Experiences in Qatar

Experience Qatar

Here you can find a selection of experiences such as boardwalks, desert drives and marketplaces

The Corniche

The Corniche is a 7 kilometre long boardwalk, which runs along the bay of Doha. It offers a beautiful view over the bay and the city’s skyline, the prominent shape of the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) and the spotless white Emirs Palace. It is also the main road connecting the business district with its unique skyscrapers in the so called West Bay area, to the area around the traditional bazaar, called Souq Waqif.

The palm tree lined Corniche is a popular recreation area in the heart of the city. Along wide footpaths, one can explore the entire bay by strolling down the boardwalk, or going for a jog right next to the sea. Especially in the mild afternoon hours it is a popular meeting point, as residents and tourists stroll down the waterfront, glancing across the bay with its wooden dhows and glimmering skyline.

3cr
2cr
Souq Waqif

The Souq Waif is Doha’s central market for more than 100 years. The merely inescapable maze of alleys with hundreds of small shops, is infused with a striking aroma of spices, frankincense, perfume and odors of the oriental cuisine. Souq Waqif is where locals and foreigners, tourists and residents, immerse themselves in the traditional Arabic market atmosphere and purchase spices, dried fruits, nuts, fabrics, perfumes, clothes, and shoes. Also Arabic instruments, pots, pans and pets are available. Porters, mostly elderly men, carry the goods across there market to the cars parked nearby, for just a small tip.

As evening approaches, the wide main walkway which runs through the Souq Waqif, becomes a busy stream of people from all over the world. It is a testimony to the multicultural society of Qatar, with people from more than 160 countries living here. 

At first, Souq Waqif was a market place for wool and animals, which people traded for daily necessities. In 2004, the government decided to renovate the premises, and restore the market to Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s childhood recollection of the market, who is the father of the the current Emir. The efforts resulted in an ancient market, yet newly built. The Souq Waqif is possibly the last remaining traditional Souq in the gulf region.

If you are looking for an authentic place to shop, dine, explore or simply observe the oriental life from one of the many roadside cafes, then visit Souq Waqif.

Further information can be found here.

5F1E1456 EA71 4AEB A40A 36F72E87CCB8
FullSizeRender 3
2sw
Gold Souq

The Gold Souq is located behind the Alfardan Center, on Grand Hamad Street, which locals also call Bank Street. It consists of numerous small shops that have specialized in trading gold, mostly jewelry. Many of the shops are already in their second or third generation of owners, offering high quality, handmade jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces and earrings, made of 18 to 22 karat gold. At the Gold Souq, Qataris like to purchase their wedding jewels such as headdress, bracelets and belt loops.

The value of a piece of jewelry is determined by weight and the daily gold price. Of course it also matters whether the item is handmade or not. On average, prices at the Gold Souq of Doha are substantially lower than they are in Europe. And with a little negotiation skill, you can strike a real bargain here.

Alongside gold, the souq also offers real pearls, which once used to be Qatar’s main trading product. However, pearls from Qatar have become a rarity.

 

Msheireb

Msheireb is Dohas new Downtown. It is the worldwide first project to recreate a complete historic district according to the principles of sustainability using both modern and traditional techniques. 

On a huge premise, the entire historic city center with its traditional shopping and residential areas is gradually being replaced by modern buildings, whilst planners also want to do justice to the district’s past. It is built taking into account the Qatari culture, the harsh climate, the respectful handling of traditional habits and methods of construction all using state of the art sustainable technologies. The paths, squares and buildings are created in such a way that its proportions, simplicity, lighting design, ornamentation and materials used are impressive to both visitors and residents alike.

With Msheireb Downtown, a new hotspot is being built in Doha, which combines urban living, shopping, working and an overall experience with impressive architecture.

Further information can be found here.

FullSizeRender Kopie
FullSizeRender 4
Imam Abdul Wahhab Mosque

The Abdul Wahhab Mosque (also called Qatar State Mosque) is Qatar’s main mosque. It can accommodate up to 30,000 people. 

The mosque was named after Muhammed ibn Abd Al Wahhab, a muslim preacher and scholar of the Najd, who established the Islamic movement Wahhabism. It was built in a traditional arabic style with modern features and stretches over an area of 175.164 square meters. It comprises 3 main doors and 17 side entrances, where 28 domes cover the central hall, and 65 domes cover the outer area.

The Imam Abdul Wahhab Mosque is located in the Jubailat district, south of the Corniche.

