In this article I will tell you about the best places for shopping in Doha, the biggest stores and markets, operating hours, tax-free refunds, and whether there is an Apple store at the Doha airport selling discounted iPhones. This information will help you save money and find the best shopping places in this eastern country.
It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Qatar without these websites
Table of Contents
Shopping in Qatar: General Information
In summary, the most important aspects of shopping in Qatar are:
- Today, Doha offers a huge selection of global brands.
- At the market, also known as the bazaar, you can buy all the standard items typical of the East: spices, incense, carpets, cardamom coffee, and plenty of shiny trinkets.
- Payments in Qatar are only accepted in riyals. No one will accept foreign currency, so it must be exchanged at a bank.
Interesting fact:There is no haggling at the market in Doha. Although it is a classic bazaar, it is more familiar to Europeans. No one will hassle you, drag you to their shop, or raise prices by five times. You can negotiate on the markets of Qatar, but you won’t be able to reduce the price by 2-3 times from the initial price. The usual bargaining range is between 10-20%.
The market in Doha, Souq Waqif, is a civilized version of all bazaars. I like it more than the markets in Egypt or even the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
And don’t forget, Friday is a day off in Qatar! All establishments, including stores and the market in Doha, operate on reduced hours. For example, most establishments only open for lunch on this day. Even the metro only starts operating from 2 pm on Fridays. Learn all about public transport in Doha, routes, prices, and what a tourist should use.
About Tax-Free in Qatar
Here’s a quick answer to a seemingly simple question, but one that tourists frequently ask me about, and I see that most people do not fully understand the mechanism of tax-free refunds, and they all want to get their tax back and save money on their purchases.
What is Tax-Free:Literally, it means “exemption from tax.” You may also hear “VAT refund.” This is the same thing. VAT is the equivalent of our sales tax. Sales tax is included in the price of any item.
How it works: If a foreigner purchases a product (such as an iPhone) and takes it out of the country where it was bought, they can receive a VAT refund, also known as tax-free. Depending on the country and the type of product, the VAT typically ranges from 5-25%. For example, in Singapore, the VAT is 7%. Let’s say you come to Singapore and buy an expensive Prado bag – you can get a refund of around 7% of the cost when you leave the country. It’s a pleasant surprise, so everyone always asks about tax-free, even without understanding what it is and where it comes from.
Unfortunately, tax-free cannot be refunded in Qatar!There are no taxes included in the price of any product here. All businesses have a zero VAT rate, and there is no tax on profits or any other contributions. It doesn’t matter what you buy in Qatar or how much you pay for it – the VAT simply doesn’t exist in the price.
Where to buy an iPhone in Doha
As you may have already realized, it’s not possible to get a tax-free refund on Apple products in Doha, but there is some good news:
- There is an iStore in Doha airport, and it’s located in the transit area, so you can buy what you need even during a short layover. Look for it in the center of the transit zone, where all the terminals start. You won’t miss it – there’s a big yellow bear under a lamp as a landmark.
- Apple products are cheaper in Qatar than in most countries in the world – by about the same amount as the VAT or so. For example, an iPhone that costs $1000 in our country is sold in Doha for $800-850. That’s 15-20% lower. These prices are just for example and to give you an idea of the situation, not a strict mathematical calculation for all Apple products.
You can also buy iPhones at any major telecom store of one of the two Qatari mobile operators. The prices are the same as in the Apple Store, and the phones are not locked. The flagship stores of these operators are located in the City Center Doha mall. I’ll write more about it below.
- In the article at the link, you can read all about mobile communication and internet in Qatar, including information about Vodafone and Ooredoo stores.
The main market in Doha: all about Souq Waqif
For souvenirs, Eastern atmosphere, Arabic spices, shisha pipes, and carpets, you must visit the main market in Doha and all of Qatar – Souq Waqif (Souq means market or bazaar in Arabic).
- The market’s coordinates are 25.28711361065626, 51.53335482140589
- The market is located in the old, historical part of Doha.
- There is a metro station nearby called Souq Waqif (yellow line).
- The market is similar to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, occupying a huge area with covered rows and open-air stalls, in the same buildings that existed 200 years ago.
You can find any souvenir here, even if you’re looking for a falcon for $20,000 or a fridge magnet. It’s the perfect place to find gifts to bring back home.
The market opens at 9 am, but on Fridays, as mentioned above, it opens closer to 2 pm.
