Qatar: The Pearl of the Middle East
In 2010, Qatar was named as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Since then, there has been increased activity and interest in the country, which has a population of about 2.7 million that is majority expat. There are many activities and places to get to know this vibrant country!
Start with a visit to this buzzing market. It is a maze of stands, shops, and places to eat! It was built on the site of an ancient market where Bedouins, a group of nomadic Arab people, would visit to trade in sheep, spices, pearls, and essentials. It was designed to look like a 19th-century souq, so it is very picturesque. As a bonus, stop by the falconry market! A popular hobby across generations, Qataris are introduced to falcons and falconry at a very young age. Falcons are trained for racing and hunting, which takes time and patience. They are a source of pride for the nation.
Recently opened, this museum was named as one of the World’s Greatest Places to Visit in 2019 by TIME Magazine. It features stunning architecture and design, so it is a must-visit to learn more about the culture of Qatar and its past. Prepare to be blown away through a richly immersive and experiential visit exploring three chapters: Beginnings, Life in Qatar, and The Modern History.
Visit Qatar’s largest UNESCO World Heritage site, which was once a pearl fishing and trading port. It’s absolutely worth exploring, as it is one of the largest and best-preserved examples of an 18th and 19th-century merchant town in the Persian Gulf region.
Qatar National Library
Featuring state-of-the-art facilities, the National Library is a great stop! Look for the Heritage Library section where you will find ancient manuscripts and historical photographs.
The dunes and sand desert are a popular attraction, featuring safaris, dune-bashing, and visiting the inland sea. Check out 365 Adventures, as they offer a variety of tours and activities.
The Cornish is a 7 km walk along the waterfront spanning the bay of Doha. It is a fantastic walk in either the daytime or in the evening. There are green spaces, phone charging stations, and exercise machines along the Cornish, and it is lined by traditional wooden dhows. It leads all the way to the Museum of Islamic Art.
Museum of Islamic Art
MIA was designed by IM Pei, the winner of the 1983 Pritzker Architecture Prize. You will find beautiful Islamic jewelry, ceramics, glass, manuscripts, metalwork, textiles, and much more at the museum. Look for the stunning MIA Café, located in the Atrium – it has the famous Doha skyline view!
East-West / West-East by Richard Serra
I saved my favorite for last! This sculpture in the desert by Richard Serra is inspiring! It is set in an unusual landscape; you will find it in the heart of the desert, with four perfectly aligned steel plates over 14 meters high. Watch the video here, which shows how interesting and picturesque it is to walk through the sculptures while the artist himself discusses how he has created “a place within a place.”
While you’re in Doha, check out these cafés, too. Remember to dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees. However, Qatar has a more relaxed dress code than other countries in the Middle East. A trip that is about five days to one week long should be enough time to visit all these places and get a taste of what Qatar has to offer. Shukran!
Know Before You Go
Enjoy your trip to Doha with these helpful tips!
- Sunglasses are a must.
- Dress with respect by covering from shoulders to knees.
- Rent a car, or use Karwa or Uber to get around.
- Beware the heat; stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- A sweater or shawl will come handy in the cold shopping malls and indoor places.