In a city with its own Lincoln Center and Cheesecake Factory I was told the most authentic place to go for a feel of true Qatar was the Souq Waqif. From the moment I penetrated the maze of alleyways I was transported away from the neon lights of the nearby Corniche and into another world, where men sit at Shisha lounges playing backgammon while next door the women negotiate perfume prices and kids marvel at the parakeets and falcons for sale around the bend. The spice vendor sweeps the floor and an old man in a red vest wheelbarrows bolts of fabric to a niqab-clad woman’s Cadillac Escalade. The conversations I overhear are in Tagalog, French, Chinese and English. People are quick to offer help when I ask for directions and everywhere I look the streets are spotless. What a layover. .