WE’RE EXCITED TO BE STARTING A NEW DECADE HERE IN QATAR WITH ALL OF OUR READERS! TO CELEBRATE NEW BEGINNINGS, FACT HAS PUT TOGETHER A LIST OF 20 THINGS THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO EXPERIENCE IN QATAR – FROM THE ARTSY TO THE FOODIE – THERE’S SOMETHING TO PLEASE EVERY INTEREST…
KATARA CULTURAL VILLAGE


Katara Cultural Village is the largest and the most multidimensional cultural project of Qatar. With beautiful theatres, concert halls, exhibition galleries and cutting-edge facilities, it aims to spread awareness about every culture and civilisation. Bringing together culture and recreation, the area is a representation of what Qatar stands for. Katara’s epicentre is Katara Art Centre, the place is more than just a hub for exhibitions and creative displays. Although the centre always has an on-going slew of exhibits for people to go check out free of charge, they also offer free innovative workshops in different arrays to help foster and spur creativity amongst the Doha community. From a number of international, regional and local festivals to workshops, performances and exhibitions, Katara Cultural Village is sure to make the art buff in you very happy!
GO: Visit www.katara.net/en/home for more information

MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART
Another architectural wonder not-to-be-missed on your exploration of Qatar is the iconic Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). For anyone who’s been living in Doha and is yet to visit MIA, prepare for a fix of truly culturally significant artworks and exhibitions. With the aim of opening minds and shaping the future, the Museum of Islamic Art uses the power of art to bring the story of Islamic culture to life. Home to a collection of artistic objects gathered from around the Islamic world, MIA truly cements Qatar’s position as the cultural capital of the Middle East. Representing Islamic art from three continents and over 1,400 years, MIA is the place to fuel your cultural, artistic and social curiosity. Visiting exhibitions keep things exciting and interesting, and there’s plenty for kids to do in the surrounding MIA Park too. A café and gift shop are also on site for leisurely snacks and cool souvenirs.
GO: General admission is QR50 for adults and a number of discounts are available for students and Culture Pass members. Visit www.mia.org.qa/ for more information.

AL THAKIRA MANGROVES FOREST
We are blown away at the beauty of this place and how little we knew about it! Al Thakira Mangrove Forest is amongst Qatar’s oldest and largest such forests. It’s a welcome surprise to find a mangrove forest like this such a short distance from industrial Al Khor. Around five miles from the city of Al Khor, you can easily reach the forest by car, but be prepared for some off-road driving (approx. 1.2 miles) which leads the dirt track onto the beach and the start of the forest. The area is not signposted and there are no facilities built for visitors so be prepared to get channel your inner Bear Grylls. Considering the harsh environment, there is a relatively low number of plants endemic to Qatar, and mangroves are one of these sturdy few. The local type of mangrove native to the country is the Avicennia Marina a species that can endure the high level of salinity that’s characteristic of the Gulf.
GO: Visit www.visitqatar.qa/ for more information.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF QATAR
There’s no way that you can live in Doha and not check out this architectural masterpiece. The National Museum of Qatar is spread over a staggering 52,000 square metres, and with a route extending over 1.5 kilometres, it allows visitors to explore the evolution of Qatar through creative storytelling and artistic works. The museum is set out chronologically, beginning with the period before the peninsula was inhabited by humans, and continuing up to the present day. From the entrance the route passes through a succession of impressive multi-shaped spaces until it reaches the museum’s grand finale: the painstakingly restored Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani. Not only are their ample photo opps, especially in the 112,000-square-metre park with gentle landscaping, a broad 900-metre-long artificial lagoon, and gardens with large green areas, paths and walkways, designed by French landscape architect Michel Desvignes. Tip: During the cooler weather, it makes for a delightful setting for picnics.
GO: General admission is QR50 for adults and a number of discounts are available for students and Culture Pass members. Visit www.nmoq.org.qa for more information.

MUSFUR SINKHOLE
Another ancient site that doesn’t get near as much attention as it should is the Musfur Sinkhole. There are no bats living inside this giant cave, but migratory birds regularly build their nests high along the jagged layers of limestone and gypsum. The Musfur Sinkhole was formed an estimated 325,000 to 500,000 years ago. The opening is about 40 feet wide and plunges over 300 feet down into the earth, making it the largest sinkhole in Qatar. While there is also a cave a few miles from Musfur, this is a standalone sinkhole, and it is not itself connected to other caves. Follow Salwa Road and take exit 35 heading north. Follow the main road for about 10km and take an eastbound dirt road following the powerlines. Musfur Sinkhole is on this dirt track, about 12km from the paved road. It is easy to spot as it is the only piece of land surrounded by a chain-link fence. Note that sinkholes are not the safest places to be as they are inherently unstable and other sections of soil or subsoil may collapse – so it would be wise to take a professional to Musfur with you.
GO: Visit www.visitqatar.qa/ for more information.

