Self-Guided Transit Tour
I had to leave UAE for technicalities just to return for a different stamp. I flew round trip to Doha on Qatar Air, but they would not offer their free tour even though I intentionally planned my 'layover' to be longer.
They had no issues letting me pass through immigration. I don't now why there are so many warnings on other forums about this, since they never even asked a question. I simply paid my VoA fee, stamp, stamp, thank you and off I went.
The one tourist trap that I wrote on my Doha page was for the HoHo bus. I personally don't see that it is worth it, particularly with more than one person. In ~4 hours, you have enough time to see the MIA (Museum of Islamic Art - it's free and recommended), see the Dhow Harbor and walk through the Waqif Souq which are about 4 minutes walk from eachother. These are ~10 minute taxi from the airport. After seeing those, you could choose any other location based on time available or maybe just sit at a cafe/restaurant in the souq and use that as the lounge until it is time to return to the airport. From these you can see the skyline of downtown at the end of the Corniche.
the view from my hotelroom
Instead of taking a walk at night like I have done it in Dubai, I stayed all of the time in my hotelroom in Doha. My room was in the 10 floor or so and so I was able to take a look down on some surrounding innercourt, where people were sitting untill late at night enjoying a cool time.
I was afraid of leaving my Hotel, as the surrounding of the Hotel was quite "rough", the taxidriver almost did not find it and he had to drive about 300 meters through sidestreets totally without any streetlights and at many places there were people hanging around in these streets like waiting for victims.
And besides of this I had to leave the Hotel again next morning at 05.00am and did not want to take any risk.Related to:
Doha as you see it from above
This is what Doha looks from above, shortly before your airplane will land !The City of Doha has a bit less than 800.000 inhabitants and as you can see in my Pictures, there is a mixture of Skyscrapers and totally flat houses. When you arrive from Europe it makes sense to take a seat on the right side of the plane so you will get this view like in my pictures !Related to:
- Luxury Travel
Doha Bus- Hop on Hop off
The Doha Bus- Hop on Hop off, is a nice way to see the major sights.
It covers the main attractions: Souq Waqif, Museum of Islamic art, Katara cultural village, the Pearl,
the Corniche (seefront promenade), the city centre and the Sheraton park.
The price is around 180 QR (50 $) for adults and half price for children.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Museum Visits
Doha, the Pearl
The Pearl is a luxurious residential area with shopping malls, restaurants and a nice harbour. It is an artificial island, and the name "The Pearl" was chosen because the island is built on one of Qatar's previous major pearl diving sites.
Only half of the island is open to tourists, the other half is strictly residential and you need a special invitation to enter.Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Business Travel
- Luxury Travel
Skyscrapers in the West Bay area (Al Dafna)
Being a dynamic city in a process of quick reconstruction and expansion, you will see new skyscrapers appearing everywhere. Many of them are just plain boring glass and steel while others are quite distinctive and can be an attratcion on their own. Here is a small selection of some skyscrapers in the West Bay area:
Burj Qatar: The „Tower of Qatar“ looks like a giant thermos flask, but its shape is not the only distinctive property. It glows between the other buildings, sometimes in a btight white, sometimes in a more yellowish colour. Its real beauty can only be seen if you see it from very close. The tower has a skin (or facade) made of a traditionally inspired pattern. It has won several international prizes for it. Burj Qatar was finished in 2010.
Doha Bank: This tower was finished in 2007 and is easy to recognize a well. It is the one with two curved shapes shaped looking like blue „D“s. It is no coincidence that these „D“s come very close to the logo of Doha Bank.
Quipco Tower: This one is also known as Tornado Tower because of its shape which is a curved cylinder. Together with the matrial used, this shape contributes to a very efficient use of energy in the building. Quipco Tower has a rather average size with „only“ 200 metres and was completed in 2008.
Al Bidda Tower: Al Bidda Tower (2010) has a twisted shape with an angled roof. This and its location close to the Corniche make it easy to recognize Al Bidda Tower as well. The nickame Tornado Tower is sometimes used, though this is more associated with the two year older Quipco Tower.
