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doha 101

The very besT of qaTar’s enTicing capiTal

hotels culture sights activities restaurants

kanoo world traveller 2012/13


Burning ambition There is no denying Qatar’s unstoppable desire to compete on the world stage. Just two years ago, it was announced that this would be the host country for the FIFA World Cup in 2022, and it has also embarked on an aggressive investment drive – with luxury London store Harrods and Italian fashion brand Valentino among its purchases. While its capital, Doha, remains small compared to other cities in the region, there are signs of exceptional growth, with luxury hotels, Michelin-starred chefs and an impressive number of international sporting events all putting it in their sights. The development required to host the World Cup will be unprecedented, but there’s no doubting this is the place to pull it off. Now’s the time to pay a visit, to see it all unfold…

About This Guide We’ve compiled the 101 best things about Doha and placed them into simple-to-reference sections, making it easy for you to plan your trip. Our recommendations endeavour to cater for all tastes and desires, providing a well-rounded view of the city and its myriad attractions.

Contents

Doha

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The Hotels – the best of the city’s varied boltholes

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The Restaurants – where to go for an exceptional meal

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The Sights & Culture – the city’s must-see spots, plus cultural highlights

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qATAr

The Activities – how to best enjoy the city’s sand, sea and air

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Produced by HOT Media Publishing FZ LLC

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Welcome to Doha

Your ultimate guide to getting to and around the qatar capital Getting there There are countless airlines, big and small, operating within the GCC and offering flights to Doha. For ticketing information, visit your nearest Kanoo Travel or American Express Travel Outlet.

Transport Admittedly, finding your way around Doha can be tricky. The city’s official taxi service is branded Karwa, with the cars painted green and featuring a maroon roof, yet finding one to flag down is not easy. Many queue up at the airport and the major shopping malls, so you can always be sure of getting one there, but it becomes difficult anywhere else. Hotels will offer their own driver service, but be warned that the cost for these is far higher than the Karwa taxis. Most residents living in Doha get around using a local limo service – if you get chatting to anybody from the city, ask them, and maybe they will share the details of a person they recommend. 4 Doha 101

When your transportation is arranged, most drivers will be familiar with the main hotels, sightseeing areas and shopping centres, but places that are a little off the beaten track can be a challenge due to the lack of street names throughout the city. Try to get your concierge to write out detailed directions for you that include a wellknown landmark. If you want to drive yourself, there is an array of car rental firms at the airport offering a range of vehicles for budget. Doha is small, with the main areas stretching along the coastline, so it’s fairly easy to navigate.

Money The Qatari Riyal is the official currency of Qatar. Banknotes are available in 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 notes, and there are ATMs dotted all over the city should you need to withdraw money. For ease of reference there is 1 Saudi Riyal to 1 Qatari Riyal, 1 UAE dirham to 1 Qatar Riyal, and 10 Bahrain Dinars to 1 Qatari Riyal.


1 The position Forbes magazine gave Qatar recently in its World’s Richest Countries list.

985 Number of acres of reclaimed land that manmade island The PearlQatar represents.

2022 The year that Qatar is working towards, when it hosts the FIFA World Cup.

700,000,000 Amount in Euros that the Qatar royal family is said to have paid for Italian brand Valentino.

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Capital ideas for what to do while you’re here...

October

November

December

January

Giuseppe Verdi’s Opera Aida is performed in the Katara Cultural Village amphitheatre on two nights, with elegant sets and sophisticated costumes.

The Doha Tribeca Film Festival will be held at Katara Cultural Village from Nov 17-24. Expect Hollywood premieres and local talent to boot.

Time to get reading, as the Doha 23rd International Book Fair gets under way from Dec 5-15 at the Doha Exhibition Centre, complete with visiting authors, printers and publishers.

Some of the world’s best male tennis players will be in town for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. See the likes of Roger Federer and Andy Murray on the court.

February

March

April

May

The second Tuesday in February is Qatar’s annual National Sports Day. Events and demonstrations will take place across Doha.

Look out for the Qatar Marine Festival, which takes place every year at Katara Cultural Village, with entertainment honouring Doha’s maritime traditions.

Qatar kicks off the MotoGP season on Apr 7, with a chance to see riders such as Valentino Rossi racing at Losail Circuit.

Developers, architects and designers head to Doha Exhibition Centre for Cityscape Qatar 2013, from May 22-24.

June

July

August

September

A celebration of local fashion can be found at the Doha Exhibition Centre, as the Hya Abaya Exhibition begins (also held in September).

The Holy Month of Ramadan will start around Jul 9, making for a real festive atmosphere across town when night falls.

The Doha Fun Park is usually set up within the halls of the Doha Exhibition Centre about now to rescue kids – and their parents – from summer boredom.

The World Nine-Ball Championships are set to run in Doha from Sep 2-13 at the Al Sadd Sports Club. A total prize purse of US$300,000 will be up for grabs.

