Hipster cafes make a splash in Qatar - The360 Travel

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  • Saturday, December 14, 2019

    Hipster cafes make a splash in Qatar

    Hipster cafes make a splash in Qatar

    The Doha Tawar Mall looks like many shopping malls that have flourished in recent years in Qatar. But it is the place of a small cultural revolution: a hipster coffee is a sensation.

    At Flat White, guests can order ginger or spice drinks, select coffee beans from Colombia, Tanzania or Peru before sitting down to read a biography of former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser or former US leader Hillary Clinton.

    All in a modern and sleek decor, between large concrete walls, plants and bulbs suspended from the ceiling.

    In the background sounds the sound of machines that handle the baristas, machines whose price is around 3500 dollars each.

    "We did not have that hipster style, which is what was missing in Qatar," says Nasser al-Nuaimi, who co-owns the establishment with his wife Maryam.

    This 35-year-old entrepreneur has developed a passion for coffee during his travels, particularly in the United States.

    He who also works in the insurance industry has tired of hotel rooms where he stopped over during his business trips. When he discovered Western hipster coffee culture, he decided to import it to his country.

    He opened the first Flat White in 2012. There are now three in the Doha region.

    "Our passion"

    "After 17h in Europe, people do not drink coffee but beer. Here coffee is our passion, we drink at any time of the day, "he says.

    His establishment is full of customers, almost all Qataris. Men dressed in traditional white dishdashas and women of long black abayas, in a country where locals barely make up 10% of the population.

    "We love this coffee, the atmosphere, the energy," says Shamma, 19, who drinks a cappuccino while enjoying a cheesecake with her friend Mounira.

    "I went to cafes (like this) in London and it really pleased me. We find the same atmosphere here, "explains this student. "It's more of a lifestyle than drinking a simple coffee."

    Sitting a little further, Mohammed and Jassim, two 34-year-old engineers, say that Flat White made them enjoy a new style of coffee.

    "They pick the grains in special places," says Mohammed.

    "We realized that what we usually drink is not coffee," he says, referring to famous Western brands.

    Arab coffee has been a symbolic drink of regional culture for thousands of years.

    According to Jassim, people still drink a lot, but prefer to prepare it at home.

    Because in Qatar, the energy drink is far from cheap. For a Chemex coffee made in a special glass container, it costs 26 Qatari riyals (about $ 9).

    Doha is the world's most expensive cup of coffee, with an average cost of 5.5 euros ($ 8.45), according to a recent study by the financial services group UBS.

    First vegan restaurant

    In recent months, coffee shops have proliferated in Doha - no official figure is however available on their exact number. In Qanat District, an upscale district that houses a replica of the canals of Venice, signs such as Volume and Artist Cafe were created.

    This wave hipster is not limited to coffee, since a shop specializing in breakfast cereals and the first vegan restaurant in the country have also opened their doors.

    Qatari-owned coffee shops have even sprung up in London's Mayfair district - nicknamed the 'Qatar Quarter' by the British press - as well as a gourmet burgers' restaurant near the Harrods department store.

    The Gulf crisis, which saw four Arab countries impose an embargo in Qatar, also had an impact: Qatar now wants to open its first coffee roasting plants, to reduce the country's dependence on imports and respond at the high demand.

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