Doha has a rich variety of attractions outside of football, although that usually is the main goal.
Unlike other Gulf countries, there is no enforced dress code in Qatar and people are free to wear whatever they feel most comfortable in. Activities in the city are aesthetically pleasing, informative and accessible to tourists.
After a ride on the Metro Gold Line, the National Museum is a must-see attraction.
The National Museum traces the history of Qatar from pre-historic times to the discovery of oil in the 1940’s, followed by the country’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1971. The museum’s architecture is a work of art in itself, and the exhibits are beautifully presented with labelling in both English and Arabic.
For many centuries, the Qatari people split their time between the desert Oasis in the winter and living on the Gulf coast in the summer. Pre-oil, the country’s main industry pearl fishing – those harvested off the Qatari coast were highly sought after and fetched high prices in overseas markets, especially in Bombay, India.
The stock market crash in the 1930’s and the advent of cultured pearls effectively put an end to the industry, and around the same time oil was discovered on the peninsula. Oil started to flow from Qatar after World War Two, and the economy skyrocketed shortly afterwards.
Plan on spending at least two hours at the Museum in order to do it justice.
Pictured: Qatar National Museum
The National Museum offers a free shuttle service to other nearby attractions.
Pictured: Traditional Middle Eastern starters from the L’Wzaar.
The Souq Waqif is located close to the National Museum and offers a fine selection of local crafts in a traditional Middle Eastern setting. The numerous cafes & restaurants offer a wide range of dining experiences and there is plenty of street food available.
The nearby Falcon Market gives a fascinating glimpse into the traditional Arab sport of Falconry. There are many magnificent birds on display, some of which can fetch many thousands of dollars.
The Islamic Museum of Art is a stunningly designed building, containing a treasure trove of priceless artifacts dating back to the dawn of Islam in the seventh century from all over the Muslim world.
They feature special exhibitions on a seasonal basis, and we saw Gems & Jewels Set in Stones from the Royal Indian Courts. All exhibits are beautifully presented and clearly marked in both English and Arabic.
Collections are housed on four floors and it’s best to start at the top and gradually work your way down – give yourself several hours to do the museum justice.
The museum’s café offers a stunning view of Doha Bay, and the gift shop has a wide range of souvenirs for all pockets (although the magnificent Crusaders v. Saladin Chess Set was a little out of my budget at around $1,500 USD).
The museum can be reached by taking the Gold Metro line to Souq Waqif. Entry fee is 50 Qatari Rials (about $12.50 USD) and is valid for three consecutive days.
For the latest information you can visit their site: http://www.mia.org.qa/en/
Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the Qatar National Library is located on the east end of the Green Metro Line and is part of the Education City University complex. The entire area is full of the most amazing architecture, with the National Library boasting state of the art computerized book referencing and retrieval systems.
The building is spacious and airy, with natural light streaming through the glass ceiling which covers some 45,000 square feet and beautifully illuminates the bookcases. The building boasts many study and presentation areas – the real treasures are kept one floor below the main exhibits and documents tracing back Qatar’s history are displayed there in all their glory.
Entrance to the National Library is free of charge and although it’s a little off the beaten track, it’s well worth a visit. Guided tours in English and Arabic are available at frequent intervals.
Updated information can be found here: https://www.qnl.qa/en
The Corniche off the Metro Red Line offers fantastic views of the city skyline and is best visited at night when the full effect of the futuristic illuminated architecture can be best enjoyed.
Katara (Metro Red Line) offers exclusive shopping in the Gallery Lafayette, and an amphitheater where local shows are performed in open air. It’s also home to some fine dining including the L’Wzaar fish restaurant, which is a unique experience and very popular with both locals and tourists alike. The public beach is very popular and the entire Katara area bustles with activity.
Pictured: The Amphitheater
Katara is a hub of local arts & crafts and many exhibits are on view in the area, which is also home to several media companies.
Read more about it: http://www.katara.net/en/visting-katara/restaurants-cafes
Needless to say, Qatar offers plenty of sites and attractions to visit through your stay that appeal to every type of tourist. Allow yourself extra time at each attraction to fully embrace yourself in Qatar’s history and culture.
By Paul Yarden.