Today, Doha is considered one of the most promising and rapidly developing cities in the Middle East; it is the centre of the region’s fishing and oil industries. Most of the inhabitants are fabulously wealthy since Qatar extracts a colossal amount of oil and every citizen of the country receives a share of the profits from the production.
In the past few years, the Qatari government has embarked on moving away from a resource-based economy and positions Doha as a major tourist centre and air hub.
Emiri Palace Divan
Qatar’s National Parliament’s stunning white building is the official seat of the Emir of Qatar and is easily recognizable by the massive flag atop the palace. This is a good reference point for tourists exploring the Corniche area, but we do not recommend getting too close to it, as the site is considered secure and therefore well guarded.
At one time, this building was used both as a prison and as an ethnographic museum. The fort was built during the Turkish yoke of the 19th century, but later lost its original appearance after restoration in the late 70s of the last century. The fort is not currently in use, but it is clearly visible from the road and is a good reference point when visiting the nearby Souq Waqif market.
Covered with thousands of gilded tiles, this striking Ottoman-style mosque shines brightly in the sun 365 days a year. And although the entrance is closed for non-Muslims inside, you should still stop by to look at this miracle at least from the outside – especially if you find yourself in the area of the ethnographic village “Katara”.
This modern mall, located near the Souq Waqif market, attracts crowds of merchants and traders selling gold jewellery. It is worth going here, even if you are not going to buy anything because you will not find such a variety of ornaments and designs anywhere else. The gold bazaar comes alive in the evenings, especially before the holidays when men traditionally come to the market to buy new jewellery for their wives.
Souq Waqif Market
Without a doubt, this vibrant complex is one of Doha’s most atmospheric attractions. Built on the ancient market site, Souq Waqif is considered the centre of the city’s social life. Centuries ago, local Bedouins brought their sheep, goats, and wool to bargain and earned a living. More recently, the authorities have skillfully rebuilt the area, while retaining all the original 19th-century bazaar features with its dilapidated shops and exposed wooden floors. They did not forget about the old Qatari houses, which were carefully restored.
Some of the local outlets are more like museums, displaying curious artefacts (like swords and handmade souvenirs) and jewellery from all over the world. Many shops and kiosks in Souq Waqif close during the day during the hottest days, but its many cafes and restaurants are, in fact, open all day.
Museum of Islamic Art
This incredible museum has the most extensive collection of Islamic art in the world from three continents. There are so many things here that you can hardly see even the most critical exhibits in one visit. The museum building is located on a separate island by the bay and is surrounded by a lawn and decorative trees. It is designed in a traditional Arabian style with very few windows (this was done to reduce energy consumption). The view of the bay from the museum is one of the best in Doha. The exhibits are located on three floors: on the 1st and 2nd floors, a permanent collection, including exquisite textiles, ceramics, metal and glass products, and all items seem to complement each other. For example, the same motif can be traced in carpet weaving and ceramic tile painting, and a little later in gold decoration patterns, which allows visitors to feel the unity of Islamic art styles, which have been carefully preserved for centuries.
There are many other attractions, such as The Pearl Monument, various beautiful parks, clubs, etc. Getting around is effortless even if you are travelling in a group; we recommend Doha van rental services instead of city buses.