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INTRODUCING YOUR NEXT DESTINATION Book your stay at Hilton Doha and experience style and service taken to new heights. Set on the waterfront with its own private beach and outdoor pool, this brand new hotel has 309 guest rooms and suites, all offering breathtaking views across the Arabian Gulf. Dining options cater for every taste and occasion, with six exceptional restaurants and bars on site, including Trader Vic’s. Emerge brighter at eforea:spa at Hilton and stay fit at the state-of-the-art gym facilities by Hilton Fitness by Precor®. For room reservations, please visit hilton.com or call +974 4423 3333

© Hilton Worldwide 2012


The Hotels

There is no shortage of places to stay in Doha, with hotels featuring top notch facilities, world-class spas and even panoramic views across the Gulf...

One of Doha’s finest, and most unique hotels, can be found very close to the airport. The Sharq Village & Spa, operated by Ritz-Carlton (ritzcarlton.com), is less than five minutes away, and stands out due to its fantastic Arabic architecture, complete with its own mock souk. It also has 350 metres of private coastline, excellent restaurants, focal and infinity pools, and best of all the superb Six Senses Spa, with 23 treatment rooms. Those travellers looking for a more practical stopover near the airport may prefer the Doha Marriott Hotel (marriott-doha.com). This five-star hotel offers a number of amenities for the business traveller, plus a fitness centre and spa, private beach and outdoor swimming pool. Other highlights include JW’s, serving fantastic steaks, and the Pearl Lounge, with a different music theme every night.

Of course, you may want to be near Doha’s main attractions and a stay at Souk Waqif Boutique Hotels (swbh.com) puts you right in the centre of its best – Souk Waqif comes alive particularly at night, with locals and tourists gathering to explore its shops or smoke shisha. Souk Waqif Boutique Hotels is a brilliant addition to Doha’s accommodation offering, and, in fact, to the wider GCC too, such is its uniqueness in the region. It’s comprised of six hotels in all, each within the area of the souk, each one exclusive in its design, architecture and atmosphere, and all excellent. Al Mirqab steers towards traditional Arabic design, Amuraila is contemporary and stylish – and twinned with a hotel in London – while if you’re in the mood for indulgence you should book a long weekend at Al Jasra. Delightful. Doha 101

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Previous page: Arumaila of Souk Waqif Boutique Hotels. This page, top to bottom: Renaissance City Centre Doha; Hilton Doha. Opposite page, left to right: InterContinental Doha The City lobby; A bedroom at W Doha Hotel & Residences.

Speaking of indulgence, head to the St. Regis Doha (stregisdoha.com) and you’ll be waited on by your very own butler. This property has racked up a number of awards since its official opening in early 2012, and provides a butler to each of its 336 rooms, including 70 suites. All offer sea views, with other notable attractions including the Remède Spa and its 22 treatment rooms, plus great food at its two Gordon Ramsay restaurants. It also shares its coastline with the InterContinental Doha (ichotelsgroup.com), which can be found right next door. A slightly older hotel, many of its facilities remain among the city’s best. For example, the Belgian Café is one of Doha’s most popular nightspots, and the Bay Club fitness centre has a packed timetable of classes. The InterContinental Beach is also the city’s choice when it comes to hosting big concerts, so be sure to check local entertainment listings when in town. It is perhaps down to the popularity of this original location that resulted in the brand opening a second Doha venue, and the InterContinental Doha – The City (icshotelsgroup.com) over in West Bay. A mixture of hotel rooms and apartments, this excellent property leans more towards the business traveller, with meeting rooms rather than coastline views. Eight restaurants and lounges are located within, with a well-equipped fitness centre on the 46th floor. In fact, many of the hotels in West Bay cater to the business set. At the Mövenpick Tower & Suites Doha (moevenpick-hotels.com), for example, guests can choose one of 350 contemporary rooms, including 40 suites, and complement their use of the various meeting rooms with wind-down time in the gym or indoor pool. All rooms have kitchenettes, too. Scaling similar heights, and claiming to be the tallest building in West Bay when it first opened, the Kempinski Residences & Suites Doha (kempinski.com) set a new standard in other ways too. Featuring 370 suites – plus a Sky Villa on the 61st and 62nd floors – guests can make use of some fantastic gym and spa facilities, courtesy of the Pure Leisure & Wellness Centre, and great food – either dining in at Aroma, or taking away from Gourmet House, one of the city’s best delicatessens. 8

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‘Souk Waqif Boutique Hotels is a brilliant addition to Doha’s accommodation offering, and, in fact, to the wider GCC too, such is its uniqueness in the region’

Food is also one of the main draws at the W Doha Hotel & Residences (whoteldoha.com) – it has two restaurants presided over by Michelin-starred chef JeanGeorges Vongerichten, while unbelievable sweet treats and cupcakes can be found at the W Café. The nightlife here is also a strong pull, with its two venues Crystal and Wahm always packed out, while the Bliss Spa has been showered in accolades since it opened. Similar compliments have found their way to the Four Seasons Hotel Doha (fourseasons.com/doha), right on the edge of West Bay and therefore benefitting from watery views. There are 232 rooms, with 57 suites. Unlike many hotels in West Bay, this also has a beachfront, with a three-level outdoor grotto pool and two tennis courts alongside the other facilities, such as the gym, spa and restaurants. Another West Bay hotel boasting a private beach is also one of its newest, the Hilton Doha (3.hilton.com). On offer is a choice of guestrooms, suites and executive rooms, many with sea views. There is also a fitness centre, pool and the eforea:spa at Hilton. Of its six food outlets, the myriad offerings of Trader Vic’s have made this the most popular.