Woqod Tower: Tucked away between Quipco Towern and the City Centre shopping mall, Woqod Tower is – in my optionion – one of the most beautiful. Its shape reminds of a flame and it is no surprise that there is a fuel company in there. Woqod tower was finised in 2011.
Al Dana Tower: This is the tower with a big ball placed in its middle. It is said that the ball is a pearl, but I only recognized it after reading this information. Al Dana Tower was finished in 2008.
Among the best known skyscrapers, there is also the Aspire tower which was built in form of a torch for the 2006 Asian games. It is located in the new-built Aspire zone northeast of the city centre. With a height of 300 metres, it was the highest building in Doha until the completion of Doha'S Dubai Tower in 2012.Related to:
Modern Architecture in Old Doha
Old Doha is dominated by Souk Waqif and its traditional style architecture. Large parts in this area have low-rise buildings from the second half of the 20th century. However, there are a couple of modern buildings in old style which fit well into this part of Doha and are worth seeing from an architectural point of view.
- KDF Islamic Cultural Centre (Fanar)
This instituation offers Arabic language lessons, religious forums and cultural lectures. Fanar is open to non-muslims as well and welcomes anyone intersted in Qatari culture and Islam. Of course, a mosque is integrated in this building as well which is currently the largest mosuqe in Qatar. I didn't take part in any of the activities, but still admire the building for its spiral shaped minaret. It was modelled after a thousand year old mosque in Samarra, Iraq.
- Al Qebab Mosque
This beautiful building makes a good photo motive, especially at night when it is well illuminated. Unfortunately, I can't say a lot about its history and I am still trying to find out, if this mosque was the one which replaced a similar building in 2008/2009 or if that was the large Imam Abdul Wahhab Mosque.
- Museum of Islamic Art
Designed by I.M. Pei and finished in 2008, the building is surely an eyecatcher and a magnificent blend of modern and traditional styles. See my separate tip abou the museum for more information.Related to:
The clock tower close to the Amiri Diwan Mosque and the Emir's Palace. Built in the early 1960s, it blends Victorian and Islamic style and is a heritage from the British Protectorate era. Note the arabic numbers on the dial. The clock tower formerly stood on a roundabout, now the area is a little quieter and the clock tower shares a big square with the mosque. Clock toower, Grand Mosque and Emir's Palace are located on an elevation and offer you a good view on the Corniche and old Doha.Related to:
Arch of Swords
This is a prime example for a martial monument which can be found in this region and they remind on a similar monument under which Saddam Hussein held military parades long time ago in Baghdad. However, Qatar is a peaceful country so that this monument intends to rather symbolise strenghth than agression. On each side of Grand Hamad Street, you will see a hand holding a sword while both swords are crossed severel metres above the street. The nearby junction is better known by its nickname „Crossed Sword Junction“ while Grand Hamad Street is better known as Bank Street as it is the main axis of old Doha's financial quarter.
Al Koot Fort
Al Koot Fort was built in 1880 during the Ottoman rule. Once a military fort defending Doha, now it is in the middle of the old town close to the touristy Souk Waqif. Al Koot fort was used in unti 1970 when it was coverted into a museum for the first time. During that reconstruction, a large part of the original architecture was destroyed. As of 2012, the fort is under refurbishment and many of these lost features are being reconstructed. It will become a museum showing old crafts and local traditions. In the meanwhile, the neighbouring structures are used to keep horses and camels which gives you a chance to see those animals in central Doha.Related to:
Visit the Aspire Park
Located at the Aspire Zone, just behind the Villagio Mall, is this sprawling park covering an area of 88 Hectares. It is at present the biggest park in Doha with huge lush green lawns and a surprisingly large lake.
There is also an overhead fountain or shower fountain that begins on one side of the bridge and flows on the other side and if one walks through the bridge, small drizzles of water fall on you from the fountain.
The presence of lake and the green lawns makes it a cool and cozy place for picnics. It also has a hill and children will have a great time running up and down out there.
Another interesting thing to note in the park is the ‘Pot’ shaped trees, grown scattered around the park. You will not find these trees anywhere else in Qatar….I have come across several of them in Cuba.
Facilities of a Walking track, Kids’ play zone, Lake Area, and Café/Restaurant are what a visitor can enjoy here.
