Sights & Landmarks in Doha
- Al Koot Fort (Doha Fort), Jassim Bin Mohammed St (parking lot near Souq Waqif). Built in 1880 during the Ottoman period, this big white fort is located in what is now the parking lot of Souq Waqif. At the time it was built, however, the fort was located on the outskirts of the city. Formerly used as an ethnographic museum, the building is now undergoing renovations and currently closed, although it is still a popular place to take photos.
- Fanar Qatar Islamic Cultural Center, Abdullah Bin Jassim St(near the Corniche and Souq Waqif), , e-mail:[email protected]. Daily 8AM-12PM, 4PM-8PM. 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. The center conducts bi-weekly tours of local mosques followed by a traditional dinner (abayas provided for women, registration required), and also hosts weekly coffee mornings with presentations on Qatari culture and lifestyle (registration required).Free.
- Clock Tower. Located next to the Grand Mosque, this old clock tower features Arabic numerals on its face. The tower is also located on a hill, and as such offers some wonderful views of the Corniche.
- Windtower House, Grand Hamad St & Ali bin Abdulla St(enclosed within Souq Najada). One of the last traditional windtowers in Qatar. Windtowers were used in the days before air conditioning, functioning by sucking cool air into a house. The house is currently not open to the public, but can be viewed from the outside.
- Souq Waqif. Souq Waqif is the renovated Arabic market quarter, where one can easily wander around the maze-like corridors for hours. The souq is organized more or less by what is sold. 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 and the parking lot. Also look for places to buy souvenirs, sit down to smoke a Sheesha, or enjoy food at one of the restaurants bordering it. Traditionally-dressed Qatari police occasionally patrol the souq area, in the morning mounted on camels and in the evening on horseback. The souq was completely rebuilt several years ago on the site of an older souq, and therefore can feel somewhat artificial; however it is a very popular place for locals, particularly on weekends.
- Msheireb Enrichment Centre, barge docked off the Corniche, next to the Sheraton, , e-mail: , [email protected]. M-Th 9AM-8:30PM; 12-8PM Th, Sa 3:30PM-6PM. A small museum with photographs and artifacts illustrating the historic development of Doha from small fishing town to modern city. The exhibit is sponsored by developer of the Msheireb project near Souq Waqif. Free.
- Heritage Library (near Education City). Over 51,000 books in Arabic and other languages on Qatar and the Middle East, together with 600 antique maps, 2,000 manuscripts and 6,000 original photographs, form The Arabian and Islamic Heritage Library in Qatar, another initiative of HH Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned through Qatar Foundation. It is one of the largest research centres in the Middle East, and is based on a collection started by Sheikh Hassan Bin Mohamed Al Thani in 1979. Tours of the collections are offered twice on Sunday and Tuesdays, at 10AM and 11:30AM, no appointments required. Free.
- Qatar National Library (Education City). Due to open in late 2014, the building has been designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.
- Virginia Commonwealth University Gallery, Al Luqta St, Education City(entrance at Gate 2), , e-mail: [email protected].M,W,Sa,Su 10AM-5PM, T 10AM-5:30PM,. The gallery at the VCU-Q campus in Education City regularly hosts visiting exhibitions as well as the work of faculty members and students. On those occasions, the gallery is open to the general public. Located in the heart of a city and region with an extraordinarily vibrant and diverse cultural heritage, VCUQatar plays a central role in the modern cultural life of Qataris and Middle Easterners. Whether in the studio, the library, the computer laboratory, or the lecture halls, students can expand their cultural perspectives as well as acquire expertise for the workplace within an energetic and compassionate learning environment. It has grown steadily since then through planned acquisition and purchase. The collection includes Arab manuscripts, a foreign language section dating back to the 15th century, and 20th century books about art and politics. Free.
- Heritage Village. Located along the Corniche adjacent to Al Rumeilia Park, with buildings modeled on a traditional Qatari village. Visitors can expect to see weaving, pearl trading, and a dhow (traditional boat). The village is open only for Ramadan, Eid, and special cultural festivals.
