The capital of the small state of Qatar, a gas and oil-rich country in the Middle East, Doha is cosmopolitan metropolis stretching inland from a nearly circular bay lined by a promenade walkway offering the perfect sunset location.
Until a few years ago, Qatar was known mostly as a tax-free location for foreign workers (who still make up more than 85 percent of the country’s 2.4 million residents) or a transit airport for long-haul flights between east and west. More recently, the country has reinvented itself into a veritable art hub, a desert tourist destination with luxurious hotels and world-class restaurants, and a sporting venue which will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Shop at Souq Waqif
At Souq Waqif, you’ll find narrow lanes filled with the aroma of spices and incense, shops that sell colorful material, cooking pots large enough to hold a camel, and jewelry fit for royalty. The old Souq Waqif, literally “standing market,” dates back to more than a 100 years ago when it was a stopping off point for passing Bedouins. A fire in 2003 destroyed a lot of it, but it was painstakingly restored in the old traditional style, and improved upon with restaurants and cafes that round off the experience.
Marvel at the Museum of Islamic Art
Designed by I.M. Pei, the building alone is worth visiting, but enter and you will be stunned by the incredible collection of Islamic art including ceramics, metal work, ancient manuscripts, glass, jewelry, calligraphy and textiles, spanning a timeframe of more than a thousand years in the permanent collection.
Learn About the Local Culture at the National Museum
Opened in March 2019 and shaped in the form of a desert rose, the Qatar National Museum now joins the iconic architecture along the Corniche. Learn about Qatar’s beginnings, the daily life steeped in local culture and traditions, and the country’s history. Video projections allow the visitor to be immersed in the history, and there is plenty of interactive fun for the kids.
Walk the Corniche
This four-mile waterfront, palm-fringed walkway is popular with locals and visitors alike. In the cooler months and in the early mornings and later evenings, it is bustling with individuals and families walking, running and rollerblading. Framed by the turquoise waters of the bay on one side and the mix of modern and traditional architecture on the other, the views of the Doha skyline are incredible, especially with at sunset.
Soak Up the Atmosphere at Katara Cultural Village
Entering Katara Cultural Village, sitting among the skyscrapers, is a bit like traveling in time. Traditional buildings, a maze of shaded alleyways, a blue-tiled mosque and a Roman-Greek amphitheatre plus large modern sculptures by renowned international artists all make up an unusual cultural space where art in all its forms is celebrated. Photography and film, theatre and music, local and international.
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