A modern city still influenced by a traditional Arabic past which resonates through its sights and sounds, there are many family-friendly attractions for expats to see and do in Doha. Various markets will excite the senses, and the city is also dotted with great nightlife spots where working expats can let their hair down after a long day at the office.
Have a look at some of the main attractions, theme parks and souqs in Qatar's capital city.
Recommended attractions 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 Port 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, about 12.4 miles (20km) outside of Doha, houses exhibitions and collections with over 15,000 artefacts. There are designated halls displaying Islamic art, manuscripts and verses of the Qur'an, as well as collections of vehicles and coins and currency. Qatari heritage is also showcased at the museum with displays of Bedouin textiles.
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 and conventions are held here, and expats can visit the planetarium, 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, Falcon Souq and the Amiri Diwan Palace and is one of the biggest mosques in Qatar. The Grand Mosque combines traditional and modern architecture, with large yet elegant domes and structures. 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 Education City 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. Supervised tours can be organised by visitors and for educational excursions.
Theme parks in Doha
There are some theme parks in and around Doha which offer a great day out for the whole family.
Aqua Park Qatar
Aqua Park is an exciting water park which makes for a great activity for families during the scorching summer months in Doha. There are slides, a surfing machine, wave pool, lazy river and a pool for toddlers. Expat women looking for something to do can visit here anytime and 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.
Want to visit the largest family entertainment destination in Doha? The fun at Gondolina is never-ending, with an indoor theme park, Olympic-sized ice-skating rink and a gondola boat ride. Doha residents of all ages can indulge in a range of activities, from bowling and bumper cars to go-karts and a 4D cinema or simply a meal at an upscale restaurant.
Souqs in Doha
Souqs are Arabic markets that provide residents and tourists alike with a great place to do their day-to-day shopping as well as buy some memorable souvenirs.
Souq Waqif is over a century old and used to be a trading post for the Bedouin and local tradesmen to bring their livestock, pearls and spices, among other key products. While it has changed a lot over the decades, it maintains a look of a 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.
Extending from Souq Waqif, shoppers will find the Gold Souq and Souq Al Dira. The Gold Souq is the place to visit to find beautiful jewellery and precious metals in Doha, while clothing and fabrics can be bought at Souq Al Dira.
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 have an opportunity to explore this interesting part of life in Doha as many shops sell hunting paraphernalia and have exhibitions with trained birds, and
The wholesale markets
Many wholesale markets lie between Salwa and Haloul streets in Doha. There is a vast collection of markets and shops in this area, though countless stores and boutiques can be found throughout the city too. 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.
►For information about annual festivals and events in the Qatari capital see What's On in Doha
►Read more about Lifestyle in Doha
"Doha does have entertainment in the various hotels and many restaurants and shopping centres. There are also interesting drives around the country (in just two hours) to see wildlife, ruins and small villages to name a few!" Read our interview with Helen for more on settling into life in Qatar.
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.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Aetna International, offering comprehensive global medical coverage, has a network of 1.3 million medical providers worldwide. You will have the flexibility to choose from six areas of coverage, including worldwide, multiple levels of benefits to choose from, plus various optional benefits to meet your needs.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.