Not just the Gulf, but the entire world now has its eyes on Qatar’s capital city of Doha. It is one of the fastest growing economies in the region, host of the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, and an emerging custodian of arts and culture. When you find yourself heading to this metropolis, here’s what you should be doing.
Start your trip with a walk down the seven-kilometre long, vehicle-free Doha Corniche. This waterfront promenade offers spectacular views of the city’s futuristic skyline, while the traditional wooden dhows lining the bay echo tales of Qatar’s rich seafaring past.
One landmark which stands out in the cityscape is the Museum of Islamic Art, which allows you to discover 14 centuries of great art in a couple of hours. From the evolution of ceramic design through the ages to a collection of over 800 manuscripts from the Qur’an, the diverse exhibits at this cultural institution leave you inspired. Another marvellous space for culture enthusiasts is the Katara Cultural Village, home to an open amphitheatre, an opera house, a multi-purpose cinema, and other venues which host year-round programmes of performance shows and exhibitions.
The two UNESCO-recognised locations are also a must-visit in Doha. On Qatar’s north-west coast lies the first, comprising the beautifully restored Al Zubarah Fort, a historic Qatari military fortress which offers you a glimpse into the centuries-old remains of the walled coastal town of Zubarah. The second, situated 60km from Doha in the country’s south-eastern corner, is the inland sea of Khor Al Adaid. A creek surrounded by sand dunes, the region is only accessible through a four-wheel drive vehicle. Here, adventure junkies can revel in sand skiing and quad biking, while picnicking and camping is on the cards, too.
At Pearl-Qatar, peek into Doha’s most sought-after lifestyle destination. This man-made island off the West Bay coast features yacht-lined marinas, residential towers, luxury villas and hotels. Its seaside promenade also houses a range of cafes and restaurants, in addition to international boutiques and showrooms.
W Doha Hotel and Residences: The signature youthful vibe of the W abounds at this hotel, known in the city for its diverse culinary fare—from the Asian ‘Spice Market’ to the modern European ‘Market by Jean-Georges’. To shake things up, make your way to ‘Crystal Lounge’ which spins the hottest DJ sets, or lounge under a cabana with a shisha at the ‘Wahm Lounge’. Four Seasons Hotel Doha: The palatial, 17-storeyed Four Seasons boasts its own private beach, along with nine restaurants and lounges including the world’s largest ‘Nobu’ outpost and a wellness centre spread across three floors. Its 232 guest rooms and 57 suites, most of which come with step-out balconies, offer panoramic views of the city and the West Bay. Ritz-Carlton Doha: Whether it’s the 2,300 Swarovski crystals adorning the largest chandelier in the Middle East or the luxe Tuscan marble used in your bathroom, every little element at The Ritz-Carlton spells opulence. Dining options are plenty, including the poolside snack bar ‘Flamingo’, which features its own waterfall, and the Italian specialty ‘Porcini’, fit for a romantic dinner for two. St. Regis Doha: Located next to Pearl island, the 336 butler-serviced rooms and suites at the St. Regis come with breathtaking views of the sea. It houses the renowned ‘Remède Spa’ which offers tailor-made therapies in their 22 private treatment rooms, in addition to an Olympic-size pool and water-sporting activities—snorkelling, kayaking, speed boating, and more. Marriott Marquis: Featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, a rooftop swimming pool and easy access to City Centre Mall, Marriott Marquis is a centrally-located hotel suited for both business and leisure travellers. The rooms come with all modern amenities expected from a world-class hotel—plush bedding, high-speed wifi and of course, a spa.
A mix of historic souqs and modern malls jazz up your shopping experience in Doha. Here are a few places to go to for your loot:
A visit to Doha is incomplete without understanding the significance awarded to falcons in Qatari culture. See it for yourself at the Falcon Souq, a block of Souq Waqif dedicated to the majestic birds. At the store, most of the falcons are hooded and lined up on their perches. As a matter of fact, some of them even cost thousands of dollars.
Do spare some time to catch up with The Rugman of Doha, who owns the Kashmir Handicrafts Emporium in Al Mirqab Al Jadeed. The Rugman, who hails from Kashmir, is known for his interesting collection of tribal rugs from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Iran, and the tales that accompany them.
|Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar||DOH|