What to see on an extended layover in Doha

written by Julia Hammond

If you’re changing flights in Doha, why not hang around for a few days to discover what the city has to offer? The capital of Qatar has changed immeasurably over recent years. These days, it offers plenty of reasons to hang around for a while. Here’s what not to miss.

Museum of Islamic Art

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This distinctive structure opened in 2008. Designed by IM Pei, who won the prestigious Pritzker Prize, the five-storey building surrounds a courtyard and is topped off by a tower containing a domed atrium. The museum’s impressive collection traces the impact of 1400 years of Islamic art. Ceramics, glassware, ancient manuscripts and textiles are among the many exhibits on display.

National Museum of Qatar

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Rivalling the Museum of Islamic Art, this exceptional collection tells of Qatar’s history and the rapid change it has undergone in recent decades, not to mention its rich heritage, culture and people. Crystalline desert roses inspired another Pritzker Prize recipient, Jean Nouvel. He came up with the innovative design. The museum was built around Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani’s original palace.

Souq Waqif

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It’s always fun to visit a souq and of course, Doha’s is no exception. Built in traditional architectural style, this maze of alleyways was extensively renovated in 2006 after a devastating fire. You’ll find a mesmerising array of gifts and other items including clothing, spices and handicrafts. As well, there are a handful of restaurants and cafés. In spring, it’s the setting for a festival which features music, acrobats and theatrical performances.

The Corniche

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This waterfront boulevard stretches for miles. It is the ideal setting for an early morning jog or an evening stroll. When they constructed the bay, engineers fashioned this beautiful crescent shaped promenade from landfill. Today, its parks, walking paths and cycle trails offer a superb view of the Arabian Gulf.

The Pearl Qatar

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This manmade island near Doha’s prestigious West Bay District is built on reclaimed land. It boasts a flashy marina filled with yachts. With plenty of premium designer boutiques and gorgeous landscaped gardens, it’s a place that more than lives up to its nickname of the Arabian Riviera. Stay here in the Hilton, Kempinski or St Regis hotels or visit for dinner in one of its many waterfront restaurants. If your budget won’t stretch to either, simply take a stroll and dream.

The malls

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Doha contains several excellent shopping malls. Their air-conditioning makes them an attractive proposition if you’re visiting in the height of the Qatari summer. The Mall of Qatar, located beside the Al Rayyan stadium, contains over 500 retail and dining outlets. Meanwhile the Villaggio features a Venetian-style canal complete with gondolas and a focus on high-end luxury. Just a short walk from West Bay hotels like the W and Four Seasons, City Center Mall is vast, with a cinema and ice rink.

Keen to visit Doha? Why not discuss stopovers or a longer stay with the Mundana team?

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