Good to know:The market is part of the country’s cultural heritage list. The entire area is open 24/7, and you can come and enjoy the Arab architecture at any time of the day or night. It’s not just a place to buy souvenirs; it’s one of Doha’s top tourist attractions. Check out the link for more things to see in Doha.
- Souq Waqif in Doha also has a huge selection of Arab restaurants and cafes. You can plan your lunch or dinner here.
- Regarding food and restaurant prices in Qatar, that’s a topic for another article, but to summarize, prices at Souq Waqif are average. A meal for two in a restaurant would cost around $40. There are cheaper places to eat, but many places are much more expensive. Check out the link for more information.
The Best Shopping Mall in Doha
If you’re looking for shopping, branded items, a large supermarket, and cool entertainment for kids, then you should head to any major shopping mall in Qatar. It’s needless to say what they are like since everyone knows.
Shopping malls in Qatar are just like those at home, only larger in scale. They have hundreds of shops, food courts, huge supermarkets, cinemas, restaurants, telecom stores, and clothing stores of global brands, all under one roof.
There are about 10 very large shopping malls in Doha. Here are the names and coordinates of the coolest and largest ones.
- Villaggio Mall: 25.259254249117184, 51.44362423586441. A huge complex stylized after European cities. It even has a canal with gondolas, just like in Venice.
- It’s not quite in the center, but the metro goes directly to this shopping mall. The last station (Al Aziziyah) on the yellow line. By the way, the Souq Waqif market is also on the yellow line. It takes about 20 minutes on the metro between them.
- There’s also a large and beautiful park where you can take a walk
- Mall of Qatar: 25.326617083138718, 51.35004652278019. The country’s largest shopping mall. It’s on the outskirts of Doha, but the metro also goes here. The final station Al Riffa Mall of Qatar on the green line.
- And my personal favorite, where I go myself, is one of Qatar’s largest shopping malls: City Center Doha mall: 25.32511656157268, 51.53068618328202. The red line metro, DECC station.
- There’s a giant Carrefour supermarket here.
- The mall is located in the heart of the modern tourist area of West Bay.
- The mall has everything a tourist needs, from groceries and local SIM cards to iPhones.
- There are also plenty of dining establishments. Cheap pre-made cuisine is available.
The Gold Market and Gold in Qatar
And a bit about gold that tourists should know.
Good to know:All Arab countries are known for their cheap gold, and many tourists come here specifically for it, but often end up disappointed. I’ll tell you the truth as it is so that you understand.
Qatar loves gold. Local women are ready to spend all their money on gold jewelry. But the concept of beauty in these jewelry pieces is different for us (Europeans) and them (Arabs). Here’s what you can expect in Doha:
- Gold market in Doha: 25.285699030984198, 51.537408263361456. It’s about 500 meters from Souq Waqif market. There are a hundred shops with gold jewelry.
- Arabs love yellow gold, and the yellower, the better. If our gold has a standard of 14 carats, here the standards are as follows: 18 carats, 21 carats, 22 carats . And you won’t find anything lower. Yes, it means that their jewelry has a high-carat gold, but this gold is softer and brightly yellow in color, and European tourists don’t always like it because it doesn’t look good on untanned and pale skin.
- Although there is jewelry here for every taste, in general, Qatar is into massive and heavy jewelry. If it’s a necklace, it should weigh around 300 grams, and if it’s earrings, each earring should be around 50 grams.
Interesting fact:Although the gold carat is higher in jewelry here, and technically, such products should be more expensive than in our country, prices in Doha are lower. The reason is simple, and it has already been mentioned in this article: there is no VAT or other taxes here, so the prices of gold jewelry are immediately 20%-25% lower than in our countries.
And don’t forget that you can bargain at the gold market in Doha. You can get an extra 10-15% off the advertised price, but not always. In general, Qataris themselves are not particularly fond of bargaining, this is not Egypt.
In conclusion: I hope you now know more about shopping in Qatar and what to expect here. In short, there is no VAT or VAT refund in Qatar, all souvenirs and gifts should be purchased at the Souq Waqif market in Doha, and if you need proper shopping with European brands, then head to one of the large shopping centers, such as City Center Doha.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Qatar
- Flights at the best prices with discounts
- Car rental: Discovery Cars (cheaper – only by bus)
- Hotels and apartments in Doha: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card with internet in Montenegro