4 Hours In …

From an­cient souks and desert out­ings to sleek sky­scrapers, the mul­ti­fac­eted cap­i­tal of Qatar of­fers a world class mix

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE -

Doha

1 THE COR­NICHE Get­ting around Doha on your own can be tricky since taxis are scarce, bus ser­vice is limited and rail trans­port is still a thing of the fu­ture. Since Doha’s most popular sights tend to be 5:00 PM as life re­turns to the city fol­low­ing the af­ter­noon fam­i­lies ar­rive, set up their pic­nic chairs and re­lax in the cool air, watch­ing tra­di­tional wooden fish­ing dhows ply the har­bor against the back­drop of mod­ern high-rise Doha. 2 MU­SEUM OF IS­LAMIC ART

At the south end of Is­lamic her­itage takes cen­ter stage with the Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art. This im­pres­sive 485,000-square-foot struc­ture, de­signed by Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can ar­chi­tect I.M. Pei, houses a world-class col­lec­tion of art span­ning 13 cen­turies. On dis­play, vis­i­tors will find mas­ter­pieces that in­clude manuscripts, ceram­ics, metal, glass, ivory, tex­tiles, wood and pre­cious stones. The col­lec­tion spans three con­ti­nents, in­clud­ing coun­tries through­out the Mid­dle East, and reach­ing spread out, you might con­sider a car and a driver.

Start out with a stroll along the Cor­niche, the 4-mile stretch of water­front prom­e­nade around which Doha is grow­ing. The Cor­niche is dot­ted with mon­u­ments his­tory, such as the gi­ant oys­ter shell with a pearl inside that hear­kens back to the coun­try’s pearl-div­ing roots.Your stroll – and vir­tu­ally any sight­see­ing in Doha, in­clud­ing the souqs – is best un­der­taken after

as far as Spain and In­dia. On the ground floor you will find a ded­i­cated pearl ex­hi­bi­tion. Ad­mis­sion is free; open Sun­day, Mon­day, Wed­nes­day 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM, Thurs­day and Satur­day 12:00n – 8:00 PM, Fri­day 2:00 – 8:00 PM, closed Tues­days.Visit mia.org. qa for more in­for­ma­tion. 3

DOHA CITY CEN­TRE At the other end of the Cor­niche is Doha City Cen­tre. Though other malls in the coun­try due to open soon may claim the ti­tle of Cen­tre is still the reign­ing champ and gives a good in­tro­duc­tion to the wealth of the coun­try, plus a chance for some great peo­ple-watch­ing. Over 250 stores cater to both lo­cal pref­er­ences – with gleam­ing gold and sil­ver­ware, lush car­pets, and man­nequins adorned in long, flow­ing ab­bayahs – to­gether with more in­ter­na­tional tastes, re­flected in out­lets over­flow­ing with the hottest tablets, mo­bile phones and de­signer jew­elry. The five-story City Cen­tre also fea­tures an in­door wa­ter park, ice skat­ing rink in the cen­ter of the mall and more. To find out more visit city­cen­ter­doha.com. 4

SOUQ WAQIF After you’ve had your fill of 21st cen­tury shop­ping, a jaunt to Doha’s re­stored Souq Waqif pro­vides an ideal an­ti­dote. This cen­turies’old mar­ket just gets of col­or­ful al­ley­ways crammed with shops stacked high with all man­ner of goods. It’s a true smor­gas­bord, of­fer­ing goods from the every­day to the ex­otic in­clud­ing per­fumes, jew­elry, spices and tra­di­tional and western in­flu­ence, with a num­ber of small cafés and lo­cal restau­rants sit­ting right next to more fa­mil­iar global brands. Shops are open daily, usu­ally from 7:30 to 11:00 AM and 3:30 to 11:00 PM.

5 SA­FARI IN THE SAND

Desert sa­faris are a real thrill for the brave and ad­ven­tur­ous, and a great way to ap­pre­ci­ate the sheer beauty of the desert, which is closer than you may think – within half an hour of down­town, the pave­ment gives way to sand. Des­ti­na­tion man­age­ment com­pa­nies such as Gulf Ad­ven­tures of­fer a se­lec­tion of desert sa­faris, some that in­clude swimming in the In­land Sea (Khor Al Udaid) and a bar­be­cue din­ner in a tra­di­tional Be­douin camp. But if you sim­ply want an adrenalin-fu­eled ex­pe­ri­ence, try skimming the edges of tow­er­ing sand dunes at break­neck speed and grav­i­ty­de­fy­ing an­gles.You can check out more sa­fari de­tails at gulf-ad­ven­tures.com. BT

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