Qatar Tourism: Six Must-See Tourist Attractions in Doha, Qatar
By: Leyelle Mosallam / Arab America Contributing Writer
Doha, Qatar is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. Once the poorest country in the world only 70 years ago, Qatar is now one of the richest countries in the world due to its large oil and natural gas reserve. Qatar is a peninsular country located just off the border of Saudi Arabia and surrounded by the Persian Gulf. Qatar’s capital, Doha, is one of the best vacation spots in the Middle East. Doha’s mix of modernity and culture offers an experience that most can never forget. Qatar is also hosting the FIFA 2022 World Cup. Whether you are looking for a beach trip, an outdoor adventure, sightseeing, luxury, or a cultural experience, Doha, Qatar offers it all.
Take a look a some of the must-see tourist attractions in Doha!
Souq Waqif is one of the most culturally enriched experiences you can have in Qatar. Souq or souk translates to “market” and waqif translates to “standing” so Souq Waqif translates to “the standing market.” Souq Waqif dates back to almost 100 plus years ago. It is a place where Bedouins and local traders would exchange and sell their livestock such as sheep and goats, pearls, spices, wool, and other assortments of goods. The souq once had direct access to the waterfront where all the boats lined up. In 2003, most of the souq was destroyed in a fire; however, in 2006, Qatar decided to renovate the souq to match the style of the 19th-century souq to preserve its historical and architectural identity.
Today, the souq is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Qatar. It is located just off of Doha’s water and within the downtown area. The souq contains alleyways with a wide variety of shops that offer spices, fresh dates, nuts, perfume, oud, jewelry, abayas, headscarves, artwork, and other souvenir goods. Souq Waqif also offers hookah lounges and restaurants. If you wish to do some shopping and explore the alleyways, the daytime is the best time to go. You can also enjoy breakfast at Zaatar w Zeit. For a night out, Damascus One is a popular restaurant you can have for dinner.
The Corniche in Arabic means “waterfront.” Doha’s corniche stretches 7km along Doha’s bay. This crescent-shaped waterfront offers a fantastic view of Doha’s skyline and the Persian Gulf. The Doha Corniche is a popular place to walk, jog, bike, skate…etc. It is a great place to spend the day or evening, and it offers parks, restaurants, cafes, and cultural attractions. The most popular restaurant at Doha’s corniche is Al Mourjan Restaurant. Al Mourjan is a nice restaurant to sit outside and enjoy a meal with a view of Doha’s skyline. Al Mourjan is also a hookah bar. You can enjoy a traditional dhow cruise, which will take you out into Doha’s bay and offers a spectacular view of the city.
Before the discovery of oil and natural gas, Qatar made most of its money from pearl diving. When visiting Doha’s corniche, you can take a picture near the pearl monument. Just a couple of minutes from Doha’s corniche and the pearl monument is Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art.
Museum of Islamic Art:
Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art offers some of the best collections of Islamic art in the world. The Museum of Islamic Art is one of the most architecturally designed buildings in Doha. The building was designed by the award-winning architect, I M Pei, and his design was inspired by the mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun in Cairo, Egypt. The museum sits on a stand-alone island, just 60 meters above seawater, to ensure that future buildings would never impinge on the building’s art.
The museum offers a collection of Islamic art in all forms like ceramic, metalwork, stone, textile, jewelry, and glass.
Katara Cultural Village:
Katara Cultural Village was designed to replicate the Qatari culture with architecture that resembles Qatar’s traditional past and heritage. Katara offers a wide variety of attractions for tourists to see.
The Greek Amphitheater incorporates a mix of Islamic art and Greek culture. The Katara Mosque was designed by Turkey’s Zeynep Fadilloglu, who is believed to be one of the first female architects to specialize in mosques. The design of the mosque was inspired by the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul. Next to the mosque, one can see the popular pigeon tower. The Katara Art Center is an art gallery, which offers contemporary art and projects.
If you wish to enjoy outdoor activities, Katara beach offers visitors a fun beach day with a chance to ride speedboats, parasailing, water skiing, and kneeboarding. Katara hills is also a great place to take a stroll or go for a jog.
The Pearl Qatar is a man-made island that offers a wide variety of entertainment and retail shopping for both its residents and visitors to enjoy. The Pearl is the most iconic site in Doha. The Pearl is a residential complex with luxurious villas and apartments for residents of Qatar to live in but also is a perfect night out and day trip for visitors. The Pearl won multiple awards for its architectural designs and for the longest waterfront retail walkway in the world. The Pearl is made up of six different sections, Floresta Gardens, Giardino Village, Isola Dana, Medina Centrale, Perlita Gardens, and Porto Arabia.
The Medina Centrale is a lively place to be in the evening. Medina Centrale is located between the residential and retail districts of Porto Arabia and the relaxed beachfront of Viva Bahriya. Medina Centrale offers a variety of restaurants, cafes, dessert spots, and hookah lounges.
Porto Arabia is a Mediterranean district, which offers a mix of outdoor and indoor retail shopping. Porto Arabia is an open boardwalk and is a nice place to walk along during the day where you can enjoy a look at the boats docked at Porto Arabia Marina. The Marina won an award for its design.
The National Museum of Qatar:
The National Museum of Qatar opened in 2019 and it is designed to share the history and story of the people of Qatar. The exterior design of the museum was designed by Jean Nouvel. The art was inspired by the shape of a desert rose. The museum offers eleven galleries to tell the story of Qatar and the lives lived between the land and sea. The museum also offers educational resources and learning spaces, a restaurant, and cafes.
Check out Arab America’s blog here!