The Pearl

The Pearl is an artificial island off the coast of Doha with large marinas, luxurious villas, apartment blocks and state of the art hotels. Due to its architecture resembling a southern European touch, The Pearl is also referred to as the “Arabian Riviera”. 

The site covers an area of approximately 400 hectares and is expected to accommodate 30.000 people upon completion. Target groups for the apartments and villas are not primarily Qataris, although some of the imposing villas are owned by locals. The intended target groups are people from neighboring countries. 

Here, you can shop in numerous boutiques of the world’s most exclusive brands, stroll along the harbor and finish with some time off in one of the cafes or restaurants.

Further information can be found here.

2tp
IMG_0749
Dhow boatage

Dhows are traditional wooden boats, which have been the main mean of transport between the Gulf and India for centuries. The name Dhow originates from the Swahili word “dau”, which translates to “fishing boat”. 

The dhows decorating the waters of Doha’s bay are a striking feature. The boat owners offer cruises through the bay, but also trips further out, where one can swim, fish in the golf and barbecue on board.

The dhows depart from the dock near the Al Mourjan restaurant, located on the Corniche.

In Al Wakrah and Al Khor, you can also find numerous dhows floating on the coast, bass and harbours.

Further information can be found here.

IMG_2841
Dhow Festival

Every November, Katara Cultural Village host the traditional Dhow Festival. It is a tribute to Qatar’s legacy as a maritime nation: Exhibitions, competitions and folkloric demonstrations are organized, as well as traditional competitions such as pearl-diving, free-diving, rowing and sailing with the Dhow

Further information can be found here.

FullSizeRender
1df
Al Wakrah

Al Wakrah was originally a fishing and pearl diving hotspot. It is located a ten minutes’ drive south of the capital Doha. Today there are about 80,000 people living there. Al Wakrah has an above-average number of private schools, as the city is a place of residence for commuters working in Doha.

In Al Wakrah you can still find the traditional architecture of Qatar with numerous old mosques, minarets, forts and wind towers. For example, the Abu Manaratain Mosque and the house of Sheikh Ghanim bin Abdulrahman can be found here. A beautiful beach with sandbanks in shallow, turquoise waters invites you for a walk down the Al Wakrah coastline.

The newly built Al Wakrah Souq brings the past to life. In a very beautiful and calm atmosphere, visitors can go for a walk and discover plenty. In the numerous cafes and restaurants on the waterfront you can continue your relaxing stroll with local food and drinks.

Al Wakrah is also home to the Al Wakrah Sport Club, one of Qatar’s most successful professional football clubs. It has a multipurpose stadium designed for 20,000 spectators and will be expanded to accommodate 45,000 seats for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

IMG_1300
1wk
The Singing Sand Dunes

Through many generations, there are legends reporting of bizarre sounds in the desert of Qatar.

Indeed, the Singing Sand Dunes of Qatar offer a fascinating natural spectacle. The friction of sliding sand grains in sand avalanches create strange sounds. It is a very loud hum or roar, which, with some imagination, can be described as singing.

Through the effects of wind, semicircular dunes are created, that amplify the sound, similar to an ancient amphitheater, and then carry it up to 10 kilometers. 

The Singing Sand Dunes can be found in the desert near Messiad. They can only be reached with a desert-suited vehicle.

The Singing Sand Dunes can be experienced in several parts of the sandy desert, for example here

IMG_0775
IMG_0538
Al-Khor Fish Souq

The small fish Souq is located in the eponymous city of Al Khor. It is one of the oldest markets in the country, and built in the traditional Souq style, comprised of stones and traditional building materials. It counts nearly 20 shops, offering a variety of seafood such as cuttlefish, crayfish, shrimp and other kinds.

2
Al Thakira Mangroves

Al Thakira is a large area north of the city of Al Khor, home to a vegetation that attracts many species of birds such as flamingos and herons. The mangroves along the coastline appear in a lush green tone, which stands in sharp contrast to the usual barren, beige landscape. This spectacular area of vegetation, with its own eco-system, is home to many indigenous bird species as well as migrating birds.

A great way to explore the mangroves is to check with vendors and tour operators lend a kayak and paddle through an extraordinary biotope in guided tours or independently.

Further information can be found here.

4at
3at
Bir Zekreet

Bir Zekreet, one of the few small villages in Qatar, is located about 100 kilometers northwest of Doha. The surrounding landscape is rough desert. To get there safely, it is best to take an experienced guide with you. The daring can try it on their own with a SUV.

