Unlike any other big city with towering skyscrapers, Doha will sweep you off your feet with its unique outlook. It is modern, yet celebrates the traditions unapologetically. The seamless blend of modernity and the traditional influences can be seen everywhere in the city and it makes Doha a unique place to visit in the Middle East.
The rise of Qatar’s capital from a humble beginning, as a pearl fishing village, to becoming one of the most exciting destinations in the near future, is surely a fascinating story in itself. The very first impression of the glinting skyline of Doha is overwhelming. While I was blown away by the mere look of the unique shape and size of the skyscrapers in the city, the atmospheric Souq Waqif made me engrossed in it even more.
Doha is getting a completely new makeover due to the upcoming FIFA World Cup. Whether it is the new metro system, new roads, numerous stadiums, resorts, luxury hotels, villas, or a smart city, Doha is going to be one dynamic city in making just before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Being a host country to the World Cup, Qatar is indulging in a lot of developments like never before. The new Doha can be quite intimidating to the much loved Dubai, as it will be impossible to ignore the rising Doha in the coming days.
Whether it is spending the entire day at the Museum of Art to get enriched by the rich art collection, wandering in the tiny alleyways in Souq Waqif, getting smitten by the luxury at the Pearl, making yourself familiar with the Qatari culture in Katara, or admiring the Corniche in the evening by taking a Dhow cruise, Doha has a lot to offer to its visitors. While the ultra-luxury malls can give you a run for your money, the adventurous dune bashing in the desert can pump up your adrenaline rush to the next level. Doha is exciting, contemporary and a new city to look up to in the Middle East.
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Places to see in Doha
There are a plenty of things to do in Doha. However, the top tourist spots in Doha shouldn’t be missed. Check out what must not be missed in Doha.
Anything traditional or cultural excites me in a new city. Souq Waqif did the same when I visited it the very first evening. The vibrant atmosphere of the traditional market made me hooked on to it so badly that I visited the Souq twice during my 5 days stay in the capital city of Qatar. I am a big admirer of the concept of traditional markets in the Middle East and it was my first introduction to it.
The maze of tiny alleys, shops selling everything from clothing to perfume, handicraft to souvenirs, restaurants lined up with authentic Arabian cuisines, a musician playing soothing songs from the desert, locals in their traditional attire, the Souq Waqif can transport you to the bygone era easily.
I was overjoyed to experience everything. It was so overwhelming that at one point, I just sat down to see the world passing by. Labyrinthine alleyways make you appreciate the sheer beauty of it. Whether it is the Arab shopkeepers selling the painted lanterns, handwoven carpets, colorful cushion covers, ceramic pottery or dining sets, or traditional outfits like burkha, it will make you appreciate everything out there. If you are a fan of the Falcons, don’t miss the Falcon Souq, located hardly a few steps from Souq Waqif.
Visit Museum of Islamic Art
The Museum of Islamic Art is a must-visit place in Doha. A recognizable building in the capital city of Qatar, this museum is located on one end of the seven kilometers long Corniche. If you are an admirer of Art’s in general who appreciates and values any form of art, this museum can be the best place to spend your entire day.
The collection of arts like ceramics, glass, metalwork, manuscripts, textile, paintings, collected from different Islamic countries across the world, are displayed in the museum. It takes time to explore the vast collection in the museum. So, it is advisable to visit the museum with an ample amount of time on your hands. I was thrilled to see a lot of antique pieces from India as well.
Designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei, the design of the building is inspired by ancient Islamic architecture, notably the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo. If I talk about the interior of the museum, it is nothing less than an architectural wonder in itself. The atrium of the museum is a curved double staircase leading up to the first floor. The hanging which is an ornate circular metal chandelier above the staircase is a sheer spectacle for the eyes.
The eye-arresting five-story 45-meter tall window next to the café on the ground floor gives an amazing view across Marina Bay. The Museum comprises of the gift shop, male & female separate prayer rooms, ATM, cloakroom, library & educational center, and 200 Seat Auditorium. The Museum of Islamic Art is an iconic building, which adds up to the skyline of Doha very prominently.
Katara cultural village is an ambitious project to celebrate world culture in the center of Doha. The idea of building the Katara cultural village is to promote culture and exchange the dialogues between various countries to share their rich cultural heritage, overcoming the national boundaries and encourage a common cause to promote humanity.
Katara Cultural Village is a global multidimensional cultural project of Qatar that encourages people to come together to celebrate various cultures and embrace the differences that make the world unique. Celebrating a rich cultural heritage, dialogues between countries, exchanging notes of art and culture, and meeting various people, Katara is truly a great initiative from Qatar.
Katara flaunts theaters, concert halls, amphitheater, exhibition galleries, cafes, and many cutting-edge facilities within the compound. When you visit Katara, don’t forget to visit the mosque. The architecture and details on the walls were worth watching.
