Restaurants and coffee shops along the Corniche of Al Wakrah Souq have enjoyed brisk business since the onset of the winter season, but are competing for customers, whose numbers dwindled following the opening of two large Doha-based festivals.

The well-attended Souq Waqif Spring Festival, which opened on January 22, and the third edition of the Winter Festival, organised by the Katara - the Cultural Village on January 24, slashed Al Wakrah Souq’s customer arrival by 50%, according to Ahmed, a restaurant supervisor.

Since the arrival of winter, his restaurant, which opened some six months ago, was packed especially during the weekends.

“However, most, if not all, establishments here have been competing for visitors since the opening of the two festivals,” he lamented.

But unlike the 15-day Souq Waqif Spring Festival, the Winter Festival at Katara concluded on Thursday. “We are looking forward to entertaining once more our regular patrons and would-be customers,” he added.

Annette, a service staff of another restaurant also observed that aside from the two Doha-based events, the bitter cold, which gripped many parts of Qatar in the past few days, have contributed to low customer arrivals.

“The breeze along the Corniche adds to the chill factor, which makes it difficult for many service staff waiting at tables outside their respective establishments,” she noted.

This was reiterated by a coffee shop waiter, who told Gulf Times that some restaurants and similar establishments provide outdoor heaters while others offer blankets to customers while dining al fresco.

The Al Wakrah Souq has gained popularity since it was opened to the public in 2014. According to Annette, at least four new establishments have opened since last year.

The area mirrors the popular Souq Waqif in Doha, although many shops are yet to open. However, many residents in Wakrah, as well as those coming from other communities, frequent its scenic Corniche, which is adorned by a variety of eateries, white-sand beaches, and several dhows that showcase Qatar’s rich maritime past. It also has a mosque and a spacious parking lot.

Previous reports have said that more stores dedicated to local entrepreneurs are set to open this year. Currently, outlets at Al Wakrah Souq provide women’s clothing and accessories, tailoring services, and handmade home decorations, among others.

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