Exploring Doha

16 Aug 2014

If you are visiting Qatar then it’s most likely that you have been recommended to visit Doha. Doha is a city that every Qatari is proud of for its spectacular modern buildings, rapid economic growth, fabulous entertainment and shopping centres and the scores of international events that take place in the many convention centres. The Qatari capital has relatively few tourist attractions in the traditional sense, so to get the most out of Doha you need to tap into the lifestyles of the resident expats and locals.

Experience the new Qatar at the Al-Corniche, the city’s sparking seafront and this is the highlight of the city and even if do not visit anything else this is a must on every traveller’s list. Doha Bay was carefully constructed with landfill to make an attractive crescent, along which run shaded footpaths and cycling tracks. One great way to gain an introduction to the city is to begin at the Ras Abu Abboud St Flyover at the south-eastern end of the corniche and either walk or drive. Museum of Islamic Arts houses the largest collection of Islamic art in the world, collected from three continents. Exquisite textiles, ceramics, enamel work and glass are showcased conceptually: a single motif, for example, is illustrated in the weave of a carpet, in a ceramic floor tile or adapted in a piece of gold jewellery in neighbouring display cases, allowing visitors to gain a sense of the homogeneity of Islamic art. This is the kind of museum that is so rich in treasure that it rewards short, intense visits.

While there are lots of outdoor souqs (traditional markets) in the older parts of town, Qataris and expats love hanging out at shopping centres like the massive Villagio, next door to the Hamad bin Khalifa sports stadium. While not quite as outrageous as some of the attractions you’ll find in the malls of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Villagio’s indoor Venetian canal, complete with a gondola ride past expensive jewellery stores and Western-brand clothes outlets, makes for a goodhearted chuckle-inducing photo opportunity. While Qatar lacks a distinct national cuisine, the souq’s many restaurants reflect a range of regional and global cuisines.

Getting around Qatar can be done by taxi as there is no public transportation system. They are fairly reasonable and a convenient option to move around. During the day walking around in Doha is difficult because of the heat but the evening are a great time to go and explore the city on foot.

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