Best shopping in Doha

New malls, bargain finds and independent boutiques in Doha Discuss this article

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You don’t need us to tell you that this city isn’t exactly a bargain-hunter’s dream. But with a little bit of retail know-how, you can make it one. With the opening of three huge, new malls on the horizon, we’ve compiled this handy guide to shopping in the city. We've found what’s new, what’s old (but still worth seeking out), give tips on how to save money on that dreaded weekly shop, plus share where to go to find fashion that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Mall’s the word

Alhazm


You might have driven past the majestic Alhazm mall on Al Markhiya Street. Recently named one of the world’s “coolest and most cultured new malls” by the New York Times, we're not surprised that this incredibly grand new addition is already picking up global recognition. Designed to imitate the stunning 19th-Century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, it’s a combination of Tuscan marble, cavernous, domed glass ceilings and stunning hand-carved arches adorned with traditional Arabian motifs. Outside, the building is surrounded by manicured gardens full of fountains and gazebos, and rows upon rows of olive trees imported from Spain.

Little information has been officially released – the mall is slated to officially open this month, but no official date has yet been announced – but rumour has it that it will contain not only shops and boutiques, but also a library of classical Arabic and English texts and an underground auction house.
www.alhazm.com.

Tawar Mall
Ripe for exploring, Tawar is a mall of firsts. You may not expect it of an opening that has been somewhat overshadowed by the fuss surrounding Mall of Qatar, but this Duhail-based shopping centre will have more than 300 shops and restaurants (59 of which are debuting in Qatar for the first time), including the likes of Gautier, Högl, Joe’s Crab Shack, Max Burger, Real Madrid, Spar Hypermarket and Villa Queen.

It will also be the first mall in the country to incorporate a traditional souq. An entire section of the mall will be built to imitate Qatari architecture, with shop spaces dedicated to small businesses selling local and regional wares.

There’s no need to worry about encountering the same old food court outlets either. Instead, shoppers will be able to head to the luxury food court or the mall’s panoramic restaurant – though details of these developments are still to be revealed.

Musical water fountains, a boutique hotel, a 12-screen cinema and a family entertainment zone will all feature once the mall is up and running.
www.tawarmall.qa

Mall of Qatar
Slated to open at the end of the month, this is the biggest mall opening the city has seen… Ever. This mega mall is on another level in terms of size. Its 5.4 million square feet of space will be home to 500 stores and 100 food outlets, many of which will be opening for the very first time in Qatar.

From high street brands like H&M to high-end labels at Paris Gallery, Mall of Qatar is bringing everything (really, everything) under one roof. Shop for toys at world-famous Hamelys, before browsing supercars at Bugatti, or head to Karisma Cosmetics to pick up the latest beauty products and Yves Delorme to choose luxury linens.
But the range of shops isn’t the most impressive thing about this new opening (after all, we never doubted that the shopping experience would be second-to-none).

What we’re more impressed by is the mall’s entertainment factor. For starters, the 19-screen Cineplex will include 4D projection technology, a 3D IMAX screen, and seven VIP screens. There will also be an eight-lane bowling alley, and a huge family entertainment complex where Kidzmondo (a play area set up as a mini city) will be located. For the older kids, XtremeLand will bring plenty of games and rides.

The mall’s five-star hotel won't be just another run-of-the-mill mid-range Hilton property, either. Developed as part of the brand’s Curio collection, expect a unique, design-led luxury hotel with character.

The central hub of the mall – dubbed The Oasis – will be home to a resident performance troupe who will perform shows combining dance, acrobatics and vocals on a 360-degree, rotating, lifting stage with full theatrical sound and lighting, plus animated water features. We know. Take us there now.
www.mallofqatar.com.qa.


Mall of Qatar in numbers

20 Million annual shoppers expected

5.4 Million square feet

16,500 Square meteres for the family entertainment complex

14,000 Square metre Carrefour mediterranean concept store

7,000 parking spaces

2,600 seat theatre

360° Rotation stage

500 stores

100 food outlets

30 first-time restaurant openings

19 cinema screens

8 bowling alleys

1 five-star hotel

1 3D Imax screen

Boutique buys

April Textiles Qatar
Everyone already knows that Souq Waqif is full of dusty shops, selling anything and everything from henna to suitcases and industrial-sized cooking utensils. But April Textiles is far from being just another tiny space stuffed with pashminas. This lovely little shop is a bright and tidy breath of fresh air in an otherwise often hectic shopping experience.

