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QATAR LANDMARKS & BEYOND

QATAR LANDMARKS & BEYOND

DOHA TOWER

An iconic tower standing high above Doha’s West Bay.

The iconic Doha Tower, known also as Burj Doha, rises 238 metres above the West Bay in Doha, Qatar. Its phallic shape rises 46 stories above the ground, with a further 3 floors stretching underground. The French architect Jean Nouvel, who designed the building, described its shape as suggestive of “a fully assumed virility.”

ASPIRE TOWER or THE TORCH DOHA

Enjoy panoramic views from Doha’s tallest building

Also known as The Torch Doha, Aspire Tower is a 300-metre high-rise hotel in the Aspire Zone complex in Doha, Qatar. The hotel is centrally located and near to several local attractions, including Villaggio Mall Shopping Center and the Khalifa International Stadium.

Aspire Tower is one of the tallest structures in Qatar. For a view over a spectacular cityscape and a little fine dining, check out the Panorama Restaurant at the top of the tower itself. The Torch Doha or Aspire Tower is now a luxury hotel and meeting space. Dine in the hotel’s revolving 360 restaurant. Another way is to go for a sky-high spa treatment in the health club and get access to the gym and cantilevered swimming pool, which offers superb views from the 19th floor.

TORNADO TOWER

Snap a shot of this distinctive hourglass-shaped building. Tornado Tower’s distinctive hourglass shape is instantly recognisable. Also known as QIPCO Tower, this building’s 52 floors stretch almost 200 metres into the skyline.

SIDRA PUBLIC ART

Enjoy one of Qatar’s world-class public art installations. You’ll find a renowned art installation by the controversial British artist Damien Hirst. Known as The Miraculous Journey, this installation consists of 14 large bronze sculptures depicting the human journey from conception to birth. With sculptures ranging in height from 5- to 11-metres tall, Hirst has charted the miracle of birth in vivid detail. The reality for some may be shocking as among the scenes depicted is a breech birth. There was some controversy surrounding the unveiling of the sculptures initially, but this divisive art piece is now widely praised. While some were upset with the harsh realism of the scenes, this fascinating public art installation is certainly worth a visit.

AL ZUBARA FORT

Visit this UNESCO World Heritage site for a glimpse into Qatari history. Located near a now-deserted town of the same name, Al Zubara Fort is a large fort dominated by 3 huge circular towers and a single rectangular one. The fort was built in 1938 by Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani to serve as a coast guard station. It’s now used as a museum and hosts regular exhibitions on the history of the area.

Located about 105 km from the capital, the remains of the deserted town and the fort protecting it are a UNESCO World Heritage site that lies on the northwestern coast of the Qatar peninsula and can make for an interesting day trip. Be sure to bring snacks and plenty of water and note there’s little in the way of shade while exploring here. It’s probably best to avoid arriving around midday and early afternoon when the heat is at its most intense.

BARZAN TOWERS

Visit these aptly named 19th-century towers day or night. The Barzan Towers date to the late 19th century and were erected to stand guard over the precious rainwater that collected in the nearby valley. Barzan means ‘high place’, and with watchtowers that stand over 16 metres in height, the place is well named. The towers were also used for observing the moon to accurately pinpoint the start of Ramadan.

The towers are just 15 km north of Doha and are open 24 hours a day, so there’s never a bad time to visit. With enormous staircases and impressive buttresses, the architecture here offers some great photo opportunities for visitors, with the best views available from the top. There are some shops nearby too, so you don’t have to worry about finding refreshments while visiting.

AL WAJBAH FORT

Catch a glimpse into Qatar’s storied past at this 18th-century fort. One of Qatar’s oldest historical sites, Al Wajbah Fort dates to the late 18th century. The site of significant battles between the Qatari people and Ottoman forces, the fort holds a special place in the hearts of the locals and evokes a strong sense of national pride for many. With thick walls and 4 high watchtowers, the fort contains weaponry displays and exhibits detailing its history.

THE PIGEON TOWERS

Don’t miss this unique and intriguing pigeon-related attraction. Qatar’s Pigeon Towers are undoubtedly one of the country’s most unique and intriguing attractions. A popular photo opportunity for tourists and locals alike, the towers also serve an extremely practical purpose. Home to thousands of pigeons, the distinctive towers have been designed to collect their droppings for use as fertiliser by local farmers.

