The Middle East is rapidly shedding its mysterious skin, and cities like Doha are certainly leading the way. Standing as the capital of Qatar, Doha is like a busy ants nest continuously on the rise. Over the past decade, the city has surpassed many of the more well-known centres of Middle Eastern culture and commerce, to become a prominent force in today’s global world.
Once upon a time, Doha was nothing more than a few-hour stopover between the Asia/Pacific and Europe. However, this has long since changed, as Doha has now become the new Dubai, and is steadily growing in acceptance as a stand-alone tourist destination.
With the growing number of tourists visiting Doha, or at least staying for a several-day stopover, the city and its skyline is constantly on the move. Doha hotels are among the most renowned in the Persian Gulf, second only to Dubai’s ferocious appetite for accommodation construction. Sources suggest that in several years, Doha may even surpass cities like Dubai as the region’s most important city, on account of the massive recent investment heading into the nation of Qatar.
While visiting Doha, travellers have a range of opportunities for sightseeing and entertainment.
Souks: Doha does contain a wide range of shopping malls and department stores, although these can also be found throughout much of the western world. For a unique experience, the local souqs, otherwise known as markets, are a great place to experience Qatari culture and remain one of the city’s most alluring landmarks. The souqs in Doha have a range of goods for sale, but the best part of the adventure is the haggling of prices…which goes part and parcel with souq shopping.
Museums: several interesting museums dot the Doha cityscape. Probably the most famous museum in Doha, and quite possibly the Persian Gulf region, is the Museum of Islamic Arts, situated on the port of Doha. Islamic dynasties from all over Asia are on display within the museum. The Qatar National Museum is also quite popular among travellers.
Historical: there are quite a number of historically important attractions located around the city of Doha. The old Ottoman fort, known as Al Koot Fort, is now an abandoned building that still manages to attract thousands of photo-happy tourists each year. The Heritage Village in Doha’s Al Rumeilia Park is the perfect place for tourists to see traditional handicrafts and arts in full swing. The clock tower, situated close to the Grand Mosque, is more famous for its views of the Corniche then its Arabic numeral features.
Family: if visitors think Doha is just for culture enthusiasts then think again. Doha has worked hard on developing its tourism sector for families, and currently boasts about half a dozen interesting landmarks that are fit for the whole family. The Doha Zoo is one of the most captivating attractions. Here, visitors can catch a glimpse of the Oryx. The seaside promenade, also known as the Corniche, boasts several parks and stunning water views. Finally, Aladdin’s Kingdom is the most popular theme park in Qatar. It is important that visitors contact the theme park before arriving, to make sure of entry requirements, as some days are set aside for women only, and others are family orientated.
There are several options for travellers to get from one attraction to the other. However, this is certainly one area of tourism that Doha has to improve on greatly. Buses can be unreliable, and limited to boot. Taxis are occasionally unmarked, and sometimes fail to have a metre, so bargaining the fare is not uncommon. Car rentals are probably the most convenient transport available, but an international license is usually required by most rental companies.
Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Doha Hotels content.