12 hours in Doha
Doha (Arabic: الدوحة) is the capital of the peninsular Arabian Gulf country Qatar is a modern city on Doha Bay.
Once a fishing village dependent on pearl diving, Doha was founded in 1825. It was officially declared as the country’s capital in 1971, when Qatar gained independence from being a British Protectorate.
Following the accession of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani as Emir in 1995, Qatar began to modernise, especially in preparation for its hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Doha today is not the same as it was just a couple of years ago, and will be very different again in a few years time as it continues to grow.
Doha has a reputation for not being the most exciting place on earth; however, should you find yourself here for a longer visit, there is a variety of activities and events.
Doha Qatar – see
Al-Corniche is the visual highlight of Doha, a long seaside promenade that curves around Doha Bay and affords views of Palm Tree Island and the city’s skyscrapers.
Highlights along the Al-Corniche (from east to west) include an informal morning fish market, the MIA (Museum of Islamic Art), the ‘Water Pots‘ fountain, the giant Oyster and Pearl sculpture, the Dhow Harbour (with traditional wooden dhows), and a giant ‘Orry‘ statue (the mascot for the 2006 Asian Games).
Fanar Qatar Islamic Cultural Center, Easily spotted from the Corniche with its distinctive spiral minaret, the center aims to educate non-Muslims about Islam by offering free Arabic classes as well as art and calligraphy exhibits.
Souq Waqif is the renovated Arabic market quarter, where one can easily wander around the maze-like corridors. There is a section of spice shops, another of textiles, and even a quarter with falcons for sale. Stables with Arabian horses are located not far from the falcons, and camels are kept near Al Koot Fort.
The souq was completely rebuilt several years ago on the site of an older souq; however it is a very popular place for locals, particularly on weekends. Buy souvenirs, sit down to smoke a Sheesha, or enjoy food at one of the outdoor restaurants bordering it.
Dhow tour. Day or evening dhow cruises can be arranged with any of the dhows docked along the Corniche. Many cruises offer meals and entertainment, and can be booked for large tours or for more informal arrangements.
The Gate Mall offers upscale shopping and dining experiences, activities like a skating rink, cinemas, food court, and is conveniently located near many top hotels.
Note: Alcohol is strictly regulated in Qatar, as it is a Muslim country, and for visitors is only available in bars attached to large 5-star international hotels. However with temperatures reaching above 40°C water and fresh fruit juices are excellent to survive in such temperatures.