Here in Qatar it is all about time and timing. Depending on the season, the schools and numerous other factors the hours of operation for businesses vary widely. Often businesses do not list their hours outside so that they can open and close as is convenient. This works unless its 8pm on a Saturday night and you work at 7:30am Sunday and you just want to drop off your dry cleaning please.
So Saturday we tried to visit Souq Waqif , Al Jasra, Doha, Qatar. It is a freestanding market made of many little shops. I can't think of much in the US to compare it to. In terms of variety I would say it is more like a flea market. Also haggling over the prices is suggested and encouraged. This would not be typical behavior at a mall. The day that we visited it was very apparent that it was just too hot to be outside. Consequently the Souq is only open from 4-8pm. We arrived around 1pm and just could not last in the heat until everything opened. You can see from some of the picture just how desolate the place was.
It was very quiet at the souq because the majority of shops were closed. You will notice from my pictures that there are only a few people. Some of this imagery is intentional. While photobombing may be common other places, in Qatar it is impolite to take photographs of people without asking since if you ask I assume they would say no. You cannot just wander around and take pictures of the locals. While they may seem very unique and fascinating, citizens would prefer to carry on with their day and not feel like a NatGeo special. Even at the mall below which was quite crowded, I tried really hard to only have blurry people or people so far in the distance that they could not be identified.
I did see some open shops like this store filled with colorful garments. Given the heat it was hard to think about what to buy or how to talk the price of items down. The beautiful clothing was in stark contract to the hard working porters and shop keepers who seem immune to the heat but must be sweltering. We did visit the pet area of the souq. It is a pet store with lots of floor space outside. It was uncanny to see fish tanks and bird cages out on the patios. There has been some discussion of this space being changed and the pets sold elsewhere as the heat for the animals could be dangerous. Ironically souqs are famous for the selling of falcons for hunting but on our visit all we saw were pigeons.
Since it was too hot to stay outside we drove to another local attraction the Villaggio mall, Al Waab Street, Al Aziziyah, Doha, Qatar. If you have seen the Venetian mall in Las Vegas you have an idea of what the Villaggio look like. The inside is highly stylized to make you think you are outdoors even though you purposefully came indoors to avoid the heat. The mall has gondola rides, a small theme park for kids and an ice rink for both hockey games and public skating. One store we found really amusing was Snog, and they sell frozen yogurt. Their slogan is "I Fancy a Snog," which may remind you of TCBY which stood for "The Country's Best Yogurt." The name made us laugh both times we walked by.