IMAM MUHAMMAD IBN ABD AL WAHHAB MOSQUE

A striking place with a great view of the city. Dazzling both inside and out, the Imam Muhammad Ibn Abd Al Wahhab Mosque is a spectacular structure, deserving of the title of Qatar’s national mosque. Built to reflect the older, more traditional homes in Qatar, everywhere you look you’ll be met with classic Islamic architecture and design features, from the bright white walls to the carpets at your feet. Note that this is an active place of worship, though, so dress appropriately.

LA CORNICHE

Take a waterfront walk or go for a jog on the running track. La Corniche is a lovely seafront promenade extending for 7 km along Doha Bay. Offering great views of the water and city skyline, this wide pedestrian walkway is a popular gathering spot for local families and travellers alike. Stroll La Corniche at dawn to watch the golden rays reflecting against the central business district’s high-rise towers, or explore during the bustling evening hours and look out at traditional wooden dhows bobbing in the bay. There are plenty of cafés and restaurants along the way where you can relax while taking in the views.

SOUQ WAQIF MARKET

Expect to haggle in this busy shopping labyrinth. Spread over 4 blocks near the Corniche, Souq Waqif is a lively centuries-old market that once served as a trading hub for the Bedouin looking to buy and sell camels and more. Those not in the market for a camel will find plenty of other eye-catching goods to buy from gold jewellery to colourful fabrics and even Aladdin-style bronze lamps.

MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART

Designed by revered architect I.M. Pei. With its stunning architecture and huge collection of art and artefacts, the Museum of Islamic Art is one of the best things to do in Doha and one of the city’s most celebrated sights. Set along the Corniche promenade on Doha Bay, the museum houses collections of ceramics, manuscripts, metalworks, textiles and other fine art pieces of the Islamic world from 14 centuries ago to modern times.

Journey through 1,400 years of Islamic culture. Tradition meets modernity at Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). An iconic building in the Doha waterfront, this limestone structure emphasises art’s connection to Islam without necessarily focusing on religious items. The museum also holds a library that houses more than 15,000 rare manuscripts and texts from around the world, including a Quran from the 7th century.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF QATAR

Experience Qatar’s history in a heartbeat. The building was designed by architect Jean Nouvel who was inspired by the desert rose crystal, which can be found in Qatar. The National Museum of Qatar offers an immersive and informative experience of Qatar’s history. Just off the waters of Doha Corniche, this architectural marvel offers a vibrant space with an incredible view across the bay. The museum tells Qatar’s unique story in 3 parts: Beginnings, Life in Qatar, and The Modern History of Qatar. Most notably, it displays the Pearl Carpet of Baroda, which features 1.5 million hand-embroidered pearls, sapphires, and diamonds. A fully landscaped park allows you to learn about Qatar’s indigenous plants. After your tour, head over to the museum’s café to experience a traditional food forum

MSHEIREB MUSEUMS

Explore Doha’s fishing roots from 4 historical houses. The Msheireb Museums trace Doha’s history from its humble beginnings as a small fishing village. The museums pay homage to 4 historic heritage buildings in the oldest part of the capital: the Bin Jelmood HouseCompany HouseMohammed Bin Jassim House, and Radwani House.

Each building focuses on different aspects of Qatar’s history, including ancient slavery, the discovery of oil and gas, traditions, and the development of Arabian Gulf countries.

KATARA CULTURAL VILLAGE

Qatar’s hub for culture and creativity. With its grand Greco-Roman amphitheatre and numerous performances and festivals year-round, Doha’s Katara Cultural Village is a 1-stop destination for arts and culture. Katara was built on reclaimed land near The Pearl and designed in a way to hark back to traditional life with its maze of alleyways and Pigeon Towers.

THE PEARL

Built on a former pearl diving site. Set on a manmade island of 4 sq km, The Pearl is a modern district with a great choice of sports, entertainment and shopping venues to explore. Many come here just to check out the snazzy yachts at the marina or enjoy some water sports at one of the beaches.

