Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

New Parking Souq Al Waqif

When I moved to Doha, in 2003, I did a panorama shot of the Doha skyline from the-spit-where-the-Bandar-restaurants-used-to-be. Unfortunately, I wasn’t into digital yet, so all I have is prints from film. In 2003, parking at the airport was free. I was told Doha meant sleepy, and then, it seemed pretty sleepy, even with the Iraqi invasion about to take place.

The Souq al Waqif was off limits to the military, a dark and dangerous place. I don’t believe it was dangerous for the same reasons they thought it was dangerous – the authorities thought that because it was a very traditional shopping area, incidents could happen. The real danger was from the uneven walking areas, with unexpected pits here and there or slick spots, or changes of elevation.

The last night I was recently down at the Souq al Waqif for dinner, I saw a small bus load of people arrive from the military base (the haircuts, duh) and it just made me grin. The Souq al Waqif is still a traditional place – and it is also a place that welcomes tourists, and welcomes expats. I am so thankful it is no longer, evidently, off-limits.

But oh, the parking. They have marked spaces. No, I am not so traditional that I insist on chaotic parking, marked spaces are fine. The marked spaces are fine, that is, when they give drivers enough space to park and to pull out. The new marked spaces at the Souq al Waqif are too small, and the driving lane between them has to weave between the Yukons on the left, the Denalis on the right and the delivery truck in front who just hit the Hummer trying to back out.

I am not exaggerating. Traffic was snarled for a half an hour while the police tried to sort out not one – but two accidents in the time I was trying to find a parking spot. On what felt like the hottest day of the year, you can imagine, it wasn’t even prime time at the Souq al Waqif. I can imagine the nights are a nightmare.


This is what I saw for half an hour while we didn’t move, except for people on the left who kept trying to edge in front of me:

But – where else but at the Souk al Waqif while you are stuck in a parking lot jam will you see a man cross in front of you with a pigeon in a cage?


And while the official temperature may have been 43°C or 44°C, this is what my gauge said:


Whoever designed the parking at Souq al Waqif should have to park there every day until it gets fixed.

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Community, Doha, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Shopping, Technical Issue | | 5 Comments