Starting Friday, Souq Waqif will kick off a weeklong festival with entertainment, acrobatics, shows, musical performances, and, for the first time, an international wrestling championship.
The latter, dubbed the “Souq Waqif Storm,” will see former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstars and other regional champions compete for the title of victor, during celebrations that run from April 10 to 17.
Over that time period, there will be five distinct entertainment options spread out over the Souq, according to the festival’s online schedule.
At the Majlis Al Dama, a “Dama” competition will take place daily from 4 to 9pm. Also known as draughts or checkers, the game is a popular local strategy board game, where participants compete on a checkered board with moves similar to that of chess.
Meanwhile, a variety of magic shows and street performers, including famous illusionist Alfonso Rios, will entertain audiences alongside stilt walkers and mirror men from 4 to 9pm daily in the Souq Alley, which spans the length of the market.
Rios, who has performed for celebrity clients like Paul McCartney, Prince Charles, Will Smith and Madonna, will showcase musical telepathy, mind reading and archery skills to Doha residents.
The Souq Waqif Arts Center will also host art workshops and other sessions open to the public from 4 to 9pm.
Elsewhere, at the Al Rayyan Theater, childhood canine favorite Scooby Doo and his gang will feature in a new live show titled, The Mystery of the Pyramid.
Shows will be held twice on April 11, 12, and 16 at 3:30 and 6:30pm, and once from April 13 to 15 at 6:30pm. Tickets cost QR50, QR100, QR150, and QR300, and can be bought online here.
For the first time, the Souq will also host a WWE-style wrestling championship, featuring several of the franchise’s most popular and well-known stars.
That includes 50-year-old, 6’3 heavyweight Booker T, who will headline the opening match on Friday, April 10, at 6:30 pm, while fellow WWE ex-superstars Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio will take to the ring on the last day of the championship.
Over 20 wrestlers will take part in the five-day event, with 16 officially competing for the Souq Waqif Storm title.
According to organizers Qatar Pro Wrestling (QPW), a local wrestling event management company that opened in 2011, the two-hour long daily event will feature between five to six scripted and choreographed matches in different formats and for different titles from April 10 to 14.
Tickets to the matches are available online and cost QR50, QR100 and QR300/person for each day. All wrestling will take place at a specially constructed arena at the Al-Ahmed Square facing Fanar.
Speaking to Doha News, QPW co-founder Ali Maarifi said that the event aimed to capitalize on a growing interest for WWE among local audiences.
“We were part of the WWE event that happened here in 2011, which was an enormous success. The show was entirely sold out, people were lining up at the door. It was crazy. When we had our first event in October 2013 at Hyatt Plaza, we saw a similar response.
We didn’t expect the positive feedback and reaction that we got. It was because of that itself that Souq Waqif called us for this event. It’s not just in Qatar, but there’s an interest for wrestling in the entire GCC.”
Other wrestlers will take part in the QPW War Title Matches on April 11 and 14, where current champion Chris Raaber will have to defend his title.
Additionally, on April 14, four wrestlers will compete in a match called “King of Ladders,” climbing ladders and fighting against each other to obtain a belt suspended at a height.
The grand finale of the Souq Waqif Storm Title will take place on the same day, and with the two top qualifiers taking on each other for the grand championship belt.
Afterwards, a special celebrity match between ex-WWE-superstars Alberto del Rio and Rey Mysterio will round up the celebrations.
Interspersed between daily matches will be talk shows and other wrestling-related entertainment segments aimed at introducing the crowd to the sport.
Do you plan to visit the Souq festival? Thoughts?