SOUQ AL WAKRAH
Enormous and enchanting, Souq Al Wakrah is a hotbed of cultural and social activity for locals and tourists alike that will keep you entertained for hours on end. Boasting historic value, an array of culinary delights and a serene ambience, Al Wakra Souq is a popular spot for a retreat from the city and for visitors looking for genuine Qatari life. From gorging on a variety of cuisines to taking a relaxing walk along the Corniche’s 3km stretch and shopping to your heart’s content, Al Wakra Souq is your one-stop destination for all things culture, entertainment and dining!
GO: Visit www.visitqatar.qa for more information.

THE PEARL QATAR
Comprising of two interlinked horseshoe-shaped pieces of land, the manmade island of The Pearl spans around four million sqms. A popular place for expat residences, the bustling “Porto Arabia” encircles an impressive marina of yachts and is a great place for a quiet stroll along the promenade to take in the sights or for a stop at one of the numerous cafes for a coffee and a bite to eat. Take a water taxi (at a very reasonably priced QR25 for a return trip) from Tower 1 through to Qanat Quartier, where pretty pastel houses border a Venetian-inspired winding network of canals, or head to Medina Centrale, the central shopping zone of the island, with more than 55,000 sq metres of retail and restaurants.
GO: www. www.thepearlqatar.com for more information.

AL ZUBARAH FORT
The dramatic UNESCO recognised Al Zubarah Fort and its surrounding archaeological works is a restored part of Qatar’s cultural history. While the archaeological remains here date back to the 1700s, the fort, which was built in 1938, is the youngest feature. It overlooks the old bustling pearl fishing town of Al Zubarah, which traders from China to Britain sailed to some 200 years ago. Nowadays, the village is a ghost town, although still charming and worth a visit for a day out of the city and your next perfect instagram post. Plan ahead as the location of the village isn’t obvious. You can get there by turning right on the road just before the fort and following it for 10 minutes to Al Jumail. Park right in the village and bring water shoes for the sea – you’re likely to step on barnacles.
GO: Visit www.visitqatar.qa for more information.

 

FILM CITY
A place that many people are yet to discover, Film City is a few hours’ drive into the Qatari desert. Jump off the road and start bumping through rocks and ruts, and eventually into the sand dunes that give way to sand cliffs, and on the horizon will start to rise a truly bizarre sight. Film City is a palm tree-laden, sand-coloured, mock-up village built for a film or television series. It’s a contemporary replica of a picturesque Bedouin-style village, completely deserted, with eeriness thrown in for good measure. The abandoned set sits in the middle of the secluded desert peninsula of Zekreet. There are almost no people or cars around, and no signs to give any clues as to why the ghost town is there. Get on Dukhan highway taking D-Ring Road to Shamal and then after travelling 90kms or 55 miles, turn right once you see the Zekreet sign, or alternatively, you could take someone with you who knows where it is.
GO: Visit www.visitqatar.qa for more information.

THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY
One of the most spectacular set of artistic sculptures you’ll find in Doha. Fourteen bronze sculptures that represent different phases of the gestation of a human fetus, from conception to birth, stand outside Sidra Medical and Research Centre – a hospital with a focus on women’s and children’s health. The first sculpture is that of an egg being fertilised, and the last sculpture is that of an anatomically correct newborn. Between the two is the detailed development of the fetus, including a sculpture showing twins in the womb. The artwork is by world-renowned Damien Hirst, and was commissioned by Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani.
GO: Visit www.visitqatar.qa for more information.

 

ATTEND A SPORTING EVENT
Qatar has a wealth of new stadiums popping up ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They’ll be in good company as football is the most popular sport among the local and expat community, but it isn’t the only sport that draws a crowd. The Grand Prix of Qatar takes place in March at Losail International Circuit, whilst the Swimming World Cup, The Color Run and the World Superbike Championship are just some of the exciting events that you can be a part of. The ATP World Tour, which stops in the capital every winter, attracts tennis giants including Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, whilst the Qatar Masters Golf Tournament is also an annual event worth visiting. Qatar’s traditional sports like Arabian horse racing, camel racing, and falconry also make for excellent spectatorship.
GO: Visit www.visitqatar.qa for more information.

BARZAN TOWERS
Built in the late 1800s 1800s and renovated in 1910 during the reign of Sheikh Mohammed bin Jassim Al Thani, the Barzan Towers have served a dual purpose as the location from which to ward off the possibility of another Ottoman invasion, and also a site for astronomical observations to study the moon during Ramadan. These beautiful towers dominate the desert skyline. For more than a century, they’ve provided a vantage point for both scanning the horizon for enemies and tracking the movements of the celestial world. The Barzan Towers compound comprises of two towers, a small mosque, and a reception room for guests. The towers were strategically placed near a rawdat, an ecosystem where rainwater collects and allows indigenous flora and fauna to grow. It’s possible to enter the tower and climb the internal staircase to reach the top level. The thickness of the walls and the small windows ensure a cool temperature inside the towers all year round. This is the spot to visit for an impressive look at a beautiful historical site.
GO: Visit www.visitqatar.qa/ for more information.

