See and Do in Doha
A modern city still influenced by a traditional Arabic past that resonates through its sights and sounds, there are many family-friendly attractions for expats to see and do in Doha. There are also various markets that will excite the senses and great nightlife spots where working expats can let their hair down after a long day at the office.
Sightseeing in Doha
Expats who want to explore the rich Middle Eastern culture of Qatar will have no shortage of interesting sights to see. Below are some of the must-see attractions in Doha.
Museum of Islamic Art
The Museum of Islamic Art can be found at the edge of Doha Harbour and was designed by respected architect, IM Pei. The museum is built to look like a fortress with its own moat and avenue of palm trees. Expats who visit the museum will find the largest collection of Islamic art in the world, as well as a gallery, library and restaurant.
Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum
This museum houses exhibitions allowing visitors to see how the Bedouins lived, including displays of their clothing and other belongings. There are also displays of what a traditional Qatari house looks like, Islamic art and some of the largest and smallest Qur’ans in the world. Other exhibitions include Islamic weapons, both traditional and modern, as well as displays of cars and artefacts previously belonging to Sheikhs.
Katara Cultural Village
Katara Cultural Village was created to resemble a traditional Qatari settlement. Expats can go there to shop, eat and experience traditional Qatari life. Many festivals are held here and expats can buy local arts and crafts, clay pots and jewellery, as well as see how they are all made.
The Corniche is a picturesque part of Doha. It is a leafy green area right on the shores of the Arabian Gulf. Expats can walk or jog on the long promenade at the water's edge and there are grassy areas and parks where children can play while their parents enjoy the view of the ocean.
The Corniche has beautiful flowers and date trees to picnic under, and there are also cafés and museums to enjoy.
The Grand Mosque is near the Corniche and the Amiri Diwan Palace and is one of the biggest mosques in Qatar. It was built in the 1950s and combines traditional and modern architecture. This is a must-see for expats wanting to experience a beautiful part of Islamic culture.
Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art
This museum is in the Education District of Doha and contains the art collection of Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani. It is now headed by his daughter, Sheikha Al-Mayassa. The collection contains Arabic pieces from as far back as 1840 and also contains a variety of more modern artworks, including exhibitions by some of the best-recognised artists in the world. It is recommended that expats with children visit on Fridays when the museum hosts family-friendly workshops.
Theme parks in Doha
There are a number of theme parks in and around Doha which offer a great day out for the whole family.
Aqua Park Qatar
Aqua Park is Qatar’s only water park and is a great activity for families during the scorching summer months in Doha. There are slides, a wave pool, a lazy river and a pool for toddlers. Tuesdays are known as Ladies Day, where boys taller than 3.9 feet (1.2m) aren't allowed in. The park also recommends Islamic swimwear on these days as a mark of respect, although many women wear Western swimwear on other days.
Souqs in Doha
Souqs are Arabic markets and provide expats with a great place to do their day-to-day shopping as well as buy some memorable souvenirs.
Souq Waqif is centuries old and used to be a trading post for the Bedouin to bring their livestock. While it has changed a lot over the decades, it has recently been made over to look like a 19th-century traditional souq to attract tourists.
Expats shopping at Souq Waqif will be able to buy traditional Qatari dress, perfumes, incense and spices. Expats can also take a break from shopping and enjoy a cup of mint tea at one of the cafés.
Souq Al Naima
Souq Al Naima caters to the locals and therefore is less touristy than Souq Waqif. Expats can find household goods and furniture at this souq, as well as groceries and clothing at local prices.
This large souq is almost an extension of Souq Waqif. It showcases traditional Qatari culture and specialises in hunting and falconry, two very important parts of Qatari heritage. Expats will find many shops that sell hunting paraphernalia and will have an opportunity to explore this interesting part of life in Doha.
The gold souq is the place to visit to find beautiful jewellery and precious metals in Doha. The Gold Souq in Doha is part of Souq Waqif.
The wholesale markets
The wholesale markets lie between Salwa and Haloul streets in Doha. There is a vast collection of markets and shops in this area. Expats can buy vegetables, fruit, meat, seafood and herbs and spices. Expats will also find rarer delicacies such as desert truffles at these markets.
These markets are a good place to bargain and buy groceries at a good price, so a great way for expats to save money while living in Doha.