The most prominent feature of the bizarre landscape of Bir Zekreet are the huge limestone formations. This unusual geology is the result of strong desert winds blowing away soft sedimentary rocks and exposing the harder limestone skeleton.

The region is also a Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO, and is home to re-inhabitation projects for the indigenous oryx antelopes and gazelles. The research in the reserve includes the use of salt water for irrigation, the creation of pastureland, camel breeding and the exploration of opportunities for soft tourism.

Attention: The nearby “Filmset Fort” is not the ancient 9th Century Murwab Fort (Zekreet Fort). This ancient fort is a protected place and cannot be reached without an archaeological guide.

In Bir Zekreet you can also find the spectacular sculpture “East-West / West-East” by the artist Richard Serra. It consists of four large single steel plates, each 14 meters high, one behind the other in the middle of the arid desert. They stretch over a distance of one kilometer, aligned in an east-west / west-east direction. The sight is breathtaking, modern and timeless at the same time.

Further information can be found here.

3zk
4zk
IMG_0972
Fuwayrit Strand

Fuwayrit Beach is located a 45 minutes’ drive north of Doha. With its long, finely grained white beach, clear turquoise sea and beautiful coast, the area is a real gem. The water is very shallow and only gets deeper gradually, making it suitable for small children too. It is reported that dolphins have already been seen here!

On the weekends, the beach is well attended, and if the weather is good, it is a popular camping and barbecue site. There are no shops, cafes or facilities nearby, which truly adds to the charm of the area.

Further information can be found here.

IMG_1030
Malls

Shopping centers play a big role in Qatar. They are not just important for daily or exclusive shopping. The shopping centers also serve as a meeting place and place for leisure activities. The malls are air conditioned, so they are also and especially a preferred place of leisure activities in the extremely hot summer months. In the shopping centers, you will also find amusement parks, skating rinks, food courts and cinemas. Strolling in a mall, especially on weekends, is an indispensable part of Qatar’s lifestyle.

Of particular interest are the Mall of Qatar, Doha Festival City Mall and Forbes-listed Villagio – they are considered to be the most compelling shopping centers in Qatar.

Further information can be found here.

1ml
3ml
Restaurants and Brunch

Qatar has a strong international culinary scene. Where people from more than 160 countries live, the variety of cuisines and tastes is guaranteed. The in average very high income of the population also allows a high standard of gastronomy.

There are plenty of ways to experience this diversity – from rustic, simply hosted Dhow rides to exclusive dinners in prestigious hotels. Hotels offer a luxurious ambiance with according food and drinks. The 5-star hotels also serve alcoholic beverages of every provenance. In the small traditional restaurants, on the other hand, you will find a more traditional, but no less tasteful, menu.

Brunch on weekends is by far the most popular meal in Qatar – for the locals as well as tourists. The combination of breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed over several hours. It is offered by numerous restaurants, especially in the good hotels of Doha.

Further information can be found here.

 
Fish Market Umm Salal

The old fish market of Abu Hamour moved to Umm Salal in May 2017. Here you will find every fish and other seafood that the regional waters produce and what is common to Doha.

The market is open from Saturday to Thursday from 6 am to 10 pm (Friday from 10:30 am to 3 pm is resting time).

 

MIA Park

Directly at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) is the spacious MIA Park with its large gardens and distinct location right at the seafront. The paths invite you to stroll, skate or bike. The lawns are often used by families for picnics, where several playgrounds invite children to play. There is a bungee trampoline and bike rental station where you can rent bikes to cycle across the expansive grounds.

At the end of the peninsula, the Park Cafe is reached with a shaded terrace and comfortable seating. From here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the opposite skyline of Doha-City, day and night.

During the pleasant, cooler season, the MIA Park hosts outdoor concerts, cinema events, a park bazaar and other outdoor activities.

A little further down, at the very end of the park behind the Park Cafe, is the nearly 25 meters high sculpture “7” by the American sculptor Richard Serra, the largest sculpture ever designed by him and the largest public artwork in Qatar.

The sculpture, which consists of a total of seven steel plates in the form of a heptagon, reflects the significance of the number seven in Islamic culture. The panels have been tested for safety and stability in countless extensive tests due to the extreme climatic conditions and hot temperatures of the region. In 2011, it was inaugurated with a grand ceremony in the presence of many high-ranking guests.

FullSizeRender 8
IMG_3079
IMG_5846