5 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Qatar
Qatar is known for its spacious beaches and blue waters and endless sunshine, but that's just the surface of the top attraction in this predominantly Middle Eastern country.
If you're ready to look beyond the beaches and into the culture of Qatar, you'll find museums that trace the history of the country from its time as the world's only up-and-coming oil exporter in the mid-20th century to today, when its fields are aging and the capital of Doha is booming with a new high-rise skyline and theme parks and fast-growing modern metropolis.
If you want to explore, then, Qatar is perfect. Its cities, small but bustling and mostly modern, host shopping malls, specialty food markets, and art galleries, giving travelers a taste of the people, places, and lifestyle they came to see.
With so much to do and see in Qatar, you're sure to find plenty of top tourist attractions for your travel itinerary. Plan your visit with our comprehensive guide to the top places to see and things to do in Qatar.
The capital of Qatar was founded in 1760 and is known today as the "Pearl of the Gulf." It is a modern city, with impressive architecture and modern shopping malls. Qatar Museum, in the basement of a shopping mall, is one of the oldest in the region and houses a number of exhibits illustrating the development of the country. The Mall of Qatar is a modern shopping mall, named after the Doha's own oil reserves. Doha is best known for its great restaurants and traditional Arabic dishes, such as kebab (grilled skewers of lamb and chicken). The sport of water polo is played widely in Qatar, and there are many internationally recognized stadiums. In March 2008, Doha hosted the first World Cup of Water Polo for the Asian region. Transportation options include a free airport shuttle service. Qatar Airways has an office on the sixth floor of the mall.
Although it's often referred to as a "big mall," Doha Corniche is probably the most exciting attraction in this capital city of the tiny country of Qatar. Doha Corniche is located right next to Hamad International Airport, connected to the airport by the Doha Metro. It is a popular park and offers a wonderful look at the city's history, even if there's not much to do in the park. The Doha Corniche was built for the Expo 2010 World Fair, and has a total length of 1 kilometer. The 1.2-meter-high structure includes sculptures depicting traditional Qatari handicrafts, Arab cuisine, and has a beautiful fountain. Most people visit the park because of the Qatari wildlife, which includes free-flying peacocks, donkeys, goats, and cows, as well as geese, chickens, and other small domestic animals. The area is also home to many songbirds, including sand grouses, coots, and plovers. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the park's path, serving falafel, shawarma, and other Arabic favorites.
Al Wakrah is one of the new cities of the state of Qatar. It was named for the wakrah, a tent-like structure held up by wooden poles. Al Wakrah, originally a Bedouin settlement, is a small town and is not in the south of the country, in the Gulf. Its population is said to be about 100,000. Al Wakrah is a gateway to Mesaieed and the new capital Doha, which is located a few miles away. The new air-conditioned Al Wakrah National Museum is located near the Old City. It is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Al Wakrah National Museum is a modern structure, but the exhibits retain their traditional spirit.
Doha Museum of Islamic Art
Doha Museum of Islamic Art is not your average museum. Opened in 2003 to provide a center for the promotion and study of Islamic art, the museum has a collection of 500 items and a permanent exhibition of works from many of the major exponents of Islamic art, including the stunning ruby-handled dagger from Iran (which is also displayed at the Louvre) and the world's largest porcelain tomb-slab sculpture. Although most visitors come to the museum to view the artworks and the museum has some fine examples, the various exhibitions are not the main reason to visit. Instead, Doha Museum of Islamic Art is really about taking visitors deeper into the history of Islamic culture. From the colorfully decorated Madina minaret, to the largest mosque in the world, the Souq Waqif, to the outstanding street-market food, it's all an ideal introduction to what makes the Islamic world such an enticing destination.
Hamad International Airport
Qatar Airways first launched flights to Hamad International Airport on March 1, 2010. Located 30 miles northeast of Doha in the Al Khor region, Hamad International Airport has a single concourse, allowing passengers to travel directly from the airport's immigration checkpoint into the terminal. Unlike some other airports in the region, Hamad has its own duty-free shop. The recently-built airport terminal is a small but pleasant affair, designed with spacious lounges, a snack bar and shop, and a range of shops selling branded goods. Connections from Hamad International Airport to Doha International Airport take 15 minutes, with flights scheduled at regular intervals. Other destinations serviced by Qatar Airways from Hamad International Airport include Bahrain, Beijing, Baku, Bratislava, Istanbul, Kathmandu, Kuwait, Moscow, Nairobi, Riyadh, Seoul, Taipei, Tel Aviv, and Toronto.