Lifestyle in Doha
It's safe to say that the lifestyle in Doha revolves around two things: money and the weather – and it won't be long before expats realise that both have an impact on nearly everything in this Gulf state.
It's no secret that Qatar, in its modern form, is built on its vast gas and oil reserves. The skyline of Doha is growing at a breakneck pace. Signs of its new wealth are evident everywhere one goes; from supercars on the roads to VIP shopping experiences in the city's many malls.
The growth in the population of expat workers is a necessary part of Qatar's development and there's an ever-increasing number of activities to keep those relocating here occupied.
Expats should note that the summer months are a challenge, and July and August are characterised by especially scorching temperatures and high humidity. Outside activities aren't an option, and during this time Doha practically empties of its inhabitants.
Winter is an altogether more refreshing prospect. Dune bashing, camel racing and fishing excursions aboard traditional dhow boats are only a few of the invigorating options available. From October onwards, many hotels have weekly beach parties with international DJs and other live acts. For those wanting a more laid-back time, it's possible to pack a tent and head out to the desert for a night sleeping under the stars. There is something quite magical about watching the sunrise over the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf.
All things considered, though, Qatar remains a conservative country. It's an Islamic state and residents must abide by local laws and respect the Muslim mandate. Access to alcohol is restricted, the dress code in public areas must be ‘respectful’ and any public displays of affection are ill-advised.
Shopping in Doha
When temperatures skyrocket and all options at home have been exhausted, there is always a mall nearby where numerous hours can be passed. Shopping options are satisfactory, but not on par with the likes of London or New York City. However, with new malls frequently opening, shopaholics won’t be disappointed.
Villagio, Landmark and City Centre Mall are the most popular hang-outs. Most Western brand names are represented, along with the usual fast-food outlets; this is by far the most popular weekend pursuit for local and expat residents alike.
Sightseeing in Doha
Sightseeing may not be an expat's primary priority, but Doha does offer enough to keep a family out of mischief for a little while, at least.
The Museum of Islamic Art houses a breathtaking collection of Islamic artefacts, while the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art offers a contemporary counterbalance.
For those who want to see what life may have looked like in days gone by, a one-hour road trip to the north of the country leads to the abandoned fishing village of Jumailiya. Once the ramshackle buildings and outhouses have been explored, the Al Zubara Fort is a further ten minutes down the road. After spending just a little time here, it is not hard to imagine what life would have been like for this recently modernised Bedouin society.
Nightlife in Doha
There is a slow but steady increase of nightlife activity in Doha. Most international hotels have a selection of bars and nightclubs, although the dining options still far outnumber the drinking ones.
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has opened restaurants in Doha and the Market at the W Hotel offers contemporary dining in the trendy surroundings of a downtown hotel. The Jazz Club at the Oryx Rotana is one of the few live music venues around. It gets very busy on weekends, so reservations are essential.
For a more traditional dining experience, expats can embrace the café culture that made this region famous. Souq Waqif has an array of cafés and restaurants that offer a vast selection of regional cuisine, Arabic coffee and shisha.