Recently the Aspire Park has introduced as a means of pleasure, carriages pulled by horses. This ride is open to the public three days a week (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) from 04:00 p.m. to 09:00 p.m. Free Wi-fi access is available in Aspire park.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Theme Park Trips
- Hiking and Walking
I won't lie - there is little in the financial district that is likely to keep you for long, unless you are here for one of the hotels or to go to a restaurant or club inside a hotel. Nevertheless, the financial district provides visitors with great architectural eye-candy that is definitely worth a drive through the centre. The premier building is the Tornado Tower, which is an oddly-shaped building, not unlike an elongated breast with a very pointy nipple. Apart from the Tornado Tower, though, there are dozens of skyscrapers that feature slanted and off-kilter walls, materials that provide an intense shine, and impossible shapes taked onto or cut out of entire buildings. The best time to go for a spin is at night, along the Corniche, when you will have an excellent view of all the buildings lit up for the night.Related to:
Qatar may be officially called the State of Qatar, but it is effectively an Emirate, ruled by the current Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The Emir has promised, on numerous occasions, to deepen democratic institutions and to hold limited consultative processes since the bloodless coup that brought him to power in 1995, but so far nothing has been achieved. Instead, he continues to rule by relying on unelected members of his Diwan, or court, which represents the country’s various tribal, religious, economic and social interests. These representatives work in the Diwan emiri, which is located in the historic centre of Doha, near the Waqif Souq. The building is a massive structure that seems to have been a (failed) blend of traditional Arab elements with monumental Arab ones. I would not suggest trying to get a picture of from too close up (you are likely to be arrested), but then again I doubt that there is much to interest anyone in a large number of shots of the building.Related to:
There’s really not much to say about the multipurpose hall at Katara, except that I loved its structure. As a multipurpose hall, it is necessary an ambiguous institution, intended to house wandering and itinerant exhibitions and events. Nevertheless, whoever thought to design it as a bean pot evidently had a sense of humour, using this gigantic piece of kitchenware as a metaphor for the bubbling intellectual and creative energies that Katara is meant to encourage.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Katara Pigeon Tower
Pigeons, like camels, horses and falcons, play a role in the maintenance of Arab traditions. Unlike the three other animals, pigeons are associated much more with settlement and domesticity, as they would be kept in dovecotes at family compounds, and would not be taken along with nomadic tribes or traders. Pigeons are also prized because their cooing is said to be similar to the phrase “uzkur Allah” or “udhkur Allah” (depending on your dialect), which means “remember God”. The pigeon towers by Katara Mosque are a beautiful tribute to this tradition, and, despite the calling and cooing of the pigeons, provides an air of tranquility and calmness to the general area. They are constructed in the indigenous mud-brick style, with the wooden supports sticking out of the sleek, rounded structures.Related to:
I stayed here for one night in Oct 2015 on a business trip (and my second visit to Qatar). This...more
I came for lunch at Mykonos restaurant during my stay in Doha last year and I was so impressed with...more
I stayed there for over two weeks in March 2010 for a major conference that we were organizing....more
Latest Doha Hotel Reviews
- Ramada Hotel Doha
- Very Good (3.5 out of 5.0) 4 Reviews
- Inter-Continental Doha
- Excellent (4.5 out of 5.0) 4 Reviews
- Merweb Hotel
- Terrible (1.0 out of 5.0) 1 Review
- Sheraton Hotel Doha
- Great (4.0 out of 5.0) 4 Reviews
- Marriott Doha
- Great (4.0 out of 5.0) 2 Reviews
- Four Seasons Hotel
- Excellent (4.5 out of 5.0) 5 Reviews
Explore the World
- Myrtle Beach Hotels
- Davao City Hotels
- Davao Hotels
- State of Jammu and Kashmir Hotels
- La Sal Junction Hotels
- Savannah Things to Do
- Saint Augustine Things to Do
- Laoag City Things to Do
- Traverse City Things to Do
- Mystic Things to Do
- Kennebunkport Things to Do
- Bukit Fraser Things to Do
- Springfield Things to Do
- Eureka Springs Things to Do
- Key West Things to Do
- Sonora Things to Do
- Bourbon Street
- Mellieha Things to Do
- Hollywood Things to Do