 

SOUQ WAQIF
In comparison to waterparks and rollercoasters, this is a way more laid-back option, but nonetheless an interesting one. Souq Waqif is one part of Doha that will export you back to the bustling markets of the old days. Small alleyways are lined with fabric and jewellery shops, gift and souvenir stores, and plenty of opportunities for window-shopping or picking up a rare find. Enjoy an authentic Middle Eastern meal or sit down for shisha with friends and family at one of the many great restaurants. Al Rawnaq is one of our favourite shops for a treasure trove of amazing craft supplies, costume jewellery and random bits and bobs, perfect for bringing that design you had in mind come to life! There are even stables for horses and camels here! A leisurely stroll or some serious bargain hunting can be done at Souq Waqif, either way, this traditional bazaar is perfect for spending a few hours away from the city’s skyscrapers. Some evenings there are special guards who patrol the souq on horses for a taste of traditional revelry. Haggle – don’t be shy to ask for a better price on what you want to purchase. Vendors expect and often accept reasonable offers, especially if you’re buying more than one item!
GO: Visit www.souq-waqif-doha.com for more information.

 

ART MEETS DESERT: EAST MEETS WEST ART
INSTALLATION BY RICHARD SERRA
Taking sculpture art off the pedestal and on to the street, Richard Serra adds a whole new dimension to Qatar’s art scene. Derived from the interaction with the viewer, Serra’s art has always been for the people and about the people. The breathtaking East-West/ West-East sculpture in Brouq nature reserve spans over a kilometre and comprises four steel plates, each over 14 metres in height. Built in accordance to the local topography, the sculpture beautifully enhances the space in the heart of the desert.
GO: www.qm.org.qa/en for more info.

 

TRY FINE-DINING: MORIMOTO, MONDRIAN
DOHA
A sublime showcase of the world-renowned Chef Morimoto’s native cuisine, Morimoto is the gold standard for contemporary Japanese cuisine in the city. Inspired by ancient Japan and of-themoment culinary technique, the restaurant offers an unexpected and inventive spin on a variety of your traditional favourites. Adorned with energetic and graceful artworks by Japanese painter, Hiroshi Senju, the restaurant is both cutting-edge and comfortable at the same time with a luxurious sushi bar and main dining area
GO: Call 4045 5555 for more info.

 

JUMP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE: BOUNCE
AT TAWAR MALL
Featuring 100 interconnected trampolines housed within huge, colourful spaces, BOUNCE is bound to be your newest obsession. The largest trampoline park in the Middle East, it is packed with never seen before Ninja Warrior style obstacle course, dodge ball competitions, zip-line and so much more. From running up The Wall or launching into the Big Bag to loosening up in the Free Jump arena, the rush of BOUNCE is addictive. Make it as easy or as challenging as you like and watch your dreams of getting airborne come true. You’re never too old or too young to have this much fun!
GO: Call 4408 6500 for more info.

 

GET SPORTY: ASPIRE ZONE
Built to host the Asian Games Doha 2006, the Aspire Zone sports complex offers a one-of-a-kind venue for all things sports. With the aim of developing young sports talent and encouraging an active and healthy lifestyle in Qatar, it offers one of the finest sporting venues in the world. From top-notch training and research facilities to sports education and hospitality, Aspire Zone has all the facilities under one roof. Apart from some amazing sports facilities, guests can also enjoy various activities and entertainment events at Aspire Park!
GO: Call 4413 8188 for more info.

  

PAMPER YOURSELF: SHARQ VILLAGE & SPA,
THE SPA
A tranquil retreat, The Spa at Sharq Village & Spa takes pampering to another grade of bliss. With four spa villages aimed at creating a sense of inner peace and well-being, the award-winning luxury spa is the largest in Doha. As soon as you step into the stunning interiors of the Six Senses Spa, you are instantly transported to a totally new realm. With over 250 unique and exotic spa treatments and rituals that reflect the spirits and traditions of the Far East and Arabic times, it is your one-way ticket to ultimate relaxation!
GO: Call 4425 6999 for more info.

 

SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP: MALL OF QATAR
Your ultimate destination for shopping, dining, hospitality and entertainment service, Mall of Qatar takes you on a journey that will capture your senses. Offering a multitude of delectable culinary offerings, best in live performances and family entertainment as well as unlimited shopping outlets, Mall of Qatar is a go-to for tourists and locals alike. The world’s first mall to recruit an in-house theatre crew, the mall also includes live entertainment as part of ‘MOQ Live’. From 360 degree acts and shows performed on the multi-lift rotating Festival Stage – the options are truly endless!
GO: www.mallofqatar.com.qa for more info.

 

TREAT YOURSELF TO A STAYCATION: FOUR SEASONS HOTEL DOHA
The epitome of palatial Arabic luxury, Four Seasons Hotel Doha brings together the very best of the city all under one roof. With ten restaurants and lounges, a three-storey Spa and Wellness Centre, comprehensive business facilities and a private beach, the hotel promises a tranquil retreat from all the hustle and bustle. Home to the world’s largest Nobu, this slice of paradise is a haven for business travelers and pleasure seekers alike. Offering an unparalleled blend of modern luxury and classical charm, your stay at Four Seasons Hotel Doha is something you won’t be forgetting anytime soon!
GO: Call 4494 8888 for more info.