Yet more West Bay additions can be found next to the City Centre shopping mall, and the aptly named Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel (marriott.co.uk). Its two towers each stand 19 floors high, with a total of 234 rooms and 23 suites. Plenty of amenities can be found within, including the Saray Spa, gym and outdoor pools, plus nine restaurants and lounges. And if you like the idea of having shopping close at hand, the Grand Hyatt Doha (doha.grand.hyatt.com) is further out of town, opposite Lagoona Mall. Most of the luxury rooms and suites here feature balconies and sea views, while indoor and outside pools, the renowned Jaula Spa and a 400-metre private beach will help pass the time. A number of standalone residences and beachfront villas can be found here too. Alternatively, opt for nearby The Ritz-Carlton, Doha (ritzcarlton.com). Rooms here look over the water, the Pearl-Qatar, and also the hotel’s manicured lawns, with a fantastic spa and fitness centre, both indoor and outdoor pools, and even a 235-berth marina and clubhouse all in close proximity. Ocean views can also be had from Doha Corniche, on the other side of town between the airport and West Bay, at Fraser Suites Doha (frasershospitality.com). Housed Doha 101

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Swimming pool at the St. Regis Doha

within are 138 serviced apartments, over 14 floors, from comfortable studios to three-bedroom suites. There is also a rooftop swimming pool, sauna, gym, restaurant, penthouse meeting room, executive club lounge, free shuttle bus and a kids’ club. But there are still some great hotels away from the coastline. One of the city’s old favourites, the Ramada Plaza Doha, recently rebranded itself as the Radisson Blu Hotel, Doha (radissonblu.com). With a range of rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, workout room, squash and tennis courts, it’s the restaurants and lounges this venue is known for, with the singing waiters at The Italian Job and the monthly quiz at Shehrazad pulling in the crowds. Another hotel rebranded a few years’ back was the Wyndham Grand Regency (wyndhamgrandregency.com). It feels noticeably older than some of the other hotels in town, but that is all part of its charm, and it still has an impressive range of suites. The swimming pool and fitness centre form part of the leisure facilities, but the real highlight is the Angsana Spa, with its sensory treatments and hydrotherapy room. Walking from here to the Centre Point shopping centre will also take you past the Millennium Hotel Doha (millenniumhotels.com). This features 226 rooms over seven floors, with a number of suites. An indoor rooftop pool, gym, spa and Turkish bath are included, plus a plethora of all-day dining restaurants and a great Lebanese eatery. 10

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For a livelier stay, head to La Cigale Hotel (lacigalehotel.com), well known for its nightlife venues. Some fantastic artists play nightly at Madison Piano Bar, from sultry blues to jazz, or opt for the mellow DJ tunes at Sky View Bar, overlooking the city. You will find a number of different room offerings too, with food ranging from Italian to sushi. A newer option inland, and nearer to the souks and museums, is the Swiss-Belhotel Doha (swiss-belhotel. com). With 165 guestrooms and 78 serviced apartments, this caters well to the business traveller, but also has a health club, outdoor pool and a good Japanese restaurant. Similarly, the Oryx Rotana Doha (rotana.com) is another recent opening referring to itself as a business hotel, but it may still suit the casual tourist. Located just five minutes from Souk Waqif, it is perfect for exploring the city, while the Bodylines Leisure & Fitness Club, the tapas at The Cellar and the excellent live music at the Jazz Club is enough to keep you indoors. And it looks like Doha’s new hotels won’t be stopping there. Set to open in 2013 is a five-star Shangri-La Hotel, next to the City Centre mall in West Bay, with a four-star Traders Hotel just 300 metres away, both operated by Shangri-La (shangri-la.com). Each will have rooms, suites and serviced apartments, and all of the facilities you would expect, but the Shangri-La goes a stage further, introducing the brand’s signature CHI, The Spa.


