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