First look: Al-Mina Market – Ruwais

Shereen D’Souza gets an exclusive first look at the brand-new souk in Al Ruwais Discuss this article

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Arich history of ancient trading and seafaring activities characterises Qatar’s past. Towns in the north of the country, such as Al Ruwais, were some of the largest and most significant settlements before the discovery of oil. Al Ruwais, a small port town in the Al Shamal municipality, is full of historical forts, archaeological sites and beautiful beaches. In addition to the lengthy, scenic drive up – it’s located 127km north of Doha – it has long been on the weekend road trip agenda of many an expat and resident. However, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Mwani Qatar, has been actively striving to develop the area into a maritime hub, and in celebration of its strategic location, has recently opened an interesting marketplace that blends tradition with trade. It also provides an opportunity for traders from around the world to sell their wares in Qatar. Welcome to Al-Mina Market – Ruwais.

1 A space for traders from around the world opens
Sailors and traders dock at Al Ruwais Port from various parts of the world, including Iran and the Indian subcontinent, stay at the port hotel and sell their produce to visitors at the all-new mini souk. Al-Mina Market – Ruwais is a single-storey, sand-coloured building. You can’t really tell that it’s a market until you see the name. There’s a seating area on the left, after you enter the fenced gates, which is expected to become a cafeteria (hurrah) and the souk entrance is to the right.

2 And this marketplace is unlike any other in Doha
This isn’t your typical Doha souk, with its alleyways to gallivant around and myriad products to choose from. Several small stalls that sell a range of items from individual traders are all set up temporarily. The market retains a traditional feel, despite being a newly constructed space, which is refreshing to see. It reminds us of the old local Gulf fish markets we’d visit as a child with our parents (and return with everything other than fish…).

3 Fresh fish is not on the agenda here, but there’s plenty more to purchase
Inside, the market is spacious. There are lots of people milling about. Each stand is around 12 square metres and the traders change regularly. The souk is usually packed at the weekend, both with people buying and with those selling, so weekdays are better for more leisurely browsing. However, during the week, you’ll also encounter fewer stalls. Of the produce on offer, expect to see Iranian tuna, chips, dates, local sweets, spices, dried fruits, nuts, juices and so much more. The most interesting stand we find is a shop selling glow furniture. We’re shown some really fascinating pieces – colour-changing cubes that can be used as seats or coffee tables, glowing chairs and even fountains. A decent-sized glow cube costs roughly QR700. Not bad, we’re thinking. We’re also thinking where exactly we can place that at home…

4 Strategic significance and the importance of future growth
Al-Mina Market – Ruwais is significant in that it reflects the history of trade in the country, an enterprise that once drove the local economy and that dates back to the Middle Ages. Al Ruwais Port will soon become another commercial port in addition to Hamad Port. And it will very soon offer a vital contribution to the revival of the north of the country, both economically as well as demographically.

5 The souk is a one-stop shop and so much more
While this marketplace may not be as fully functional and aesthetically beautiful as some of its more established counterparts, Al-Mina Market is certainly worth the long drive up to Ruwais to pay a visit to. You can check out the beach once you’re done, too, since the
two are so close, or even grab a bite to eat from the several restaurants on the main road. Don’t look at this as just a one-stop shopping destination. Al-Mina Market is suited to those who want to experience foreign products, and also those looking for a leisurely weekend outside of the city. We can’t wait for the Ruwais Port to be completed. We can already see that this place is going to be a real game changer…
Open daily 8am-6pm. Al Ruwais Port (4012 0600).

Four more

Products to pick up at Al-Mina Market – Ruwais

Iranian pofaki
If you grew up in the Gulf your obsession with pofaki will be no secret. Qatar does it really well, but why not switch things up a bit and see what the Iranian version tastes like? We’re almost sure they taste exactly the same. Almost…

Persian carpets
You’ll find the most authentic Persian carpets here. Not least because we know that the traders have brought them all the way from Iran. Whether it’s a dining room rug or just something to liven up your living space, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

Unfiltered honey
It might be a long drive up north just for honey, but you know you’ve been looking for this for a while… And the raw, unfiltered natural honey available at this market will be one of the best versions of the product you’ll buy in Qatar. Thank us later.

Vintage paintings
Your living space might be missing an exquisite painting and you probably don’t even know it. Check out the massive and intricate gold-dusted frames here with interesting artworks inside. Word of advice: do not pair with the glow cube you just picked up…

By Shereen D’Souza
Time Out Doha,

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