QDF: Souq Al Matar mixed retail and F&B concept is ‘transit tourism’ in action

By Luke Barras-hill |

Qatar Duty Free says there are options for all shoppers at Souq Al Matar, ensuring the space is appealing and inclusive to customers.

Qatar Duty Free (QDF) has unveiled a blended F&B and retail concept that it claims goes beyond conventional ‘sense of place’.

Located in the north node of Hamad International Airport (HIA), Souq Al Matar offers seven shops and two restaurants developed in collaboration with architect Ibrahim M. Jaidah, renowned for delivering architectural marvels in Qatar such as the Al Thumama Stadium.

Qatar Duty Free Senior Vice President Thabet Musleh commented: “Souq Al Matar underlines that, at Qatar Duty Free, we not only have something for everyone, we have something truly unique.

“This a first-of-its-kind experience in an airport – a truly original concept that goes beyond ‘Sense of Place’ to deliver ‘transit tourism’, bringing Qatar directly to travellers.”

An ode to Qatari heritage and hospitality

Souq Al Matar transports passengers through the humming vibrancy and classical aesthetics of Qatar’s traditional markets, framed by wicker woven ceilings, arched doorways, wooden-framed windows, and other decorative fineries to produce a culturally resonant souq experience.

The collection of shops and dining options at Souq Al Matar are intended to mimic the goods and refreshments typically discovered in the alleys of Qatar’s old markets.

Souq Al Matar – matar translated in Arabic as ‘airport’ – transports travellers to a traditional Qatari souq where they will discover seven shops and restaurants courtesy of Qatar Duty Free located in the north node terminal of Hamad International Airport in Doha.

In a nod to Qatari tradition, a dhow boat is positioned prominently to pay homage to the maritime trade that is interwoven into the historical fabric of the state.

“The execution emphasises our exceptional attention to detail and service, further cementing Qatar Duty Free as a true leader in airport retail and catering,” added Musleh.

A grand opening event for the experiential mixed retail and dining concept was held on Tuesday 12 December.

In attendance were senior officials from QDF and HIA together with VIPs, KOLs and sections of the media.

They enjoyed entertainment from a Naham group performing ‘sea music’, a custom that pearl divers practiced for encouragement and entertainment during their trips.

Meanwhile, an orchestral performance combined melodies past and present composed by renowned Qatar composer and songwriter Dana Al Fardan.

A grand opening held on 12 December drew QDF and HIA officials, including Thabet Musleh, Senior Vice President, Qatar Duty Free (third left) and Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, Group Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Airways.

During the first week of the Souq’s opening, travelling consumers will encounter a range of cultural experiences, including live basket-weaving and Sadu weaving demonstrations.

Guests to the shops and F&B outlets will be welcomed by greeters dressed in traditional Qatari attire serving Arabic coffee (gahwa) and dates – an historic custom signifying warmth and generosity in Qatari culture – and can witness skilled artisans tailoring the bishit (a traditional robe for men) and Henna artist’s fashioning designs on women’s hands.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer commented: “Our goal has always been to ensure that the travel experience at Hamad International Airport remains one of the best in the world.

“Souq Al Matar brings a whole new dimension to passengers, where they can shop, dine, and experience a taste of Qatar without having to leave the airport. We have once again raised the bar of what the airport experience can aspire to be, making it a part of the cultural experience itself, not just a transit hub.”

What will travellers discover?

Khaneenbeautiful smell in Khaleeji dialect – takes customers on an olfactory journey, revealing Qatar’s unique aromas and exquisite blends. The shop features an impressive collection of high-quality fragrances with premium packaging and traditional yet modern scents from home-based designers. The collection at the Souq includes exclusively curated perfume oils crafted with the finest ingredients and traditional elements.

Al Attar offers a special apothecary store experience, where customers can explore an assortment of premium honey, dates, coffees, teas, herbs and spices.

Sogha, a Khaleeji word for travel gifts, is a souvenir shop at the souq that showcases a variety of keepsakes perfect for gifting or personal mementos.

A visually impacting Kabuki drop and projection show displaying a story of time where among the highlights of the grand opening.

Fwala – a Khaleeji word used for a dessert assortment served to house guests – offers a delectable assortment of traditional Qatari sweets, including packaged desserts traditionally enjoyed during special occasions and festive seasons such as Eid. All the brands featured at Fwala are based in Qatar and the products are locally made.

Al Darzi – from the Khaleeji term for tailor or embroiderer – is a women’s fashion shop displaying a wide array of traditional garments including a collection of Jalabeyas, abayas and shilas. The traditional Qatari dress is not only a cultural practice but also an iconic fashion trend for the women of Qatar today.

Al Beshit – a men’s robe worn in the Khaleej during special occasions and celebratory events – is the name of the men’s wear shop at Souq Al Matar and boasts a collection of traditional Qatari clothing including the thobe, gutra, and egal plus other garments that fuses cultural heritage with modern fashion trends.

Dukkan offers a selection of affordable confectionery and snacks, including the renowned Pafki chips and other local delicacies that recreates nostalgia in older generations of Qatari shoppers. Dukkan also features a selection of sweets, toys and drinks regularly found in the local supermarkets of Qatar’s residential areas.

Basta is a modern Qatari concept, serving traditional food with a modern twist. The menu offers a variety of famous dishes from the Khaleeji cuisine, such as Balalit – sweetened thin noodles with saffron and plain omelettes – and the iconic Shakshuka. The menu also includes, Majboos and Biryani, well-known main dishes in the Qatari and Khaleeji cuisine.

Chapati and Karak – Qatar’s recognsied café restaurant concept – was inspired by traditional Indian cuisine and has been a staple of Qatar’s dining scene for more than five decades.

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