- Al Najada (south of Souq Waqif). For a glimpse of some older Qatari architecture, it can be worthwhile to wander around some of the older neighborhoods surrounding Souq Waqif, particularly the small neighborhood to the immediate south of the souq. There are still a few notable old villas and mosques which predate the mostly 1970s-era buildings; given the pace of redevelopment in Doha it is unclear how much longer they will survive. Best explored on foot. (Note: as the current inhabitants are exclusively male immigrants, women will feel uncomfortable without a male companion.)
- House of Sheikh Abdullah bin Thani Al-Thani, Al Luqta St (near the Education City Roundabout). A traditional Qatari home, remarkable because it has two instead of one 'majlis' (guest reception area). Built in 1935 using traditional materials and techniques, it has been fully restored. The building is not currently open to the public, but can be viewed from the outside.
- Corniche. The visual highlight of Doha is Al-Corniche, a long seaside promenade that curves around Doha Bay and affords pretty views of Palm Tree Island and the city's skyscrapers. In the afternoons you will see plenty of locals strolling, often trying to get out of the way of the odd crazy Western ex-pat on rollerblades. It's also a good place for jogging. Cycling is prohibited. If you're looking to have the scenery all to yourself, go on a Friday morning.
- Highlights along the 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).
- Rumeila Park, The Corniche. Formerly known as Al-Bidda Park, this is opposite the Corniche with an outdoor theatre, art gallery, water features, children’s play area and skateboard/rollerblading half-pipe. There are several shops, a cafeteria and public toilets.
- Katara Cultural Village, off of Lusail St, , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. This building complex is designed to resemble a traditional Qatari village, and includes a large open-air amphitheater, opera house, drama theater, galleries, as well as a number of (expensive) restaurants featuring international cuisine. The galleries host changing art and photography exhibits, and various festivals are held here throughout the year.
- There is also a public beach here (entry fee QR 100) which offers watersport activities. Modest beach attire is required, i.e. for women a one-piece suit.
- Al Jazeera Studios, Wadi Al Sail West (near TV Roundabout), +974 4489 7446 / 4489 7451 / 4489 7449, fax: , e-mail:[email protected]. One of Qatar's claims to fame is the Al Jazeera news network, which broadcasts to hundreds of millions around the world. The studios are not made to be a tourist attraction, although you may be able to contact the office and ask for a tour. A small museum is located on-site, dedicated to journalists who have died in the field, along with various timelines and displays about the network's history.
- Doha Zoo, Al Rayyan. The zoo is undergoing major renovation and refurbishment, and is currently closed.
- MIA Park, Corniche (adjacent to the Museum of Islamic Art). Oct-May W-M 10:30AM-11:30PM, Jun-Sep W-M 6PM-12AM, closed 1 Jul - 2nd day of Eid. This modern park was built on reclaimed land and affords great views of the West Bay skyline. Visitors can rent bicycles or paddleboats, and enjoy coffee or ice cream at a small café. At the end of the promenade is the monumental sculpture '7' by American sculptor Richard Serra. During the winter the MIA Park Bazaar is held on the first Saturday of every month, offering an eclectic mix of food, arts, crafts, books, and souvenirs. Free.
- Calligraffiti Murals, four underground tunnels on Salwa Rd. In 2013 the French-Tunisian graffiti artist eL Seed was commissioned by the Qatar Museum Authority and the Public Works Authority to paint a series of 52 large-scale murals inspired by Qatari culture. The project required four months to complete and showcases eL Seed's signature style fusing Arabic calligraphy with street art. The murals can be best seen by simply driving through the tunnels.
- The Miraculous Journey, Sidra Medical and Research Center (near Education City). A series of 14 monumental bronze sculptures depicting the stages of development of a fetus from gestation to newborn, by British artist Damien Hirst. The sculptures were commissioned by the Qatar Museum Authority, which reportedly paid US$20 million for them. The medical center is a woman's hospital still under construction and not due to open until 2015, but the sculptures can be viewed from the side of the road. Free.
Qatar - Travel guide