While they do sell shawls, you should visit to pick up one of the authentic, soft peshtemals from Morocco and Turkey. Stone-printed or hand-woven, they are brightly coloured, super absorbent and super soft (the Bohem peshtemals are made with cotton and bamboo).

Trust us, there's no going back to your regular old terrycloth bath towels after picking up one of these. You can also get your hands on classic Turkish souvenirs, sourced from the souqs of Istanbul like ceramic magnets, Turkish eye ornaments and natural olive oil soap in beautiful Ottoman tins.
Open Sat-Thu 9am-noon, 4pm-9pm; Fri 4pm-9pm. 370, Hareem Souq, Souq Waqif (no number).

Ghassan’s Green Door

This little trove of antique furniture has been around for more than 20 years. Its current location is a quiet little villa in Al Sadd, distinguishable, you may have guessed, by a green gate. The veranda is packed with benches, doors (and even an old US army cabinet) and, once inside, the whole villa is similarly crammed with furniture and knick-knacks. What was once a living room is now piled high with plush Iranian carpets, antique Arabian coffee pots and brightly hued wall tapestries. Pick up stunning wooden cabinets covered in delicate Chinese murals, candelabras, throws, lamps and more. Much of the antique furniture is sourced in India, Syria and Jordan, and then restored or re-purposed. Prices vary wildly from the thousands to just QR25, though the amiable shopkeeper will sometimes offer deals (and tea or coffee to sip on while you browse).
Open Sat-Thu 9.30am-9.30pm, Fri 4pm-8pm. Cash only. Al Rabban Villas, Al Kinana Street. www.facebook.com/ghassansgreendoor (4443 7448).

Origins Qatar
There are plenty of places in Doha to pick up vibrant, ethnic furniture, but Origins Qatar caters to a different market. It specialises in modern, beautiful and comfortable European pieces. The store began in 2008 when its owners moved to Qatar and struggled to find beautiful, quality furniture. They know that great furnishings don’t come cheap, but for what you get, prices at Origins aren’t half bad.

It has all the essentials – sofas, beds, curtains, mattresses, headboards, armchairs – but manufactured and designed to a higher standard than most retailers in the city. Everything is handmade, which means if something isn’t in stock it could take a couple of weeks to get to you. But return-on-investment is high (i.e. a bed that won't collapse under you two weeks later), and they will even make you a cappuccino while you browse.
Call ahead to book a visit. Al Nuaim Street near Qatar University, for full directions and a map, www.originsliving.com (6644 3688).

Shanzelize Palace
We’ve featured this mad little antique emporium many a time, and will continue to do so. It really is a place to visit at least once before you leave the city. You’re bound to find things buried in its dusty depths that you never even knew you needed (Princess Diana tea set, anyone? A taxidermied stingray, perhaps?).

It’s ideal for picking up bits and bobs of home décor, whether you want to add a vintage tea tin to your kitchen, or jazz up a wall with an antique clock. There are piles of rusty keys, vintage tills, old clocks, watches, typewriters, antique cameras, collectible coins and stamps, and even a bunch of un-opened 7up cans and Coke memorabilia that doesn’t actually look particularly antique. No matter how often you visit, you’re bound to unearth the unexpected here.
Open daily 10am-11pm. Mirqab Al Jadeed Street, Al Nasr, next to Thai Snack (no number).

The Rug Man

You can’t very well live in the Middle East without owning at least one beautiful hand-woven rug. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a rug-shopping veteran, this little haven of tribal patterns and prints is a great place to find exactly what you’re looking for. Turn to page 80 to find out more.
Open Sat-Thu 9.30am-1pm, 4.30pm-10pm. Al Nasr Street (5555 3407/3396 2977).

VCUQatar Design Shop
What began as a hub for students’ books and materials has become a fully fledged art and design store that’s open to the public. Stock is mostly made up of crafty bits and pieces – like miniature models to paint by Elephant Parade – but you can also pick up jewellery, accessories, and unique handmade items for kids and adults alike. Ideal for last-minute gifts, and anyone who loves getting stuck into a new craft project.
Open Sun-Thu 9am-5pm. Education City, Qatar Foundation (4402 0555).