Celebrate Eid Al Adha with your family at Crowne Plaza Doha-The Business Park and enjoy special room rates starting from QAR 699, inclusive of complimentary buffet breakfast for one person. For reservations, call +974 44087611. CROWNEPLAZA.COM/DOHABP


The Restaurants

Doha can bring you fantastic cuisine from home and abroad, with Michelin-starred chefs, revolving restaurants and al fresco dining among the highlights Some of the world’s most famous chefs have been visiting Qatar. Head to the St. Regis Doha hotel and you can eat at Gordon Ramsay (+974 4446 0105) – named after the Hell’s Kitchen star himself. This is classic fine dining, with dishes like beef carpaccio topped with foie gras or mushroom cannelloni and truffle sauce. For something more relaxed, try Opal by Gordon Ramsay (+974 4446 0105) instead, right next door in the same venue, which serves fantastic pizza. Both eateries share an indoor garden area, The Conservatory, where it is possible to enjoy a drink of your choice before sitting down to eat. But Ramsay is a mere newcomer to the city compared to Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who launched two restaurants at the W Doha Hotel & Residences years earlier. Market by Jean-Georges (+974 4453 5135) serves up classic contemporary European dishes and has one of the best business lunches in town. Then upstairs is Spice Market (+974 4453 5353), serving sushi, noodles and rice dishes inspired by the street food of South East Asia. Head to Katara Cultural Village, and you will find Saffron Lounge (+974 3325 8919), with a menu devised by Michelin-starred Indian chef Vineet Bhatia. Classic dishes from different regions of India are on offer, each with modern presentation. Or perhaps try Pampano (+974 4495 3876 ext 1221) at The Pearl-Qatar, where you can sample the Mexican-themed seafood of restaurateur Richard Sandoval, in the venue he opened with tenor Placido Domingo. And if you’re on The Pearl, you could actually dine under the roof of another famous name – although one connected with fashion rather than food. But the Emporio Armani Caffe (+974 4495 3876 ext. 3210) can still turn up a few surprises alongside your frothy cappuccino. However, if it isn’t a big name that guarantees good food, then it must be the setting. Al Mourjan (+974 5579 5039) scores major points for being the only restaurant along the Corniche. The Lebanese food is good, the views over the city skyline and the water stunning, and there is a shisha lounge too. 12 Doha 101

Three Sixty (+974 4446 5600), meanwhile, found on the 47th floor of The Torch hotel, is Doha’s first and so far only revolving restaurant. A range of food is offered, but the highlight is the high tea served at 4pm-6pm daily, eaten as you stare at the buildings below. If you like the idea of a great view, but prefer them to be stationary, head to La Mer (+974 4484 8000) at Doha’s


Ritz-Carlton. Somewhat nearer to the ground on the 23rd floor, the prices are a little higher, with fine French fusion cuisine on offer. The décor is chic, making this a popular choice for a romantic meal. Similar thought has been applied to Porcini (+974 4484 8000), also in the Ritz-Carlton, but this time slightly below ground level rather than above it. This Italian restaurant, named after the mushroom used in so many of the country’s dishes, has a cosy ambience, with some excellent pasta and meat dishes. In fact, it is the city’s hotels where many of Doha’s best restaurants can be found. If you’re in the mood for steak, there are two places that spring to mind. The JW Steakhouse (+974 4429 8888) at the Doha Marriott

is the old favourite, serving everything from rib eye to T-bone as you wait eagerly in your leather-clad chair. The New York Steakhouse (+974 4419 6100) at the Renaissance Doha City Centre, meanwhile, matches its great steaks with inspired appetisers and desserts. Much has been said of the restaurants at the Four Seasons Doha, such as Il Teatro (+974 4494 8888), which for many years was considered to serve some of the best Italian food in the city from its plush interior. There is more competition these days, including the hotel’s newest opening, Nusantao: Sea Kitchens (+974 4494 8888). This has a sushi bar, dumpling steamers, tandoor ovens and more in full view, serving its panAsian food with a side order of theatrics.

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‘Arumaila houses the ever popular Al Canteen where an international feast of fine flavours is offered daily’

The Grand Hyatt Doha has a number of restaurants worth visiting too. Isaan (+974 4448 1234) is highly regarded by fans of Thai cuisine, with its sharing platters and curries capturing the intricate flavours of Bangkok. Or, for a taste of the Mediterranean, head to Rocca (+974 4448 1234), in its own separate building outside by the swimming pools. Here you can enjoy Moroccan dishes and pizza, and at night it turns into a lively bar. If you want to head outside of the hotels and into the city to discover which restaurants Doha has to offer, head first to Souq Waqif. At night this place is always busy, 14 Doha 101

with a buzzing atmosphere. Moroccan restaurant Tajine (+974 4437 3330) is a good bet here, serving fantastic stews, zingy salads and soft, tender chicken. As one of Doha’s key cultural attractions, it’s no surprise to find an abundance of Middle-Eastern-themed restaurants in the souq, so after visiting Morocco head to Iran and Isfahan Garden (+974 4441 9737). The large paintings and sculptures set the mood, with a buffet arrangement in the centre. Guests can take food, including kebabs and flatbreads, with the option to sit and eat on the floor, as is the traditional way.


