Doha sits on the coastline of the Persian Gulf, a shining example of modern Middle Eastern culture. It’s the capital city of the state of Qatar, as well as a powerful financial and commercial centre. Education and research are highly valued, as evidenced by its sprawling Education City complex hosting prestigious university branches from across the globe.
Doha: city layout and top attractions
The Doha Bay area has received much of the city’s development focus, along with West Bay, home to a large community of expats, diplomats and foreign embassies. Some of the best luxury hotels in Doha are in West Bay and West Bay Lagoon.
The Al Dafna seaside district near West Bay emerged as the new business centre of Doha in the mid-1990s. The man-made island of Pearl Qatar serves as an upscale shopping haven and exclusive living community.
Doha Corniche defines the coastline as it curves around Doha Bay. Picturesque wooden fishing boats, known as dhows, bob in the gulf waters of the Doha Port area, serving as a backdrop for bikers, skaters and joggers along the corniche.
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Eating Out in Doha
The diverse cosmopolitan nature of Doha gives rise to some of the best cuisine in the Middle East. Local food has flavours from India, Pakistan, Morocco and the Philippines. There’s also traditional fare from Lebanon, Yemen and Syria.
Bandar Aden in the Souq Waqif serves Yemeni stews made in black stone pots called maderas. The restaurant has traditional floor seating.
Tajine, also in the main souq, is named for the famous Moroccan dish made with lamb and prunes. A set menu allows you to sample an array of Moroccan delicacies. Damasca is the place to try Syrian fare.
Saffron Lounge in the Katara neighbourhood creates a soothing ambiance with colourful art, chandeliers and marble floors. The menu includes Indian specialities such as poppadoms, mango chutneys, biryanis and Bengali lobster masala.
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Shopping in Doha
Modern malls and shopping villages abound in Doha, but residents cherish its main traditional market near the waterfront.
Souq Waqif is Doha's oldest souq. It’s a favourite place to gather, eat and barter for everything from clothing to incense, spices, souvenirs and sweets. Tailors and designers craft custom clothing, while jewellers create stunning pieces from gold, silver and precious stones.
The Gate Mall at West Bay has luxury retailers like Elie Tahari, Givenchy, Temperley London and Breitling. Near the waterfront, City Centre Mall is the largest mall in Qatar, with 270 shops, a home centre, cinema and fun zone for kids.
Villaggio on Al Waab Street in the west end is modelled after Venice, Italy. It provides a casual, open-air shopping experience. High fashion prevails, with luxury brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana. Retail areas are themed, and leisure activities include cinemas and ice skating.
Specialty Shopping in Doha
Culture & Nightlife in Doha
Many of the best Doha hotels have lounges for socializing, dancing and cocktails. The Doha Lounge inside the Intercontinental Hotel at West Bay Beach stays open until the early morning hours. Another Intercontinental property on Al Istiqlal Road at West Bay Lagoon hosts beach parties with live music.
A popular spot for expats is Garvey's European Family Club. It has a pub feel with big-screen sports, live music and British-style drinks and food. It’s located southwest of Doha Bay, just off Salwa Road.
Katara Cultural Village near West Bay keeps Qatari heritage alive through its centres for photography, art, theatre and music. It also features a maritime history museum, an opera house and theatres.
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art houses thousands of artworks and exhibitions reflecting the progress and diversity of Qatar as a nation.
Doha museums and collections
Leisure in Doha
The 18-hole championship golf course at Doha Golf Club is home to the Qatar Masters and is open to visitors. You can also drop in at the club’s bars and restaurants.
Southeastern Qatar has the golden sand dunes of Khor Al Adaid, which meet the sea just 60 kilometres from Doha. Also known as Qatar’s Inland Sea, the area is accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles. Many of the hotels in Doha can arrange excursions.
The collection of forts to the north, including Al Thagab and Al Rakayat, are worth exploring. Al Zubarah, about 105 kilometres from Doha, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that now houses a museum.
Active Pursuits in Doha