High-fashion finds

Impression
What we love most about Impression boutique is its unique collection of bags and accessories. Browse gulf-inspired apparel, even including kitsch little bags shaped like a slightly creepy metallic My Little Pony head. If you’re looking for something quirky to jazz up an outfit, you’ll find it here – albeit at a fairly high price.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri 3pm-10pm. Parcel 1, Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar (4472 7705).

Salam Department Store
The place to go for big luxury brands, from Balmain and Valentino to Tom Ford and Yves Saint Laurent. Everything is under one roof, including evening wear, casual clothing, accessories, beauty products and homeware for men, women and children.
Open daily 10am-10pm. The Gate Mall, West Bay (4448 5555).

The Closet Qatar
This little luxury boutique is located on The Pearl-Qatar, with an outlet store in Freej Bin Mahmoud. A place for statement Sophia Webster shoes rather than shoestring budgets, head here for Edie Parker clutches and embellished evening gowns by Christian Siriano, among other high-end designers. You’ll find couture dresses next to smart separates, and this is a great place to dig out one-of-a-kind pieces and discover new designers.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-10pm Fri 4pm-10pm. Unit 117, La Croisette 7, Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar (4441 0110). Other location: Al Mana Complex Towers, Suhaim Bin Hamad Street, Freej Bin Mahmoud (4442 2218).

The Vanity Room 90% off sale
The Vanity Room does have a physical store, but you can also order online with free delivery. It stocks cool brands-of-the-moment like Sass & Bide and House of Holland and up-and-coming designers like Emma Cook – jeans, t-shirts, dresses, jackets, statement jewellery and more. Their website currently has a clearance sale of up to 90 percent off on old season pieces.
Building 6, Al Qarn Street 879, West Bay, www.vanityqatar.com (7734 3259).

Bag a bargain

Adidas factory outlet
Factory outlets are few and far between in Doha, but Adidas has one right in the heart of the city, just beside Jaidah flyover. Get otherwise-expensive sportswear, trainers and equipment for highly discounted prices.
Open Sat-Thu 9.30am-10pm, Fri 2pm-10pm. Salwa Road, next to Jaidah Flyover (4427 8102).

Daiso
You don’t need to love bargain-hunting to love this cheap and cheerful Japanese shop. There’s aisle, upon aisle, upon aisle of knick-knacks, kitchen bits, beauty products, toys, stationery, DIY-supplies – you name it. The list goes on… and on, and on. Almost everything is either brightly coloured or novelty-shaped, but it’s not as tacky as you might think. You can find some genuinely tasteful homeware here for less than QR10. In fact, most items are just QR7.
Open Sat-Wed 9am-10pm, Thu 9am-11pm, Fri 2pm-11pm. Hyatt Plaza Mall, Al Waab (4469 8999). Other location: Al Khor Mall, Al Khor (4479 0788).

Dollar Plus

If you're looking for an anything-and-everything, one-stop shop, Dollar Plus in City Centre Doha is your place. It stocks a mish-mash of all the odd bits and bobs that you always seem to need but can never find (if you've ever tried to track down double-sided wall tape, you'll know what we're talking about), from tool kits and electrical tape to cleaning supplies, kitchenware and kitsch plastic hair accessories. There's an entire wall dedicated to brightly coloured flip-flops, a snack aisle, a huge section of stationery, and an even bigger area for kids' toys. Stock changes constantly so there's always plenty to rummage through (more than 10,000 items, to be exact). Their prices may not be exactly a dollar, but they are still lower than almost everywhere else, so this is one place where you can impulse-buy to your heart's content and hardly make a dent in your wallet.
Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu and Sat 10am-midnight, Fri 3pm-midnight. City Centre Doha, West Bay (7478 5161).

Farmers' markets
It’s worth making the trip out of the city to Al Mazrouah Yard in Al Khor, or Al Dhakira yard in Al Wakrah for Doha’s farmers’ markets, which have exploded in popularity over the past couple of years. Stalls stock fresh produce, fish and even livestock from local farms, much of which is far fresher and far cheaper than big-brand supermarkets. We hear that markets will also be operating at two more locations this year – though so far these are to be confirmed – when the markets begin again in November.
Open Nov-May, Thu-Sat, 7am-5pm. For Al Mazrouah Yard market, take the Al Mazrouah Intersection, turning off at Al Shamal Expressway and follow the signs.

