Explore magical markets around the world

Vice President, Africa at Qatar Airways, Hendrik du Preez said Qatar Airways recognizes that the modern era of air travel revolves around the customer. Pictures: Supplied

Vice President, Africa at Qatar Airways, Hendrik du Preez said Qatar Airways recognizes that the modern era of air travel revolves around the customer. Pictures: Supplied

Published Dec 15, 2023


Long before the rise of malls and online shopping, human commerce thrived in marketplaces for millennia. Markets have always been more than just places to shop; they played a crucial role in the development of language and social structure in early civilizations.

Serving more than 160 destinations worldwide from their hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha, Qatar Airways staff enjoy the privilege of exploring diverse locations. Vice President, Africa at Qatar Airways, Hendrik du Preez, shares his insights about his favourite markets and what to look for when visiting them:

The concept of exploring traditional markets aligns with Qatar Airways’ commitment to offering travellers unique and authentic experiences. Traditional markets transcend shopping; they are vibrant cultural hubs with rich histories. Immersing oneself in the local life and engaging with local vendors fosters a deeper connection with the destination. These markets represent the heart and soul of their regions, making them a unique travel experience that goes beyond typical tourist attractions.

When travellers visit these markets, they can expect to be fully immersed in the local culture. These markets offer a window into the traditions, customs, and ways of life of the local people. Authenticity lies in interactions with local vendors, the sensory experiences of the market, and witnessing age-old practices and crafts. It’s an opportunity to step into the daily lives of the locals and gain a profound understanding of their culture. The Maasai market is always full of great art, and most of it has an African feel. You can get some decent items for a reasonable price in the market. The market also has a good selection of wooden carvings, bowls, baskets, and dolls to bring Kenyan culture into your home.

Built on the site of Doha’s century old trading market, on the banks of the Wadi Musheireb, Souq Waqif feels like an anachronism, particularly against the backdrop of Doha’s dramatic modernist skyline. With its mud-daubed buildings, the market harkens to a bygone era while remaining a hub of activity, where commerce and gossip collide. Souq Waqif’s winding alleys offer a tableau of traditional street life.

Kenya’s capital, Nairobi boasts The Maasai Market, a popular destination throughout East Africa and especially among tourists. The market, named after the Maasai people, sells a wide range of affordable African antiques making it a convergence zone for locals and tourists searching for authentic African artisan products. It is an open-air market with a broad selection of products to shop for, including African pots and pans, artwork, jewellery, shoes, purses, garments, and utensils.

Maasai blankets, also known as Maasai Shukas or Kikois, come in various vibrant colours. The shukas, which carry the Maasai culture, are one of the most incredible ways to remember your trip to Kenya. They can also be used as a bed cover, a picnic blanket, or an extra blanket on a cold day.

The Maasai market is famous for its variety of jewellery, from earrings to bracelets and necklaces, all of which are usually vibrant and come in various colours. You may discover some great and unique products for a reasonable price here. Popular pieces are bracelets adorned with beads in Kenya’s official colours.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of visiting markets worldwide and enjoying countless memorable experiences. One particular story that stands out is my visit to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. There, I stumbled upon a local artisan crafting exquisite jewellery. I not only witnessed the creative process but also acquired a one-of-a-kind piece. These markets provide opportunities to connect with the local community, creating connections that go beyond typical tourist interactions.

Qatar Airways is dedicated to ensuring travellers’ journeys to these markets and all other destinations are seamless and enriching. Our airline offers extensive flight connections to enhance travel experiences. We understand that a memorable journey sets the tone for the entire travel experience. Qatar Airways consistently goes the extra mile to provide unparalleled flying experiences, including the award-winning business class and the revolutionary QSuite.

Entertainment is a vital part of the journey, and Qatar Airways offers world-class entertainment options with 21.5-inch touch-controlled monitors and more than 7 000 menu choices. We also offer exquisite food and beverages to satisfy diverse tastes while cruising at 35 000 feet.

HIA serves as the gateway to Qatar, known for its safety and family-friendly environment. It’s also a quick transfer hub to our 160+ direct destinations.We’ve implemented multiple digital wayfinding solutions at HIA to assist passengers in navigating the airport. Seamless connectivity is key, and we've strategically positioned our base (Hamad International Airport), just a 6-hour flight away from 80% of the world’s population.

Qatar Airways’ crew members often share insider tips with travellers. For example, when visiting Souq Waqif in Doha, we recommend trying traditional coffee (ghawa) and exploring the spice shops for an authentic taste of Qatar. In Osaka’s Kuromon Ichiba Market, consider venturing into less crowded areas to discover hidden gems and unique street food stalls. In Chichicastenango, Guatemala, locals refer to the market as a simple but effective way to feel more connected to the community.

To enhance your experiences, consider guided tours or consult with local experts to fully embrace and enjoy the local culture.

Saturday Star