soup, also very good, also not photographed. We had the Moroccan Salad and Zaalouk, an eggplant/ tomato salad we adore. Yep. We were so hungry I forgot to take photos.

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AdventureMan ordered Chicken With Slim Bread because we had never heard of it before and it sounded interesting. It was good. He shared with me. 🙂 He also chose the CousCous with 7 Vegetables, because when we lived in Tunisia, we were told traditionally it was always supposed to have seven vegetables (and one was always squash, and there were always garbanzo beans, and there was always tomato, and pretty much always carrot – it was always a very vegetable-y dish). It doesn’t sound like we ordered that much, but it was so delicious, and so filling, that it there was food left over.

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The bill was reasonable. Wine and beer are not available, and that keeps the totals lower. We rolled ourselves back to the car, already planning our next trip to his delightful restaurant.

Once the sun goes down, the heat isn’t so bad. The Souq Al Waqif is so much fun at night. Everyone goes there – the locals, the expats, the tourists – it thrills my heart to see a public space so well loved, so well used. There are some very cool art spots going in, too!

One of my good friends told me there is a blog in Arabic that talks about searching for a restaurant I had written about in Mubarakiyya, only to find out it was in Doha. The blogger had invited guests. I felt so bad. So I will add this: WARNING WARNING THIS RESTAURANT IS IN DOHA, QATAR, NOT IN KUWAIT!

July 21, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Community, Customer Service, Doha, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Public Art, Qatar, Shopping | 1 Comment