Chana Viljoen discovers some of the best ways to enjoy what the multifaceted capital of Qatar, Doha, has to offer.

1.)    Museum of Islamic Art

Opened less than two years ago, the Museum of Islamic Art was built to reflect the full vitality, complexity and diversity of the arts of the Islamic world. On display, visitors will find masterpieces spanning three continents and 13 centuries. It includes manuscripts, ceramics, metal, glass, ivory, textiles, wood and precious stones. The artworks date from the seventh to the 19th Century and are exhibited on two floors that encircle the atrium of the Museum. It is located 60m off Doha’s Corniche over the sea. It is connected to the shore by two pedestrian bridges and a vehicular bridge. On the ground floor you will find a dedicated pearl exhibition. Entrance into the museum is free.

*The Museum of Islamic Art, Al Corniche, Doha. Tel: +974 422 4444 Website:

 2.)    Souq Waqif

This is the oldest market in Doha, although the recent renovation has removed some of the authenticity of this historic site. Its name means ‘The Standing Market’ derived from the souq’s beginnings when Doha was a small village divided by the Wadi Mushaireb. In winter, the rain would cause the stream to overflow so locals would stand on its bank to buy and sell their goods. Today it comprises thousands of little stalls and shops where you can buy items from the everyday to the exotic including perfumes, jewellery, spices and traditional crafts. It mixes the Qatari culture and western influence, much like most parts of Doha as it offers a number of small cafés and local restaurants positioned right next to the more western outlets.

 3.)    Shop up a storm

Shopping is definitely a must for anyone’s itinerary when visiting Doha. The two main shopping centres are the Villagio Shopping Mall which has an Italian feel to it (much like Montecasino), complete with gondola rides in canals, and the largest in Qatar, City Centre. The five-storey City Centre features more than 350 international, regional and local retail shops, an indoor water park, and ice skating rink in the centre of the mall and more. The variety and availability of international brands is the main attraction to the shopping malls rather than bargain hunting, as the prices are similar to South African products, but the tax free component makes certain products like perfume slightly cheaper.

4.)    Safari in the sand

Definitely an activity for the brave and adventurous, desert safaris are a real thrill for those who can stomach the ups and downs of the desert’s sand dunes. This is a great way to truly appreciate the sheer beauty of the desert near the Inland Sea just outside of Doha. After skimming the edges of towering sand dunes at high speed you are taken to the sea where you can swim in the warm sea without worrying about strict clothing restrictions, and enjoy an authentic Bedouin meal in the middle of the desert.

*Gulf Adventures. Website:

5.)    The Pearl

Still a construction site for the most part, The Pearl is Doha’s answer to Dubai’s Palm Islands. It is an artificial island constructed on 400 hectares of reclaimed land that will offer shopping, five-star hotels, apartments, office space and anything else you can imagine, including a small replica of Venice with canals. The Pearl even features smaller islands that were sold for billions of dollars. There are a number of smaller upmarket stores and restaurants already open, but the fully-functional centre information/sales centre is also worth a visit to see what it will look like on completion and get further information.

*For more information visit: 

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