Wholesale Market

Market in Doha

If you have an hour to spare, head to Doha's hub for sales of produce, fish and meat. It’s worth visiting just for the sideshows: cockerels unbagged in a flourish, children tugging at rabbit ears, hooded peregrines balancing on a white-robed arm and women in black picking their way through the mayhem of one of the great bazaars of modern times.

There's also a livestock market, which may be of interest to anyone who hasn’t seen pink, yellow and lime-green chicks before. Why the birds are dyed is a mystery of the region. Fortunately, they leave the spotted guinea fowl, ring-necked parakeets, African greys and cut-throat zebra finches untinged – possibly because the plumage of these domestic birds is outrageous enough already.

The day before an eid (Islamic feast), the market heaves with goat buyers, camel traders and sheep shoppers, all looking for a suitable eid supper, but the animals are well shaded and watered, and respect for the livestock is shown by much inspection of teeth and smoothing of coats.

It's all a world away from the sanitised experience of a Western supermarket meat counter, but it is very much part of the Middle East, repeated in similar scenes from Yemen to Kuwait.