Ara­bian Al­lure

Awe-in­spir­ing desert land­scapes, a rich cul­ture, and vi­brant moder­nity a wait on a stopover in Qatar.

DestinAsian - - GOOD TO GO HERITAGE - Khor Al Adaid ( In­land Sea)

In­creas­ingly well con­nected thanks to its grow­ing air links, Qatar’s cap­i­tal city Doha is ideally placed to break up the long jour­ney to Eu­rope from South­east Asia and Hong Kong. Here are 10 at­trac­tions you can­not miss when you’re there.

De­signed by the Pritzker Prize–win­ning ar­chi­tect I.M. Pei, who came out of re­tire­ment for the project, the Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art takes pride of place by Doha’s seven-kilo­me­ter-long seafront prom­e­nade known as the Cor­niche. Vis­i­tors can spend hours here ad­mir­ing the price­less col­lec­tion of Is­lamic art and arte­facts from around the world, span­ning 14 cen­turies of his­tory.

An­other must-see is Katara Cul­tural Vil­lage, which fea­tures a trove of art gal­leries, work­shops, per­for­mance venues, and restau­rants housed in build­ings in­spired by tra­di­tional Qatari ar­chi­tec­ture along cob­bled streets. Stroll down the al­ley­ways of the old­est mar­ket in town, Souq Waqif, to soak up the lo­cal color and wan­der into small shops brim­ming with all man­ner of Mid­dle East­ern mer­chan­dise: from dates, spices, and sea­sonal treats to per­fumes and jew­elry.

Fam­ily fun abounds at the first-ever An­gry Birds

World theme park in Doha Fes­ti­val City; it has turned the clas­sic bird-fling­ing game into more than 20 high-oc­tane rides along­side a zi­pline and tram­po­line park. For some­thing more se­date, head to The Pearl-Qatar, a man-made is­land whose Vene­tian-in­spired Qanat Quartier dis­trict is per­fect for a cof­fee ses­sion or a gourmet meal. Or you can gain in­sights into the na­tion’s his­tory and so­cial de­vel­op­ment at Msheireb Mu­se­ums, a quar­tet of re­stored houses in the his­tor­i­cal down­town area. Then, ex­pe­ri­ence the rich sea­far­ing her­itage of Qatar on a dhow cruise that takes in Doha’s glit­ter­ing ul­tra­mod­ern sky­line. Full-day, half-day, and evening ex­cur­sions (in­clud­ing a meal), can be ar­ranged via a ho­tel or through any of the lead­ing lo­cal tour op­er­a­tors.

Be­yond the cap­i­tal, three at­trac­tions are well worth a de­tour. Ar­chae­ol­ogy buffs will love the UNESCO World Her­itage Site of Al Zubarah on Qatar’s north­west coast, which en­com­passes a fortress and the re­mains of an 18th cen­tury pearl-trad­ing town.

In for some ad­ven­ture? Don’t miss the chance to go on a desert sa­fari to Khor Al Adaid, a haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful “in­land sea” 60 kilo­me­ters south of Doha. It’s a tran­quil na­ture re­serve ac­ces­si­ble only by travers­ing the sand dunes in a 4x4 ve­hi­cle, and a must-do be­fore con­tin­u­ing your on­ward jour­ney.

To the West, nes­tled be­hind a canyon in the desert of the Zekreet penin­sula, lies an en­tirely de­serted vil­lage com­plete with houses, en­closed court­yards, mosques and wind tow­ers all built in tra­di­tional Gulf ar­chi­tec­ture. This con­tem­po­rary re­cre­ation of a tra­di­tional Ara­bian vil­lage is known as ‘Film City’ as it was cre­ated to be the set for an Ara­bic tele­vi­sion se­ries that first aired in 2000.

Win­ter bonus! The an­nual Shop Qatar Fes­ti­val is a month-long cel­e­bra­tion start­ing from 20 De­cem­ber 2018 held at malls and bazaars through­out Qatar, of­fer­ing not just un­miss­able deals but also work­shops, mas­ter classes in fash­ion and makeup, and mu­sic con­certs at out­door venues.

Katara Cul­tural Vil­lage

The Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art

Al Zubarah Fort

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