While most restaurants in Souq Waqif are very reasonably priced, you may find yourself paying slightly more at Jasmine Thai Restaurant (+974 4443 1601). There is no outdoor area either, but the payoff is an elegant setting and fantastic, authentic food. The green curry and Thai iced tea with milk are particularly impressive, and most of the ingredients are flown in from Thailand. And no matter where you eat in the souk, make sure you stop by La Dolce Vita (+974 4436 7991). While the rustic setting and homely Italian food is worth visiting for a meal in itself, the real star here is the homemade gelato. Try the melon variety and you will not be disappointed. Souq Waqif is also home to the cluster of beautiful boutique hotels, one of which, Arumaila, houses the ever popular Al Canteen (+974 4433 6777) where an international feast of fine flavours is offered daily. Moving away from Souq Waqif, another area that similarly celebrates local tradition and brings more great restaurants together is the aforementioned Katara Cultural Village. This benefits from a waterside location and its own beach, with a great variety of food on offer. One highlight is L’Wzaar (+974 4408 0710), just next to Vineet Bhatia’s Saffron Lounge, where you can choose from an array of fresh fish, laid out on ice and charged by weight, and have it cooked perfectly to your liking. Also worth a visit is the Khan Farouk Tarab Café (+974 4408 0840), serving up brilliant Egyptian-style street food, such as stuffed mombar sausages, or hawashi, a meat-filled fried bread. Live music plays constantly and the restaurant is always packed. Stick around after your meal for shisha. The newest eatery in Katara, also worth a look, is Mamig (+974 4408 0800), which caused a stir when it first opened for being the first Armenian restaurant in the city, with just a hint of Lebanese thrown in. Mamig means ‘grandmother’ in Armenian, with the venue aiming for homely, authentic food. Order the set menu and prepare to be surprised. Of course, it could be that a heavy meal is not required and you require something smaller. The Red Velvet Cupcakery (+974 4408 1604) will hit the sweet spot, with décor as sugary and colourful as the treats it serves – even the chairs are shaped like cupcakes. Or head to Indian

Opening page: A selection of dishes from Opal by Gordon Ramsay. Opposite page: Al Canteen. This page: Gordon Ramsay restaurant.

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This page: Market by Jean-Georges

‘Market by Jean-Georges serves up classic contemporary European dishes and has one of the best business lunches in town’ café Chapati & Karak (+974 4408 1408) for a cup of sweet, fragrant karak tea and a chapati. Just look for the long queue of cars leading up to it, waiting to be served. Back at The Pearl-Qatar, there are plenty of options for an outdoor, waterside setting. Bice Ristorante (+974 4495 3876 ext 1441) and Burj Al Hamam (+971 4495 3876 ext. 1291) are arguably its two most popular restaurants, for entirely different reasons – the Italian food at Bice is good, but it’s the views across to the skyline towards West Bay that must be seen, while Burj Al Hamam offers the chance to experience excellent Lebanese cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere. 16 Doha 101

Meanwhile Tse Yang (+974 4495 3876 ext. 2071) also demands attention, with its mirrors and chandeliers creating a cosmopolitan feel usually expected of London or New York. And the very impressive Chinese food sets a similar standard, with the Peking duck carved at your table side a must-try. Midori (+974 4495 3876 ext 6779) is this location’s most recent opening, serving up delectable Japanese cuisine, encompassing everything from sushi and sashimi to noodles and bento boxes. Portions are big, so be sure to leave room for dessert, as the tempura fried ice cream is divine.


Another World

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The Sights and Culture

Doha shows its heritage proudly, with places to experience Bedouin hospitality or learn about Islam. Not only that, but you can become immersed in local art and history too... For exploring culture in Doha, one of the best places to start is the Museum of Islamic Art (+974 4422 4444). This distinctive angular building was designed by ChineseAmerican architect I.M. Pei, and is a work of art in itself. Housed inside is a permanent display of Islamic artefacts from the region, and a library, with additional exhibitions hosted regularly. New facilities opened in the grounds recently to help make its range of attractions even more varied. The other much talked about cultural spot in Doha is Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art (+974 4487 6662), a

18 Doha 101

little further out, in Education City. Closed for the summer, its reopening this autumn will allow visitors to see the work of artists from every Arab country, from as far back as the 1840s, as part of a permanent collection, with rotating exhibitions and workshops featuring also. Doha also maintains its heritage in other ways. No visit here is complete without a trip to Souq Waqif, with its maze of alleyways and quirky shops, as well as packed shisha cafÊs and restaurants. The souk also has free Wi-Fi, to be enjoyed wherever you sit, proving that it truly is a modern take on one of the city’s oldest attractions.


Opening page: Museum of Isalmic Art. Next page: Souq Waqif.