For the kids – and thrill-seeking adults – there’s Megapolis, a lively indoor fun park with a bowling alley, escape room and arcade games. The dining scene here offers a tasty variety, from artisanal sweet treats to indulge in at Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar to the Andalusian-style meals fit for royalty at Yasmine Palace.

VILLAGGIO MALL

There’s even an Olympic-sized ice rink. Shoppers stepping into Villaggio Mall might think they’ve taken a sudden magic carpet ride to Italy, with its Venetian-inspired canals and gondola rides. Everything is inside and air-conditioned, so there’s no need to worry about wilting in the desert heat while browsing for the latest fashions, enjoying some lunch or catching an amusement park ride at Gondolania Theme Park. The mall is home to several luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Gucci, but there are also budget-friendly shops to check out if you lack a sultan’s fortune.

FALCON SOUQ

Ancient Bedouin hunting technique. While modern Qatar has little practical need for falconry, the tradition of keeping and training these magnificent birds lives on and is recognised by UNESCO as a culturally important practice. It’s not an unusual sight to see men and boys proudly carrying their prized falcon on their arm as they stroll through the city streets and markets.

The Falcon Souq, found adjacent to Souq Waqif Market, offers an engaging peek into the world of falconry. See shops selling all sorts of falcon-keeping paraphernalia or visit its monthly auction, where the more coveted birds could fetch tens of thousands of dollars.

BANANA ISLAND

Just a 25-minute boat ride from downtown Doha. Those in search of some beach time can hop aboard a luxury catamaran at the dock near the Museum of Islamic Art and head out to Banana Island. Expect to enjoy a day of lounging by the pools, kayaking, banana boat rides, waterslides and a bunch more water sports and fun activities for the family.

KHOR AL ADAID

Explore the beauty of the inland sea. Khor Al Adaid attracts nature lovers with its beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife. If UNESCO refers to a nature reserve as ‘a remarkable landscape’, you know you’re in for a treat when you head for this inland beach.

Watch the sunset from the summits of the sand dunes or watch flocks of migratory birds occupying the shores. In this conservation area, you can enjoy picnicking, overnight camping, stargazing, and fishing. You can only get to Khor Al Adaid on a 4×4, as you won’t be able to conquer the dunes with an ordinary car.

AL THAKHIRA BEACH

Enjoy the mangroves along this long stretch of coastline. Al Thakhira Beach, located 60 km north of Doha, is a popular place mainly for family gatherings. Benches on the beach, a walking promenade, and playgrounds for the young ones make for an excellent getaway for those with kids.   

A beautiful addition to this Northern Qatari beach is mangrove forest stretching out along the coastline. While you’ll get a view of the mangroves from the shores, it’s more fun to join a kayak excursion. The biodiversity is stunning, and it’s incredible to see the many species of birds that call this place home.

FUWAIRIT BEACH

Take a relaxing swim at this picturesque seaside. Fuwairit Beach sits on the northernmost tip of Qatar, almost 100 km north of Doha. Due to its long distance from the capital, this beach is rarely crowded. Flanked by beautiful rock formations, its shallow and calm water invites you for a cooling dip with picturesque views. 

The beach lacks amenities and eateries, so it’s a good idea to pack your own umbrella and picnic. Fuwairit Beach is closed from April to July, when hawksbill turtles lay their eggs on this stretch of sand.

ZEKREET BEACH

Check out Qatar’s wildlife and limestone rocks. Zekreet Beach is often described as ‘remote’, and its location on a peninsula in West Qatar validates this statement. Located 100 km west of Doha, you will need to rent a 4×4 to reach this beach and enjoy a scenic drive over the rugged terrain.

Bring your goggles to enjoy snorkelling in the ocean or stay inland to see gazelles, deer, and ostrich roaming around freely. Facilities are non-existent on Zekreet Beach, so make sure to pack all the food and gears you need for an adventurous day on the west coast of Qatar.

UMM BAB BEACH

Relax under the shade of date palms. Umm Bab Beach lies around 35 minutes south of Zekreet Beach. It’s not just the fine sand that draws in beachgoers – it has plenty of date palms providing shelter from the sun. You can easily spend an entire day on this shoreline, thanks to beach facilities such as barbecue grills and play zones for kids.