The traditional heart of Doha was Souq Waqif, the chaotic, ramshackle market where trade took place for centuries. It’s still here, but authenticity has been traded for modernization. Rebuilt stalls (albeit in traditional style) line neatly paved narrow alleys. Some Middle Eastern souks still feel like a trip back in time; Doha’s is very much a modern reincarnation.
Qatar views history through the prism of modernity. That’s especially true of the National Museum of Qatar, a spectacular building constructed to resemble a desert rose crystal. The permanent exhibition chronicling the country’s history is presented in an unashamedly contemporary way, with artifacts arranged for visual effect. Full-sized moving projections bring scenes of old Doha to life around you. Not far away, built on its own artificial island in Doha Bay, the Museum of Islamic Art houses a priceless collection of art from across the Muslim world spanning 1,400 years. It reopened in October 2022 after a 12-month refurbishment.
Doha was historically a maritime city, and its heritage is evoked at Dhow Harbour, which moors dozens of traditional wooden vessels. In the past, these sailing boats plied the trade winds to voyage around the Arabian Gulf as well as to India and Africa. Now they mostly operate pleasure cruises in the bay.
On the Corniche beside Dhow Harbour you’ll find a monument devoted to the 2022 World Cup, featuring flagpoles bearing the national flags of the 32 competing nations. The Corniche, a paved pedestrian walkway that curves for five miles around Doha Bay, proves an attraction in its own right. It offers a great place for walking or jogging in the cooler months.
JUST THE FACTS
Time zone: GMT+ 3
Phone code: Country code: 974 Currency: Qatari riyal
Key industries: Oil and gas, fertilizer, fisheries, tourism
COMING AND GOING
All U.S. citizens require a passport valid for at least six months beyond the arrival date plus an onward air ticket and confirmed hotel reservation. Visas available on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days.
Arabic, though English is widely spoken
DESTINATION ONE DOHA