It is in Souk Waqif that you will also find the Al Markhiya Gallery (+974 4441 1305), which aims to promote talent in Qatar by working with international venues. Both emerging and established artists from across the Middle East can be found here. The Katara Cultural Village (+974 4408 0000) is another location designed to promote local culture. Its restaurants offer a wide range of cuisine, with buildings dotted throughout housing various artistic societies and institutions. It has all been built around its centrepiece, a huge open-air amphitheatre, which hosts concerts by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as dance shows and theatre. The Doha Film Institute is housed in Katara, and every autumn hosts the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which it organises, with stars such as Robert De Niro visiting. There are a number of art centres at Katara, but biggest is the QMA Gallery (+974 4422 4805), which hosts a range of both local and international exhibitions, covering photography, archaeology, sport and more. It recently hosted the work of late French artist Louise Bouregois. And if it’s galleries that appeal, the VCUQ Gallery (+974 4492 7200), at the Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar, usually has something with a local angle to inspire both its students and its visitors. Plus it’s a chance to snoop around one of the city’s most extravagant educational facilities. If you visit during the cooler months, it’s worth planning a walk along Doha Corniche, starting at the Museum of Islamic Art and heading towards West Bay. As well as the

blue skies and clear waters, there are some unusual sights too, such as the statue of Orry the Oryx, next to the Al Mourjan restaurant, which was the mascot for the 2006 Asian Games. And be sure to stop for a close look at the dhows. These traditional wooden trading ships have been used in the region for years, and if you talk to one of the captains you might even be able to negotiate a ride. Your exploration of the Corniche will also take you via Al Bida Park, in the Rumailah district. This has a play area for children but also the Doha Heritage Village, where it is possible to see Qatari nationals making traditional foods and practising arts and crafts. Culture and heritage is also at the forefront of Fanar: Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre (+974 4425 0250), which is particularly handy for non-Muslims wishing to learn more about Islam. The venue offers a mosque tour, the chance to experience Arabic hospitality and also ask questions. And there are other souks in the city beside Souk Waqif. Be sure to visit the Falcon Souk, which is actually close by. These birds are highly prized in Arabic culture, and you can walk around the showroom area or even see them being exercised by their trainers. Souk Al Deira is another must-see, sometimes known as ‘the fabric souk’, and the one to go to for affordable tailoring. Shops overflowing with different materials litter the alleyways, and the tailors inside are incredibly skilled. Not far from here, you will also find the Gold Souk. The shop windows have a certain glow, and all items within are priced by weight. See what you can find, but don’t be afraid to haggle. With your credit card suitably dented, why not see what there is beyond the city, either with a tour company or hire car? Arabian Adventures Qatar (arabianadventureqatar.net) or Qatar Adventure (qataradventure.com) can help here, and highlights may include Zekreet, around an hour from Doha, with a farm housing both oryx and ostrich. The horned oryx is a national symbol of Qatar and definitely worth a look. More wildlife can be found in Al Shahaniya, about 45 minutes from Doha. Here, camels roam free and you can spot them being trained along the roadside. A stadium is nearby, which hosts camel races regularly, usually on Saturdays. And an unusual natural phenomenon that’s not to be missed is the ‘singing’ sand dunes. It’s best to attempt this with an experienced guide who can find the exact spot. But basically, as the wind crosses the sand in Doha 101

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‘Souk Al Deira is another must-see, sometimes known as ‘the fabric souk’, and the one to go to for affordable tailoring. Shops overflowing with different materials litter the alleyways, and the tailors inside are incredibly skilled’ a particular location, an odd haunting moan can be heard. Just north of Doha are Barzan Tower and Umm Salal Mohammed Fort. Recently restored, Barzan Tower was built in the 19th century and originally used as a lookout point, featuring three levels and an external staircase. Admission is free, with snacks available. If you can get to Jebal Jassassiyeh, you can also see artefacts from even further back in time, with ancient 20 Doha 101

petroglyphs or rock drawings found in the cliff face. The sketches show boats and buildings from a forgotten time, with fish fossils in between. And from Doha’s past, don’t forget to glimpse its future. The Pearl-Qatar (thepearlqatar.com) is an impressive man-made island, located back in the city near West Bay. It features a range of shops and restaurants, with walkways and marinas, and also hosts myriad cultural events during Ramadan.


The Activities

Sport takes centre stage in Doha’s list of pursuits, but there are also fantastic shops and spas to enjoy

Activities and Adventure

Malaysia is a dream destination for adventurous types and families who want to get out and about to enjoy the great outdoors. There are hundreds of wonderous expeditions to choose from: here’s our pick of the country... One of the biggest names for families visiting

series of excellent rubber ring rides.

