Souq Waqif and Fifa Fan Festival, places you must visit in Doha

Even as France takes on Argentina in the Fifa World Cup 2022 final, here are some of the other top attractions in Qatar


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Published: Fri 16 Dec 2022, 7:30 PM

Last updated: Fri 16 Dec 2022, 7:51 PM

After 62 matches spanning 28 days of footballing magic in the heart of Qatar, we are now all set for the final two acts at the Fifa World Cup.

Morocco, the people’s champion, will take on Croatia for the third place tonight.

Then 24 hours later, the Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina will lock horns with Kylian Mbappe’s France to earn the right to lift the famous trophy.

It’s a match that will bring the entire world to a standstill for ninety minutes.

But in case you are planning a flying visit to Qatar for the final two days (December 17 and December 18) of this World Cup, there is a lot you can do apart from watching the matches.

A visit to Souq Waqif (pictured above) is a must. This traditional marketplace in the heart of Doha has become a hub for the World Cup fans.

Since the start of the world’s greatest carnival, thousands of fans have been hitting the beautiful alleys of this Souq famous for its traditional Arab spices, handicrafts, pearls, falconry, street performances from local cultural troupes and delicious kebabs served at various food stalls.

The easiest way to reach there is to take the metro and get off at the Msheireb Metro Station.

The 10-minute walk to the Souq through Msheireb Downtown Doha is a sight for sore eyes, with the modern buildings sitting next to museums in perfect harmony.

Set out in the morning to soak up the football-laced atmosphere at Msheireb Downtown Doha where people walk past you in their favourite team’s colours and others just lazily enjoy a cup of coffee in the cozy cafes.

If the perfectly placed signage still can’t clear your doubts, street marshals found every 50 yards will guide you to the Souq Waqif from Msheireb Downtown Doha.

Once you reach there, the Souq’s traditional architecture will transport one to a bygone era.

There, walk among the sea of football fans soaking up the incredible atmosphere. Every night, fans of the victorious teams rushed off to this Souq with drums and pipes, fervently dancing and singing until the wee hours.

It’s also a place where football becomes the common language for fans, where a Mexican fan happily shares a smile and clicks pictures with fans from Tunisia, Morocco, South Korea and even Peru.

Rayeef, who runs a watch shop selling football-themed straps, said Souq Waqif is one place no one visiting Qatar should miss.

Rayeef runs a watch shop and sells football-themed straps.
Rayeef runs a watch shop and sells football-themed straps.

“It’s the biggest marketplace in Doha. You will find people from all walks of life, buying traditional handicrafts, eating at the restaurants here. During Fifa, this place has been buzzing all day and night,” he said.

“I think easily around 2.5 million people have visited this place during this World Cup. The government planned it very well, they decorated the whole place so nicely and everyone that came here, experienced a very different atmosphere.”

Afay, a Moroccan football fan who lives in France, would never forget the energy of Souq Waqif.

Moroccan fans Afay, Karim, and Kevin at Souq Waqif.
Moroccan fans Afay, Karim, and Kevin at Souq Waqif.

“This place is crowded with football fans, everyone wants to come here. There is joy and happiness in this place. It’s beautiful,” he said.

“But most importantly, it’s a very safe and secure place. You can just come here and enjoy this place freely.”

For Maga, an Argentinian fan, Souq Waqif is the greatest melting pot she has ever seen in her life.

Maga (centre, front row) with other Argentinian fans.
Maga (centre, front row) with other Argentinian fans.

“I love coming here. I come here every day with my friends. This place has an amazing energy,” she said.

“You get to meet people from different cultures. The fans are always cheering and dancing. We just come here, enjoy a meal in one of the traditional restaurants and walk around among the people.”

Souq Waqif might distract you from your actual goal in Qatar, the football.

And if you arrived in Qatar without match tickets, head to the Fifa Fan Festival at Al Bidda Park where you will be treated to live music from popular DJs and watch the matches on giant screens among thousands of fans.

The Fan Festival is a 20-minute walk from Corniche Metro Station.

Having enthralled 40,000 fans every evening with live World Cup matches on giant screens and performances from some of the biggest names in the music industry, the Fan Festival will host celebrated Jamaican singer Sean Paul tonight.

The 49-year-old singer will take the stage after the end of the third-place match between Morocco and Croatia. The organisers have not yet announced the list of performers for the final day of the tournament.

Mexican fan Jesus, who had 16 match tickets during the tournament, enjoyed every game he didn’t have a ticket for at the Fan Festival.

“I landed in Doha on December 20, the day of the first match, at 6am local time. I didn’t have a ticket for the opening match, so I went to the Fan Festival. It was an amazing experience to watch the match on the giant screen among so many people from so many different countries,” he said.

“They have made great arrangements for the fans at the Fest. It’s very comfortable and convenient. The music was good.

“I saw people from a lot of different countries, taking videos, pictures, waving their flags. This is why I came here, to meet people from different cultures. And I experienced that not just at the stadiums, but also at the Fest. It was an amazing experience.”

Hayya Card, the entry permit to Qatar for the World Cup, gives you free access to the Fan festival which will be buzzing on the final two nights of this football carnival.


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