What to bring as a gift from Doha to your family, friends, or colleagues? Which Qatari souvenirs will be special and unique? I will tell you what to buy, prices, where to look for Qatari trinkets, and whether you need to haggle. After reading this article, you will have a complete idea of souvenirs in Doha and your own list of must-buy items.
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Qatari souvenirs: general information
Below are general points that will somehow affect you when searching and buying souvenirs in Qatar.
- Qatar’s currency is the riyal. Prices for goods, payment, and negotiation are only in riyals. All about Qatar’s currency, where to exchange, what the exchange rate is, where you can pay by card, a banknote of 22 riyals, in the article by the link.
- All Qatari souvenirs, the widest selection, the lowest prices, only at the Souq Waqif market: 25.28755455271298, 51.53278669885302. This is the main market in Doha and one of the country’s top attractions. Even if you just want a magnet, this is the place to go.
- For those who are not just looking for a magnet but want to buy a souvenir in Qatar for several thousand dollars, for example, a carpet, remember that there are no taxes, VAT in the country. And since there is no VAT, tax-free refunds are impossible here.
On the assortment of souvenirs in Qatar:There is a slight disappointment here. Since there are no truly Qatari souvenirs. The selection is vast, but everything is absolutely the same as in other eastern countries. Spices, fabrics, tobacco and hookahs, Aladdin lamps, and inlaid camel figurines. Everything sold at the bazaars of Egypt, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, is all the same here.
One advantage of the Qatari market is that the service is not as pushy as in other eastern countries. They don’t pester tourists here, they don’t drag you by the hand. There is haggling, but sellers are reluctant to bargain, and you won’t be able to cut the price in half or even by two or three times. And you should start bargaining when you buy at least a few souvenirs in one store. In general, for those who do not like intrusive service, they will like Souq Waqif in Doha, everything is very calm here.
What to bring as a gift from Doha: a list of souvenirs
Let’s go through the list of Qatari souvenirs in order, as I mentioned earlier. Most of these items are typical of any Eastern country. Below is a list of what tourists usually bring back home as gifts:
- Magnets: there’s a huge selection available, with a standard price starting at 10 QAR ($3).
- Camel figurines and Aladdin lamps: starting at $5.
- Arabian prayer beads, which European tourists often buy: starting at $5.
- Souvenir plates, mugs, and figurines featuring Qatar’s iconic Spiral Mosque: starting at $5.
- Arabian hand-painted ceramics. These are not just decorative items but also functional dinnerware. Prices for a medium-sized plate start at $7, while a small set for two can cost $30-$50.
- Gold and gold jewelry. It’s a separate topic, about prices, peculiarities of local gold, and how to transport it across the border in the article: Qatar stores and shopping. There you can also learn about luxury world brand stores.
- Spices, tea, coffee. The selection here is limitless, as are the prices. However, the usual price for standard spices and coffee is $5-10 for 100g. What you need to remember when buying such gifts:
- Arabic coffee is roasted with cardamom, which is quite specific.
- Also, coffee beans contain a lot of oils that are harmful to coffee machines. The burrs break down quickly, and you will need to repair them. It’s best to buy whole coffee beans for manual grinding and make coffee in a cezve.
- If you see beautiful packages with herbal blends, always clarify what they are for. Not everything is tea, much of it is for decoration or incense. Tourists are especially fond of dried roses and lavender.
- Saffron on the market is not real, and it’s not Qatari. It doesn’t grow in Qatar! It’s artificially grown in Iran. The price is $5 for 1g ($5000 for 1kg).
- In the Souq Waqif market, you can find everything for hookahs (tobacco, charcoal), and even the hookahs themselves. I don’t know who is buying them now, but 15 years ago, they were all brought from Egypt. If you want, you can buy a small and beautiful one. But choose carefully, there is a lot of low-quality products from China. Prices for hookahs start at $20 for a souvenir one, and a good one costs at least $50.
- As for clothing, Qatar is not like Central Asia with its colorful prints. There are two types of beautiful clothing here. For men, it’s the white thobe, and for women, the most beautiful color is black, and that’s the abaya.
- Arabian perfumes are also popular. We used to bring them from Turkey and Egypt. They smell great, and it’s up to you where to use them. Locals say you can apply them to your skin, but my wife doesn’t do it because she doesn’t know the ingredients. Prices start at $10 for a 100ml bottle.
I’m often asked about the white desert truffle. Let me tell you, it doesn’t grow in Qatar, but it grows in neighboring Saudi Arabia. Sometimes you can find it in the market, it looks like a potato and is called “zubaidi”. It’s the equivalent of the classic black truffle, which is harvested, for example, in Croatia. Only the white truffle is cheaper, and its aroma is softer and more neutral, so it’s used in some Arab dishes.
This truffle has a seasonality, it’s harvested in the winter months when it’s cooler in the desert. One truffle is enough for a family dish, and prices are around $10 each. Again, it’s not a Qatari souvenir, but it’s quite original.
In fact, there’s only one good advice: before traveling to Qatar, learn the Arabic numerals from 0 to 9. Specifically the original Arabic numerals, not our 1,2,3,4.
- Prices are often written in Arabic numerals on the market deliberately, as tourists don’t know them. As a result, tourists from Arab countries buy at the prices written, while European tourists often pay the inflated prices quoted by the seller.
- In terms of scams and deception, Qatar is absolutely safe, there’s nothing to worry about. But scamming a tourist for a couple of bucks at the market can happen in any country, even at home.
- You can find everything you need to know about the language in Qatar, the minimum vocabulary required, peculiarities, English in Qatar, and the Arabic numerals themselves in the article linked.
In conclusion: souvenirs in Qatar are a standard set of gifts from the whole Middle East. There aren’t any souvenirs that are a symbol of the country and immediately recognizable as being from Qatar. The country is small and imports almost everything, including souvenir products. Most souvenirs in Qatar are made and imported from neighboring countries. However, the selection is quite large, the prices are reasonable, and you won’t leave without a gift to take home.
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