Qatar was a late addition to our travel itinerary. We were meant to visit Sri Lanka and the Maldives, but we were due to fly the week after the Easter terror attacks in Sri Lanka, meaning our flight there was cancelled. We ended up having to re-route via Qatar to the Maldives, and extend our Maldives stay instead of visiting Sri Lanka.
Qatar is in the Persian Gulf, and actually has the highest per capita income in the world, mainly as a result of its oil and natural gas supplies. It also has super low crime rates; we actually went on a tour where someone left her bag (including passport and laptop) on a wall in a busy area, didn’t realise for 2 hours, and then when she realised and returned – it was still there!
Interestingly, of its 2.6m citizens, 2.3m are expats. This area of the world has a complex history of international relationships and I would have liked to stay longer to explore more, but I was glad to spend some time there at least to see a few of the main sites.
1. Dhow Harbour
This area is lovely, especially at sunset. Around the harbour there are lots of traditional Dhow boats, which run tours around Doha and the harbour. From the harbour front, you can also see the Doha skyline – particularly impressive when illuminated at night. Beware though, there are a LOT of flies.
2. Katara Cultural Village
This village a short ride out of the centre of Doha houses buildings which are in line with the country’s cultural and architectural heritage. The site includes mosques, an amphitheatre, an opera house, a cinema and even a beach!
3. The Museum of Islamic Art
This houses almost 1500 years’ worth of art, from manuscripts, to wood, to glass, to ceramics. Items have been collected from all over the Islamic world over time including Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Europe.
4. Souq Waqif
Souq Waqif literally translates as ‘standing market’; and this is Doha’s oldest Souq. You can buy lots of hand made items, clothes, spices, food and there are also a lot of tea rooms and shisha lounges too. Be prepared to haggle!
5. The Pearl
The Pearl is a super upmarket shopping area on the waterfront, with luxury apartments galore. It’s a great area for shopping if you can afford it, or window shopping as in my case, if you can’t afford to buy a Ferrari as you pass by!
Luxury at The Pearl
6. Lamp Bear
I couldn’t not mention him! This giant piece of art work sits in the Hammad International Airport in Doha. He’s a 20 ton solid bronze sculpture of a bear sitting inside a lamp! He cost about $7m and previously sat in New York until purchased in a Christie’s auction!
7. Al Fanar (Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre)
This is a mosque, as well as home to religious, educational and social activities. As a non Muslim, you can also learn about Islam and tours are run to the Katara Cultural Village to help you learn and see Islam in practice.
8. National Museum of Qatar
This brand new museum was opened in 2019. It charts the natural history of the desert, Bedouin culture, tribal wars, through to Qatar being formed and the discovery and impact of oil! Really fascinating for anyone who wants to learn more about the region.
Thanks for reading! Has this post been helpful? Have you been to Qatar or are you thinking of going for the world cup? Let me know in the comments below; and stay safe and happy travelling.