The souq is a historic building, which was reconstructed in 2004 because its walls began falling. The traditional souq still remains a trademark of Qatar’s heritage. Thousands of people visit the expansive souq everyday to shop at its hundreds of stores that sell traditional Middle Eastern clothes and spices in clay-like alleys. In the heart of the simple architecture of the souq, are varieties of restaurants that serve Middle Eastern, Asian, European and as well as international cuisines.
Other than the food and the sheesha or hookah, Souq Waqif’s pet stores are one of the main attractions. What some people don’t realize is the bad treatment the animals recieve in the stores. Animals such as birds and rabbits are colored in pink, blue, yellow or green to make the animals look more attractive to visitors. In many cases, you see different animals put together into one box, for example, you may see birds and hamsters in one cage. Some animals are put onto open plates to showcase for people. The plates are so high off the ground that if an animal fell off, it would be injured. During my visit to the souq, a rabbit fell off the plate to the ground and it took it a couple of minutes to move again. Only after I pointed out that the rabbit fell off the plate that the salesman bothered to pick him back up. Right above the plate of rabbits or cats, hangs a Parrot that poops on the animals right below it. The animal cages are overcrowded – too small in size for the number of animals. Some cages are even too small for one animal. It reminds me of the 1400s when so many slaves where put into a ship from Africa to the Americas but once they arrived, the majority of the slaves were dead. Many of the animals in these cages are either dead or dying. They’re left in the most unhealthy conditions. The cages are so dirty that you can see rust and yellow scum on the interior and exterior. The plate of food the animals eat from is filled with animal urine and poop.
Many people complain of buying animals from the stores that die after a few days. Some even discover that the animals are not vaccinated although the salesmen claim that the animals are. The animals are usually seen in the most fatigued conditions, either sleeping or lying around in their cages instead of moving and playing around. The animals are left out in the heat where in the summer it can reaching up to 55 degrees Celsius.