Doha is the capital city of Qatar and home to most of the country's citizens with a population of 1.3 million, which includes a large ex-pat community. An international city that is growing and evolving in front of the world's eyes, Doha oozes confidence, swagger, style and energy. Vast investment from the Qatari government is translating into a constantly changing, sparkling skyline and a growing list of cultural attractions that draw travellers from the world over. From ancient souqs radiating history, atmosphere and rich colour through to world-class shopping malls boasting the latest haute couture, Doha has everything you need for an exciting holiday of contrasts, stimulation and memories.
Marvel at some of the world's finest paintings in the Museum of Islamic Art on its man-made island, or head to the atmospheric and colourful Souq Waqif market for fabrics, spices, trinkets and delicious food. Sip a cocktail and enjoy water sports at one of the major Qatari beaches or head out to the cultural city of Katara. The downtown waterfront is packed with parks and the beautiful Corniche Promenade.
The energy of the city fizzes on every street corner and the events calendar describes a visitor destination on the up, including the 2022 FIFA world cup. From golf, water sports and horse racing through to spas and leisurely promenades, there's something to suit everyone. Try your hand at traditional falconry with expert instruction or hire buggies to head out of the city and speed across the desert sand dunes. Don't forget to enjoy traditional hospitality in a Bedouin tent, and if you feel brave, try riding a camel! Watch out Dubai, as Doha is definitely gearing up to take the tourism crown!
Things to Do
You'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to activities in the bustling city of Doha. The fascinating fusion of cosmopolitan and traditional combines to provide opportunities for single travellers, couples and families alike, and the government investment in the city means that there is a long list of things to see and do.
Experience tradition in the Souq Warif
The Bedu tribe visited this iconic Souq for centuries to trade wool and livestock and today the Souq Warif has been transformed into the city's social quarter. Careful restoration and planning has reimagined the Souq in a 19th century authentic design, with plenty of restored buildings, exposed beams and architectural features to admire. Look out for beautifully embroidered national Qatari dress such as the bukhnoq and buy perfumes, spices, trinkets and exotic incense. The maroon-uniformed porters, or alhmalah, are there to help you transport your shopping in their traditional wheelbarrows. Go to the end of Al Jasra St to see feeding camels and explore the Falcon Souq to glimpse precious Arabian steeds.
See nature up close at The Al Maha Sanctuary
This family favourite is home to the white Arabian Onyx: the native symbol of Qatar. These graceful desert deer are endangered and protected through a captive breeding scheme -- the first of its kind in the Arab world. The Sanctuary is expertly managed by Qatar's Department of Wildlife Conservation and it offers a wonderful chance to see the Onyx in their home environment along with a raft of other Arabian breeds. Learn about native wildlife, get up close to some fascinating species and enjoy refreshments and shopping to round off a perfect afternoon out.
Experience the nightlife of glamorous Doha
See the skyline come to life with dazzling city lights and the carpet of sparkling stars above. Doha nightlife is unmistakably Middle Eastern in nature, with a fabulous mix of high-end restaurants, sassy clubs, relaxing shisha lounges, cocktail bars, movie premiers and red-carpet events. The social scene is vibrant and lively and most nightlife begins with a meal at one of the many international restaurants, often around the Pearl Qatar. You'll find entertainment ranging from traditional Arabic music and shisha, through to international DJs pumping out the hits in hugely glamorous nightclubs; the parties go on until dawn.
Witness the Future Qatar
It is quite something to watch a huge city grow around you, and Future Qatar is an architectural masterpiece in action. As the city prepares for the 2022 World Cup, you can go and wonder at a number of high-profile projects in progress. See Lusail City at the West Bay Lagoon, or head to Doha Sports City, also known as the Aspire Zone. Education City is another feature worth seeing and there are various tours available that will tell you everything about the scope, scale and vision of these grand projects.
Cruise along The Corniche in style
Head to the Doha Corniche for a fantastic cruise on a traditional Dhow or treat yourself to a manned yacht cruise with champagne and vol-au-vents on board. You'll leave from the Pearl Islands and enjoy a breath-taking cruise to the Corniche. After, enjoy a stroll along the promenade, checking out the Oyster monument (with its iconic pearl) and the Dhow Wharf. Many visitors time their leisurely cruise with the sunset for a truly memorable event that will present the city in all its colourful splendour.
Calendar of Events
Doha has a lively events calendar, with plenty of superb festivals, cultural events, music, theatre and sporting fixtures to engage travellers of all kinds.
Qatar Summer festival. This runs annually between Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha (June to September). There are over 100 activities to enjoy at this Doha celebration, including stand-up comedy, Arabic music, sports events (including international chess competitions for large prize draws) and various generous shopping and dining discounts. Hotel deals are also in abundance to mark the occasion.
Longines Global Champions Tour. The Al Shaqab Equestrian Centre is home to the annual show jumping championship finale, with multiple disciplines to enjoy and the sight of the world's finest Arabian rare breeds competing at the highest levels. A key event in the social calendar, this is also a superb opportunity to see some of the world's finest riders in an electrifying final.
Qatar International Food Festival. Located at the Hotel Park in front of the Sheraton, this week-long spring festival gives you the chance to experience tantalising cuisines and fresh flavours, with experiential cooking and live demonstrations, tastings and special menus and offers in abundance all across the city's many restaurants and eateries.
Qatar Kite Festival. Witness 100 years of tradition and some of finest kite flying teams from across the world in this whirling, colourful and uplifting festival which takes place over two days. Located in Katara cultural town, you will enjoy kites, art and culture accompanied by spectacular views across the beach and family-friendly workshops.