Malaysia is Genting Highlands, an hour’s drive

Further south in Melaka, you’ll find the A’Famosa

northeast of Kuala Lumpur. This place is the king of

resort. As well as having top golf facilities and a

resorts and can be accessed via the lofty Genting

super-fun waterpark, A’Famosa is famed for its

Skyway cable car. It’s home to three separate

animal attractions, notably the Animal World

theme parks, including a water park, an outdoor

Safari. Here you can take a trip around 150

theme park and the first world indoor theme park,

beautiful acres and see zebras, tigers, camels,

all of which are stacked to the rafters with brilliant

giraffes, elephants and lions, before popping over

rides and attractions. You could spend a good few

to Monkey Island to meet the primates. You can

days working your way around this place, so be

also let your little ones pet camels, rabbits and

certain not to miss out on key rides, like the Rolling

ponies. In Teluk Sengat in the south east, there’s an

Thunder Mine Train, the Sungai Rejang Flume Ride

incredible Crocodile Farm, where over a thousand

and the fabulously fun Bumper Boats. The resort is

toothsome beauties are on show. Take a tour and

also home to five performance areas, which host

watch the crocs being fed fish and whole chickens,

place each January, and promoted withdare. an Even though the fantastic FIFA World Cup is–another years to see what’s concerts check in10 advance before picking upisausually baby snapper – if you away, Doha is already carving a reputation for sport. on during youritself visit…

exhibition game another set up atwonderworld an unusual location – this Nearby, for animal fansyear is

take onOstrich Rafael Farm Nadalinplay in the Katara There are a numberMeanwhile, of major events within city, drive saw Federer just a held quarter of anthe hour’s the brilliant Sungai Rengit, where but inbeing the past theyby have with visitors given the chance to experience the facilities outside of Kuala Lumpur is Desa Water Park, Cultural Village you canamphitheatre, view baby ostriches tended their on aMeanwhile, dhow and over eveninsuspended by a crane first hand. At Doha Golfcity Club (+974 to 4496 0777), for a mini devoted aquatic pleasures. Bring traded shots parents. Sabah in Malaysian Waqif.there are jaw-dropping sights on offer example, you canyour playswimming a round on the same costume andcourse spendthat a day beingover Souk Borneo, football youUtan would like to see, to check Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson both claimed knocked about by previously the Shock Wave, zipping alongOr perhaps at the it’s Sepilok Orang Sanctuary. Located in on Doha’s development of coast, its 2022 The victory in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which on the Super Tube, chilling out in the Bubble Pool Sandakan out onahead the east thisgames. place allows a orange few big takes place everyand February. Lessons are available too, screaming your head off as you descend Khalifa International you to get up Stadium close withhas thehosted majestic international friendlies in the past, including vs and the club alsoAction features theand onlythe bowls green Thunderbolt, in the River legendary Asia’s beasts, which are looked after as partEngland of Malaysia’s Middle East.

Brazil, and Brazil vs Argentina, or if you can catch a local longest Master Blaster. Up in Sungai Petani in the eco-protection programme.

game in theIf Qatar Stars youare may Then down thenorth road,there’s by signing up great for either lessonssomewhat another – although smaller – butLeague equally(qsl.com.qa), cute – creatures more former Madrid Raul, who recently or a game at the Khalifa Tennis & Squash smaller –International waterpark, The Carnivall, which has aget to see your thing,Real head to thestriker Penang Butterfly Farm in Complex (+974 4440 9666), you can perhaps recreate the excitement of Roger Federer or Andy Murray’s past games from the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open. That takes Malaysia 101_activities.indd 21

signed to the Al Sadd team. The other big international sport to be found Malaysia here is 101the 21 Moto GP, held each spring at the Losail Circuit (+974 4472 Doha 101 21 10/28/2010 10:50:40 AM


9151), and one of the few night races on the calendar. But even when the motorbikes aren’t on the track, there are still many other races to enjoy, or perhaps catch eager locals taking their own vehicles for a race. You don’t have to head out with aspirations of being an international sporting superstar. Al Shaqab (+974 4454 6320), for example, is the region’s leading equine education resource centre, specialising in the breeding of Arabian horses. Naturally, there is a riding centre too, where visitors can book lessons. Or for something less formal, and with a group of friends, an evening at the Qatar Bowling Centre (+974 4444 3355) is a good bet, with 32 lanes ensuring you always get a game. Just in case you can’t, head to Hotshots (+974 4465 7215) instead, where you can try your hand – and cue – at snooker or pool late into the night. Of course, it would be a shame not to take advantage of Doha’s coastline to pass some of your time. The Diplomatic Club (+974 4484 7407) can set you up with everything you might need for a few hours of waterskiing, and there is wakeboarding and banana boating too. The Regatta Sailing Academy (+974 4484 4444), near to Doha’s InterContinental Hotel, will get you into the boat rather than behind it, while Ronatuica Middle East (+974 4496 5801) will get you onboard but relaxing with rods, GPS and a refrigerator full of chilled drinks as part of an off-shore fishing trip. These can be booked for up to six people – and makes for a great day out. Kids like the water too, so maybe a trip to Aqua Park Qatar (+974 4490 5872), the city’s only waterpark, is in order, with little ones getting to try the wave pool, slides and lazy river. Fridays here are family days, while Tuesdays are for ladies only. And after all that excitement, treat the little ones to a snack and the chance to decorate their own crockery at Café Ceramique (+974 4467 1100), located at The Mall. Imaginations and paints tend to run wild here, with the finished plates and cups potentially making great gifts.