Visit The Pearl-Qatar
The Pearl in Doha showcases the luxuriant and ultra-lavish lifestyle of the rich Qatari people. It is purely a visual treat. The Pearl-Qatar is all about a classy lifestyle that truly redefines the meaning of luxury. It is basically a man-made island consisting of numerous captivating precincts.
Meant for the elite class, the Pearl has everything from townhouses, award-winning marinas apartments, villas, diverse leisure and entertainment facilities, and serene beaches. It also houses renowned restaurants, cafes, shopping malls, outlets from luxury brands, and showrooms from the ultra-luxury cars to suit the taste of the rich class.
The royal yachts, private boats to cruise, you name it and the Pearl have it. I was stunned looking at the view of this exclusive modern island, shouting loud about its extravagant lifestyle.
Cruise around the Corniche at night
If you want to enjoy the serene beauty of Doha, you must consider cruising on a traditional Dhow at night. The view of the eye-catching skyscrapers of Doha at the Corniche is something worth looking out for. With the shimmering colors of the towering buildings, a reflection of the same in the waters of the Arabic Gulf, while you cruise along with the horseshoe-shaped cornice with good Arabian music and authentic food, you become a part of the city. Seeing the world passing by, slowly with the speed of the Dhow boat is something worth experiencing when you are in a destination like Doha.
Watch Out for the Skyscrapers
The oozing style and unique shapes of the towering buildings of Doha is the first thing that draws attention as soon as you land in Qatar. The impressive skyscrapers are simply astonishingly stunning. It’s a spectacle of this modern and futuristic city that is going to be one exciting destination in the coming days. The gleaming towering buildings at night look absolutely radiant.
The shimmering building named Aspire Tower looks breathtaking at night. This is the tallest building in Doha, which houses offices, hotel rooms, and a revolving restaurant. Among all other skyscrapers located at West Bay, the most prominent ones are the Doha Tower, Tornado Tower, Al Fardan Residences, also known as the Barjeel Tower, and the Wind Tower.
It’s not just the innovative designs and the shapes of the skyscrapers that drew my attention, but also the love for their leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whose pictures adorn the walls of several buildings across the city. It has given the iconic landscape of Doha a unique identity.
Things to do in Doha
One of the must-do things in Doha is the desert safari. If you are an adventure junkie, you should definitely try dune bashing in the desert of Doha. This is one of the top activities and a very popular one amongst tourists. The whole experience of dune bashing in 4*4 is surely one thrilling activity. I was cruising in the mountains of the desert for miles, rising up vertical hills, and steep drops down the other side, where I could only see sand, miles after miles, with no sight of any vegetation. It surely gave me goose-bumps. You are suddenly in the middle of the desert, far away from the city. Don’t be surprised if you land up at the gulf beach while doing your desert safari.
The whole stretch of Gulf Beach along with the desert is absolutely scenic. You can literally see the Saudi border from there. Standing on the beach, watching migratory birds flocking around, the calmness of the water and the desert across miles on the other side gave me a surreal feeling.
Go for shopping
When it comes to shopping, Doha can be an exciting destination. For a shopaholic, you get numerous shopping malls ranging from budget, luxury to ultra-luxury shopping malls. Some of the most popular malls are Villaggio Mall, Mall Of Qatar, Landmark Mall, Ezdan Mall, Gulf Mall, Doha Festival City Mall, etc. Forbes listed Villaggio Mall as one of the best malls in the world for shopping. This is one of the must-visit malls in Doha.
If not for shopping, just to explore this mall, take the whole day as it is quite big and the architecture and design are quite innovative and unique at the same time. The mall houses a wide range of luxury brands, various outlets, an array of restaurants and café to keep you busy the whole day.
Explore Food Culture
Doha is an upcoming destination in the Middle East for all the right reasons. The food scene of Doha is rather exciting. Most of the renowned restaurants and cafes have started their outlets in the capital city of Qatar. The Michelin Stars Chef Gordon Ramsay has opened his restaurant named Gordon Ramsay Mediterranean in Doha.
Whether you want authentic Qatari cuisines, Lebanese delicacies, popular Greek food, Indian spicy curries, mouth-watering sushi, Mediterranean tapas or the best Italian Pizzas, you can find everything in Doha. Some of the renowned gourmet restaurants are the Cellar, Ipanema, Walima, Morimoto Doha, Layali, Mykonos, Quisine by Guy Savoy, Vine, Jamie’s Italian Doha, Cut by Wolfgang Puck, etc.
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How to reach
There are several flights from major cities of India to Doha. I flew to Doha with Qatar Airways, which flies directly from Delhi to Doha. It takes four hours to reach the capital of Qatar.
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