Souq Waqif is probably the biggest attraction for anyone coming from outside Qatar. Preserved in its original avatar with its native aroma attached, the old market gives visitors a glimpse into past of Qatar.
It also presents some of the most authentic sides of the Qatari culture. Walking through the brick-lined alleys and closely-knit shops manned by men in Toup (traditional Qatari dress) selling everything from eatables to garments, you cannot resist curiosity to know more about the place.
But it is not always easy to find someone who can explain the history and the evolution of the place to you. A native friend might come handy.
Embrace Doha, a one-of-its-kind platform to provide orientation about the local Qatari culture and helping the incoming expatriates better understand the country, is providing you the opportunity to find the “native friends” and learn about Souq Waqif straight from them.
On the 21st of this month, the organisation is holding a tour of Souq Waqif for expatriates, or anyone curious to know more about the old marketplace.
“You will discover Souq Waqif like you have never had before, with Qataris taking you through one of the most authentic places of Doha. Beyond souvenir shops and restaurants, you will learn more about the history of Souq and ask your questions to people who saw it grow and transform,” says Ashok Choudhary, the Communication Manager for Embrace Doha.
The participants can book their place through prior registration. They will be gathered at a pre-decided meeting point in Souq Waqif from where they will be taken through the marketplace by the local Qatari representatives of Embrace Doha.
Through its monthly orientation meetings, the organisation has been regularly introducing expatriates to Qatari culture, local traditions and people. The participants of such events also get to try on the traditional Qatari outfits and taste the local cuisine, learning the complete local etiquette of dressing and food.
“We first orient the participants about the hospitality aspect of the Qatari culture which includes information on how the local people gather in Majlis and treat each other with tea and in exactly what manner is it done,” Chaudhary told Community.
“There are also presentations on the local dresses and outfits besides information on how to dress for different occasions. The session also includes information on what is considered as acceptable outfit in public besides how to approach the local people,” added Ashok.
The participants are then invited to try on the outfit by themselves. The presentations session is followed by a dinner comprising different Qatari dishes. After the dinner, the platform is opened for questions where the participants can ask questions on any aspects of the Qatari culture for better understanding.
The platform aims to provide an outstanding range of cultural services that cater to the needs of clients, both businesses and individuals in Qatar. It intends to provide residents, newcomers, and visitors with sufficient cultural awareness to understand and effectively interact with Qatari society.
The mission of Embrace Doha is to introduce their clients to the values, principles, customs and traditions of Qatar and the Gulf region, to create healthy cross-cultural dialogue between Qataris and non-Qataris based on mutual respect and understanding.
It also aims to reduce misunderstanding, fauxpas, and embarrassment when interacting with Qatari’s besides encouraging tourism in Qatar by familiarising their clients with the country’s landmarks, history, and future ambitions.
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