From the ultra-modern capital of Doha with futuristic skyscrapers, to the Khor Al Adaid Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, passing through The Pearl, an artificial island, and the Katara Cultural Village, dedicated to all the arts, Qatar is a fascinating and dynamic destination.
However, there’s more to life than just football! Though Qatar is known for its love of football, and will host the World Cup next November, it offers much more than sport. Over the past decade, Qatar has evolved spectacularly, attracting star architects whose buildings give Doha a unique identity. But it’s impossible to consider the city without first mentioning its famous seven-kilometre coast road stretching from the Sheraton Hotel to the Museum of Islamic Art, designed by the architect Leo Ming Pei. The museum has an original and elegant architecture, inspired by the ablution fountains of the Ibn Tulun mosque in Cairo. It is one of Doha’s emblematic buildings, like the National Museum of Qatar, designed by Jean Nouvel and inspired by the great desert rose crystal, or the Doha Tower and the Tornado Tower, located in the West Bay District, along the coast road. Fans of architecture must also see the incredible Zig Zag towers.
In contrast to the skyscrapers, the Souq Waqif is alluring with its winding streets, merchants, notably those of the gold souk, its many cafes, the falcon market and the hospital dedicated to them. Nearby are the camel enclosure and the Emiri stables where the Arabian police horses patrolling the souk wait patiently.
It’s worth taking the time to stroll around The Pearl, an artificial island with a Mediterranean atmosphere, and the Qanat District, whose pastel-coloured houses and canals are reminiscent of Venice. As for the Katara Village, it delights lovers of culture and art with its galleries, mosques, amphitheatre, shopping street and beach.
Qatar also offers magnificent landscapes like the Ras Abrouq Peninsula with its beaches and somewhat lunar atmosphere, the Khor Al Adaid Reserve, in the south of the country, or the desert and its enchanting charm.
Fuwairit Beach, about two hours by car from Doha, is exceptional with its white sand and crystal blue water, where turtle eggs hatch between April and July.
Finally, sports enthusiasts are spoilt for choice with a desert trip or the chance to discover the Al Thakira mangroves by kayak, or while diving, wakeboarding or even kitesurfing.
Take Off magazine, article by Odile Habel