Fish market
Round the corner from the Wholesale Market in Abu Hamour is the fish market. Most of what you can buy here has come straight off the morning’s dhows, so get there early to have your pick of the freshest catch. Time your visit right, however, and you may be able to get better bargains from vendors trying to sell off the last of their stock. On a visit one early afternoon, most of the traders were packing up, but we were offered a huge salmon that could feed at least five for just QR25. You don’t need to worry about the faff of gutting and cleaning your fish, either. Just take it over to the “fish cleaning” section and have it prepped for a small fee. Just don't visit in sandals as the floor tends to be very wet and, well, it’s a fish market, you see.
Off Salwa Road, Abu Hamour.

Najma’s flea market

Fridays and Saturdays at Najma Souq are a hive of activity thanks to the weekly flea market. Most of the vendors pedal clothes (for roughly QR2 per item) and household bits and bobs, piled up in mountains on top of blankets. For cheap, practical basics, you’re bound to find something to buy. In addition to clothes, if you happen to be in the market for a quadbike or a pram, you'll also be able to find those here. Obviously...
Between Al Arab Street and Al Mansoura Street, behind Crowne Plaza Doha – The Business Park.

Wholesale Market

Head here for a bargainous stock-up of vibrant fruit and veg for far less than your local supermarket. Kilos and half-kilos of produce cost as little as QR2 and there's everything from butternut squash to courgette and fresh herbs. Fruit is pricier, but the quality won’t disappoint. Haggling is possible, but all stalls sell for roughly the same price, so your best bet for a bargain is to buy multiple items from one stall and negotiate a nice round number. For around QR5 you can also hire a porter with a trolley.
Off Salwa Road, Abu Hamour.

Museum gift shops
We love Doha’s museums for more than just their incredible art collections. The gift shops of the Museum of Islamic Art, QM Gallery Al Riwaq and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art all have similar collections of beautiful art-inspired homeware, stationery and accessories, plus plenty of books on Arabian art and design. You can pick up some really special bits and pieces, and this is a particularly good place to go if you’re after gifts for friends and family back home.
www.qm.org.qa.

No time to shop? No problem.
Doha Sooq has teamed up with Grand Mart to offer a home delivery grocery shopping service. The control freaks among you may prefer to be in charge of the fruit and veg selection process, but for everyone else, this is the best thing to happen to Doha’s supermarket scene since… pretty much ever.
It doesn’t need much – if any – explaining. Browse everything you’d usually find in a supermarket online, add to your virtual shopping cart and schedule your delivery.
www.dohasooq.com/online- supermarket.html.

Supermarket Sweep

No-one likes a supermarket shop. The endless aisles; the frustration when a crucial sauce for your favourite stir-fry isn't available. From big chains to lesser-known regional supermarkets, we weigh up the pros and cons of where to do your weekly shop.

Carrefour
Best for:
Affordable own-brand products
French chain Carrefour has perhaps the highest profile of all of Qatar’s supermarkets, thanks to its prime locations in the biggest and busiest shopping malls. A large proportion of the shop is given over to clothes, which are cheap and cheerful. There’s also a large electronics and household section, which is always busy, though on close inspection, objects on display are not always available.

In terms of food, on the other hand, LuLu’s is usually large and well-stocked. A particular strength is its own-brand products, which offer excellent value, including a good range in the refrigerated section of part-baked bread, yoghurts and puddings. Imports are pricey (and disappear and reappear at random), but there are plenty of local and regional products to make up for this. There are also sections dedicated to products from countries like The Philippines, Japan and Mexico. Unfortunately, however, the fresh produce section can be a disappointment, with many items appearing to be past their best. Fine for soups, stews and sauces; frustrating if you’re partial to a fresh salad.
Open Sat-Thu 8am-midnight; Fri 8am-11am, 12.30pm-midnight. Various locations including City Centre Doha, West Bay (4800 7323).

Family Food
Best for:
Fruit and veg
The outside of Family Food on Airport Road is pretty run-down and off-putting. Inside, however, it’s a different story. It’s a brightly lit, well-ordered store with a good range of produce. The pricing is chaotic; most goods are individually tagged, but not all. Some price tags are nowhere to be seen. The bakery is very appealing and there’s a hot food section that looks better than most. Fruit and vegetables are well presented and seem good value, and there’s a surprisingly wide selection of American products, too. Not the cheapest supermarket, but certainly good value.
Open Sat-Thu 7.30am-midnight; Fri 7.30am-10.30am, 12.30pm-11pm. Various locations including Airport Road (4462 2722).

