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