The best places to live in Doha
Doha, the capital and business hub of Qatar, boasts an assortment of diverse communities mixed together within different areas. Occupation, budget and length of contract usually dictate where an expat will live, but this isn’t always the case.
For expats whose employers don't provide them with accommodation in Doha, choosing an area to live in demands some practical consideration. Rather than searching for tree-lined lanes and quiet neighbours, choosing an area of the city close to the main income earner’s place of work should take priority.
Doha is situated between several smaller hubs, such as Al Khor and Ras Laffan to the north, and Mesaieed to the south. These towns mostly offer accommodation to expats who work in the oil and gas industry or are employed by the ever-expanding ports. Expats living in these communities can expect a highway commute of approximately 35 to 50 miles (56 to 80km) to the capital. This means that sometimes even those employed by these sectors prefer to find accommodation closer to the amenities and energy of Doha.
Ultimately, whether in a compound, a free-standing villa or an apartment, one thing takes precedence when choosing accommodation in Doha: traffic. Schools and shopping malls are well situated to service all areas but traffic makes travel time a major concern when choosing a place to live.
Doha has an area suitable for every expat, be it those who prefer luxury living, coastal views and proximity to traditional markets, those who lead more active lifestyles, or expat families who’d prefer living near parks and good schools.
Check out some of the best neighbourhoods in Doha below.
Waterfront living in Doha
West Bay/Al Dafna
West Bay is home to most of the foreign embassies in Doha and a fair amount of diplomatic accommodation in the aptly-named Diplomatic Area. West Bay is popular among high-income families living in the large villas that line its two-lane main roads. This area is serviced by the City Centre Mall, perfectly situated in the financial district. Many of Doha’s best attractions can be found here, including the renowned Qatar National Theatre, as well as many world-class eateries.
The Pearl-Qatar, where the trendy half lives and plays, is a portion of reclaimed land off the Qatar peninsula. The presence of high-end apartment buildings, luxury shops and restaurants makes this a popular area for high-income expats and wealthy Qataris. Access is made easy by a double lane road going in and out. Upmarket jetties offer secure mooring space for large yachts.
Just south of Doha, Qatari residents will find the city of Al Wakrah. This city offers an escape from the big city in the form of more relaxed coastal living. Still, all the amenities and services required by an expat can be found here, including banking, schools, mosques and healthcare facilities.
Family life in Doha
In Abu Hamour, there’s a good mix of compound accommodation and free-standing villas, while easy access to most schools makes this area popular for teachers. The wholesale market, which includes a fish and animal market, is situated close by. Unfortunately, on hot windy days, a less-than-pleasant smell has been known to permeate the surrounding area.
Al Gharafa is a large area in the city of Al Rayyan, surrounding Doha. It has an eclectic mix of free-standing villas, compounds and apartments. It is close to most of the major shopping centres and main roads and affords residents good access to Education City. For this reason, it’s become a popular area among expats who work for government agencies, such as the Qatar Foundation or Qatar University. It’s great for families, as it is a stone's throw away from Madinat Khalifa North, which is home to many schools and preschools, including Compass International School.
Al Sadd is one of Doha’s oldest districts and is popular with families. This spot is just outside the more crowded inner city, boasts various malls, including Royal Plaza Mall, and is located next to Hamad Medical Centre.
Shopaholics in Doha
Musheireb, also written as Mushayrib, is a busy downtown area close to the business district and the main market area of Souq Waqif. An older neighbourhood with many dated apartment buildings and aged flats, Musheireb is characterised by narrow roads and small shops, and claims high foot and vehicle traffic.
Neighbouring Mushaireb, Al Jasra is in the heart of Doha. Filled with the energy of Souq Waqif, Doha’s largest market, Al Jasra offers walks along the Corniche and accommodation with a view.
Sports fans in Doha
Duhail is a quiet area far from the hustle and bustle of the traffic-filled Doha centre. Its proximity to major highways and newer free-standing villas makes this a popular area for people working in Ras Laffan. It’s also home to a popular sports club and close to Qatar University.
Nestled between the municipalities of Doha and Al Rayyan, Al Waab is close to Aspire Park and the popular Villagio Mall, and offers easy access to most major routes. Though Al Waab is further from the Doha Corniche, Aspire Park provides a perfect outdoor environment for walking and jogging, or a simple picnic. The area consists of modern, family compounds and well-maintained free-standing villas. Traffic is sporadic, depending on school times and events held at the Aspire Park sports dome.
Further north of Doha along the coast, Lusail is a city in the making. While public transport links to Lusail are still developing, the city offers luxurious accommodation and amenities. Qatar is a small country, so driving between cities such as Lusail and Doha makes for a short commute.
Photo credits: The Pearl by Elissar Haidar; Msheireb Mosque by Rowen Smith; and The Pearl-Qatar by Deepak Siva. All sourced from Unsplash.
Are you an expat living in Doha?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Doha. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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