Food Palace
Best for:
Stocking up on Asian and Indian products
There are several branches of this supermarket, but we think the best one is on Salwa Road in Msheirib. It’s a pretty cramped little place, and not the the tidiest nor the cleanest you’ll come across, but it has a fantastic range of ingredients for Indian and South East Asian cooking. Get bumper bags of spices, all manner of flours, rice, grains and noodles, plus plenty of curry pastes and sauces. There’s a pretty good fruit and veg section, too, which is cheap and, on the whole, pretty fresh.
Open daily 7am-midnight. Al Sadd, behind Royal Plaza (4443 3544). Other location: Salwa Road.

Géant
Best for:
Fruit and veg
Géant’s flagship Doha store is in Hyatt Plaza. It’s on two levels, the top offering an excellent range of household goods and electronics and a large toy section; the lower stocking clothes, household goods, garden furniture and food. There’s a very good bakery and fish counter, and an equally good fruit and vegetable section. The produce looks great and is, for the most part, reasonably priced. On the downside, imports are hit-and-miss. British imports in particular can be thin on the ground, so expats missing home foods may be disappointed. In general, however, it’s a well-stocked, good-value option we'd recommend
Open Sat-Thu 8am-midnight; Fri 8am-11.45am, 12.30pm-midnight. Various locations including Hyatt Plaza, Al Wabb (4020 9666).

LuLu Hypermarket
Best for:
Value and variety
One of the biggest supermarkets, LuLu is almost unbeatable when it comes to its range of goods. The department store upstairs has clothes, toys, electronics, household goods and more, while downstairs is almost exclusively dedicated to food. Lulu’s particular strength is in imported goods – wherever you come from in the world, you’ll probably find your favourite brand here. Its range of authentic Indian ingredients and meat alternatives is also one of the best, while its fruit and vegetable section is varied, seems fresh and looks appealing. Prices are very competitive, especially if you’re willing to forgo big-name brands. This means it can get extremely busy at weekends.
Open Sat-Thu 8am-midnight, Fri 8am-10.30pm. Various locations including Gharaffa (4407 4000).

Megamart
Best for:
Imports
This supermarket’s USP is its range of imports from around the world, particularly from the US, Australia and the UK. Shop for home brands and it’s likely to put the squeeze on your wallet. The costs of the basics, however, aren’t significantly more expensive than elsewhere. It’s a small store, so there isn’t much variety, but if you’re dead-set on buying the washing powder you use back home, head here.
Open Sun-Thu 8am-11pm; Fri 8am-11.30am, 12.30pm-11pm. The Centre, Salwa Road (3348 0710). Other location: Megamart Express in Al Rayyan.

Monoprix
Best for:
Unusual organic produce
This high-end French supermarket chain is a full-on department store. Wind your way around home wares, beauty products and even clothing to get to the really good stuff: the food. Aisles of imported products await, many of which are straight from France, and this includes shelves and shelves boasting obscure (for Doha, anyway), organic and gluten-free items. Towards the back there’s cheese, fresh fish, meat and an array of beautiful fruit and veg. Sure, it’s pricier. But, for health-conscious buyers looking to keep up strict diets it’s worth it. Where else in Doha would you find rambutans, quinoa and brown miso in the same, accessible place?
Open Sat-Thu 8am-10pm; Fri 8am-11.30am, 1pm-10pm. Palm Towers, West Bay (4414 6642).

Spinneys
Best for:
The health-conscious
This is more of a luxury establishment than a bargain basement, but very popular among many families. Some fruit, for example, is almost double the price it is in other supermarkets. Quality and freshness, however, is the reward you get for shelling out more. When it comes to imported goods, its recent partnership with the British supermarket giant means you can now find Tesco own-brand products here in Qatar – though the cheap-in-England Tesco Value range is far pricier, especially when weighed up against other brands on shelves.
Spinneys excels when it comes to catering to a wide range of diets and lifestyles. It has a Healthy Living range of organic products, as well as gluten-free items, nut milks, superfoods, grains like quinoa and even antibiotic-free meat.
Open Sat-Thu 8am-11pm; Fri 8am-am, 12.30pm-11pm. Various locations including The Pearl-Qatar (4495 3876).

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

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