As the capital of Qatar, Doha is its largest city and one of the safest places in the world. The endless hot desert "has been occupied" by glass and concrete. As a result, today, the former pearl village is widely known as a luxury metropolis situated near the coast of the Persian Gulf. In just 40 years, citizens of Qatar have done an incredible job regarding the creation of streets that are not inferior to New York Avenue, as well as an artificial island resembling Venice. At the same time, residents of the city still preserve the traditions and characteristics of Muslim lands, paying tribute to history. None of the travelers remain indifferent to such a contrast of architectural wonders.
Districts of Doha
Al Bidda district is a popular recreational area among tourists and citizens. Here you can see the Pearl Monument, the Clock Tower, and take a walk along the promenade or park. Near these places are the Al Kut Fort, the Falcon Market, and a chic shopping mall.
Near the coastal area, next to the port, is the impressive Museum of Islamic Art, which stands in the middle of the bay and fascinates with its enormity.
One of the most unusual areas of the city is the Pearl Qatar island, where Italian charm is combined with Arab chic. Here people stroll through pedestrian streets with intricate canals that turn this place into a little Venice.
Doha is impressive in its diversity. If it's a museum, then it's a pompous one; if it's a mall, it's a spectacular one, with eye-popping price tags. In the center, on the main streets, deals worth millions of dollars are made every hour, and in the distance, there are frantic camel races or jeep safaris through the dunes. Even if you are in the capital for a day, the trip will be an adventure that will leave many positive emotions.
At the end of the XIX century, the Ottoman Empire seized much of Qatar's land, but the Turks made a treaty with Great Britain in 1916, leaving the Arab lands.
The agreement had lasted for 75 years, during which time Doha experienced severe economic problems. Pearl fishing quickly exhausted itself with the emergence of the Japanese cultured gemstone industry.
The situation improved dramatically when oil and natural gas were discovered on the Arabian Peninsula.
At the end of 1971, Doha was proclaimed the capital of an independent Qatar and began to grow rapidly. Today, it is a safe and prosperous city with the highest level of income, large oil companies, and skyscrapers.
The best time to visit Doha
Every year in March, The Islamic Art Park transforms into a huge open-air kitchen with four days of demonstrations by the city's most famous chefs and various stalls. The event coincides with the Qatar International Culinary Festival and attracts local gourmets and tourists to sample Arabian cuisine.
The family-friendly Souq Waqif Spring Festival brings together performers and magicians in puppet and musical performances. The streets are filled with surreal events for an eastern Muslim country: seal shows, penguin shows, and bungee jumping.
It is better to bargain in the local markets because the prices for tourists are deliberately high. It is best to take small bills with you for successful shopping.
The most common and comfortable way to get around the hot capital is a cab. The cost depends on the time of day. It will cost twice as much during the day.
The best time to return from a trip to the desert is in the evening to see the spectacular sunset over Doha.
It is worth noting that Friday is a day off in stores and government offices.
Things to do in Doha
- Stroll through the bustling shopping streets of Souq Waqif Mall. The smells of spices, the stunning architecture, and the oriental tunes sounding in the distance are the perfect combination to get a taste of Arab culture. You can also stop by the falconry market, which sells birds for hunting (a popular hobby among Qataris). The maze of numerous small stores offers a wide variety of goods, so you can't leave here without souvenirs.
- Take a safari tour or a ride on a camel. This is the best of what you can do in Doha. No matter what you prefer, the main thing is to experience the spirit of adventure in the vast desert. Just 60 kilometers from the city, in the southeast, is the unique natural wonder of the "Inland Sea" Khor al-Adaid, where the hot golden sand meets the ocean.
- Explore Al Zubara Fort, which is a UNESCO heritage site. In the past, it was considered one of the most important diving and trading centers in the Persian Gulf. Today, the fort has been transformed into a beautiful museum. You can't miss a small exhibition on the first floor about the castle and its surroundings.
- Spend a day at the Museum of Islamic Art. It houses some of the oldest and most valuable artifacts from all over the Middle East within its walls. The museum also hosts various art exhibitions with works of international and local artists.
- Visit the Qatar Cultural Village, known as the Valley of Cultures, where you can learn about Muslim history and the unusual architecture of mosques. This space includes an opera house, an amphitheater, art galleries, heritage centers, various educational institutions, and, of course, cafes, green spaces, and museum sites. Some of the most popular mosques are the Blue (with a light blue mosaic and an impressive minaret) and the Golden (with fine tiles sprayed with real gold).
- Visit the Barzan Towers, which stands for "a high place" in Arabic. The towers used to be an observation point to keep an eye on arriving pearl boats. In 2003, they were completely restored (they are up to 16 meters high). You can enjoy the beautiful scenery when you climb up.
- A leisurely stroll along the Doha Corniche promenade is the perfect way to see the sights of the picturesque bay. This is the heart of the capital, with everything from cafes and restaurants to large green areas to relax in. The port offers panoramic views of the skyscrapers.
- Marvel at the luxury of The Pearl-Qatar and learn how the elite lives in the wealthiest country in the world. Luxury yachts, upscale stores, and villas stand on the artificially created shoreline. You can feel like you're in Venice as you stroll past the canals and colorful cottages.
- Dine with traditional Arabic cuisine: maqbous (cooked rice with spices, seafood, and lamb), or quzi (baked lamb with rice and nuts). For dessert, you can try an oriental variant of pudding — mahalabia or lukumades (the local version of doughnuts abundantly soaked in honey).
- Check out the most extraordinary Education City Mosque, which resembles a spaceship in a futuristic style. The scale and beauty of this construction are impressive and can not be compared with any other temple.
- Visit a unique camel race, where mechanical robots are used as riders.