If you don’t quite have the time or patience for that, maybe the city’s malls can help you find the perfect memento. Lagoona Mall, by the Grand Hyatt Doha, is one of the newest, benefitting from its giant 51 East (+974 4425 7777) department store, which even has a Marie Luisa boutique, featuring items handpicked by the head offices in Paris.

22 Doha 101

The nearby Pearl-Qatar is another shopping haven, with boutiques here from many well-known designer names. Head to Dados Boutique (+974 4495 3876 ext. 1471) for something a little different, however, as the focus here tends to be on high-end Arabic designers. City Centre Doha (+974 4483 9990) in West Bay, meanwhile, gives the best all round shopping experience in the city, with plenty of high street chains. There are also some good distractions for the kids, including a sizeable iceskating rink. Don’t be afraid to spend time at a hotel either, even if it isn’t actually the one you are staying in. Many of Doha’s five-star hotels allow you to make use of their beach, pool and other facilities for a small fee. For example, the Four Seasons Doha (+974 4494 8888) is worth looking into for its multi-level pools, plus rocks and waterfalls, and of course the stretch of private beach. Or the InterContinental Doha (+974 4844 4444) really hits that Club Tropicana vibe, with its swim-up bars and endless fruit cocktails. Rates vary throughout the year, so always call ahead. Katara Cultural Village (+974 4408 0000) also has its own beach area, entry to which costs a small amount. Activities are available here, such as jet skis and parasailing, which all cost extra, but you’re near the galleries and restaurants of the Village itself too, providing lots of choice and making it a good option to help vary your day. But for any form of nightlife entertainment, it really is a case of heading back to the hotels. Once a month, Shehrazad at the Radisson Blu (+974 4428 1428) hosts the Laughter Factory, featuring guest comedians from the Comedy Store in London. Then a fantastic night of live music can be experienced at the newly-opened Jazz at Lincoln Center in the St. Regis Doha (+974 4446 0000). The performances begin at 9pm every night, with two on weeknights and three at weekends. If you prefer your nights a little livelier, but still fairly chilled, the Rocca restaurant at the Grand Hyatt Doha (+974 4448 1234) is transformed at weekends into a cool poolside party venue with guest DJs. Check out the weekly Fridays R Rocca, with music from Argentinian DJ Santiago Vittorelli. Need livelier still? Then Paloma at the InterContinental Doha (+974 4484 4444) could be the answer. This South American-themed lounge and restaurant always has a


‘At Doha Golf Club you can play a round on the same course that Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson both previously claimed victory in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters’

Doha 101

23


Opening page: Perfect your swing at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex. Previous page, clockwise from left: Golf on the greens; Dune bashing; The Khalifa International Stadium. This page: Set sail with the Regatta Sailing Academy.

lively band, but be sure to drop by for one of its legendary salsa nights to really get the pulse racing. It’s the hotels that tend to have some of the best spas in the city too, so get ready to plan a visit to one and relax. The Angsana Spa at the Wyndham Grand Regency (+974 4434 3152) is worth a look thanks to its fantastic hydrotherapy rooms. One minute you could be sweating it out in a steam room, then be told by the therapist to cover yourself in ice and jump in the tropical rain shower, complete with sound and lighting effects. Or how about one of the treatments at the Six Senses Spa in Sharq Village (+974 4425 6999), inspired by the region? The Arabian Facial, for example, sees figs, almond powder and melted honey worked into the skin. And there is even a hammam, both traditional and Moroccan, to make the most of at the end of your treatment. If that gets you into a healthy mood, then get in touch with Yama Yoga Studios (yamayogastudios.com), who arrange classes in three different locations around the city. All skill levels are catered for, from introductory to experienced, and if you stick around long enough they will even train you up to be an instructor. It’s at this point that you will feel so serene that attempting any other activity will just seem like too much effort, so maybe try one of the city’s various parks for a relaxing stroll. Aspire Park is one well-maintained option here, as it sits next to the Aspire Zone which comes with state-of-the-art sports facilities. There are walking trails, fountains and play areas for children. Or maybe let someone else take on the burden of carrying you around – driving you in a 4x4 and over the desert sands for a spot of dune bashing. Contact a company like Qatar International Tours (qittour.com), who have a lot of experience in taking people on such trips, and can even set up a tent so you can enjoy an overnight stay. But if even that seems a little tiring, perhaps there is nothing else for it but to walk the winding alleyways of Souk Waqif, then stop for an Arabic coffee and a shisha. Different flavours are available, which you can contemplate as you stare at the stars above. 24 Doha 101

‘Ronatuica Middle East will get you onboard relaxing with rods, GPS and a refrigerator full of chilled drinks as part of an off-shore fishing trip’


Doha 101_Oct'12  

Doha travel guide