40 reasons why we love Doha

Food, adventure, shopping, sport and more things to do in Qatar

40 reasons why we love Doha

1 Order karak at tea time:
Qatar does not have an official national drink, but this sweet and spicy tea comes close. The simplicity of a paper cup, evaporated milk and slight cardamom flavouring makes it an understated treat and a Doha favourite for less than QR5.
Tea Time, various locations, (4411 8841).

2 Early morning walk on the beach:
The weather is good, the water is clear so hit the beach whenever you can. Go glam and head for an exclusive beach club such as at The St. Regis Doha, where you can rent a private cabana for QR3,000 for the entire group and use plunge pools, TV, room service and kitchens on the exclusive strip. Or save cash and get a DIY-surfer vibe at Fuwairit Beach for budget tan-topping.
The St. Regis Doha, West Bay (4446 0000).

3 Enjoy a business lunch with a view

We’re all in favour of a visit to French restaurant and West Bay stalwart, La Varenne, at any time. Visit for a midweek lunch, however, and you will be seated for an award-winning business lunch comprising innovative dishes and quality service. What’s more, the views from the 28th floor of the Tornado Tower are memorable to say the least.
La Varenne, Tornado Tower, West Bay (4499 0680).

4 Go dune-driving and sand-sledding:
4x4s are not built for mall car parks and traffic jams, they’re made to be launched across the dunes and over sandy hills and valleys. Get the best thrills with a professional dune bashing tour. It is a short (road) drive to Mesaeed where the dunes are more impressive (meaning terrifyingly exhilarating) to drive across. Most tours include photo calls and traditional coffee and date snacks.
Inbound Qatar Tours, (7745 1196).

5 Have your breath taken at the Museum of Islamic Art:

You shouldn’t need an excuse to visit one of the most iconic buildings in Qatar. Of course, it does regularly host stunning exhibitions (check out the Tipu Sultan show until January 24, 2015), has regular Arabic and chamber music performances and events in the nearby park. But the building itself, with a stunning waterfront location, and its incredible café, demand year-round attention.
Museum of Islamic Art, Al Corniche Street (4422 4444).

6 Indulge yourself at a luxury spa:

This is a city which loves to spa. For regal levels of indulgence, we suggest you try out the Grand Royal package at the Grand Hyatt’s Jaula Spa. The price is hefty but for a ritual including exfoliating black sand body polish, a full body wrap, aromatherapy massage and an haute facial, there is nothing else quite like it.
QR2,500. Grand Hyatt Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4448 1056).

7 Eat your weight in grilled meat at Turkey Central:

By our reckoning, this is the best budget restaurant in Doha. It might not be the only place you can get mountains of mixed grill for alarmingly small amounts of cash, but we admire the fact that quality is not scrimped in the process. People watching the clientele and guessing which of the two dozen varieties of Turkish mezze they will choose is always a fun game to play in the bright and cheerful dining room.
Turkey Central, Al Nasr Street (4443 2927).

8 Split your sides at a comedy show:
Regional guffaw manufacturers the Laughter Factory have been bringing Britain’s brightest stand-ups to the Middle East for nearly two decades. While Doha is a relative newcomer to the tour, we’ve loved every one of the shows to come to Shehrazad at the Radisson Blu. For a low key, high fun night out it is hard to beat.
Check www.thelaughterfactory.com for monthly updates.

9 Haggle for souvenirs at the souks:
Of course there are malls (we’ll come to that in point 27) but for regional authenticity combined with tourist-attracting flair, you can’t beat a spot of souk shopping. The faux-tradition of the relatively newly built Souq Waqif is a favourite for tourist tat, clothing, fragrance, souvenirs and more. Find a café selling shisha or a trader willing to barter on price and you’ve got an afternoon sorted.
Souq Waqif, just off the Doha Corniche and adjacent to Grand Hamad Street.

10 Enjoy serenity at Katara Cultural Village:
Everything we love about Doha condensed into a small space. Art, food, events, a beach and much more besides in a single complex. A large amphitheatre has regular talks, presentations and seminars of a cultural tone if you have an urge to be a little learned. There is an eclectic mix of events and exhibitions, meaning you are as likely to witness photography shows and film screenings as you are traditional music recitals and poetry slams.
Katara Cultural Village, (4408 0000).

11 Give yourself a thrill trying a new watersport:
This being a coastal city, there are plenty of places to get your splash on. The Diplomatic Club has decent facilities and plenty of options meaning you can try wakeboarding, waterskiing banana boat rides and more in the blue waters of the West Bay lagoon. Fees are hourly or daily for most equipment, rental and lessons, and there is a good stretch of sand for refreshment-filled recovery from your exertions.
The Diplomatic Club, West Bay (4484 7444).

12 Listen to cool music at Jazz at Lincoln Center:

Just one of the coolest nights out in the city, whether you are a big fan of the genre or not. This is the first Jazz at Lincoln Center venue outside of New York City and internationally renowned musicians come from the Big Apple to meet, greet and jam for music lovers in our city. Musical director and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis is the big name behind the music and an impressive line-up of jazz performers is lined up between now and the end of the year.
St. Regis Doha, West Bay (4446 0226).

13 Take a selfie next to public art:
Not all the exhibitions are in the galleries in Doha; many of the best pieces are in the streets. Head out to the desert and find looming vertical steel sculptures by American sculptor Richard Serra. Drive through underpasses and see beautiful works of calligraffiti by Tunisian artist eL Seed. Take a flight out of the new Hamad International Airport and come up against the 6.8 metre Urs Fischer Lamp teddy bear.
Various locations.

14 Munch through the day Market by Jean-Georges brunch:

There is a brunch for every occasion and most budgets in Doha, but if we could only sample one more it would be a visit to the award-winning Market by Jean-Georges spread in the W Doha hotel. Alongside the freshly shucked oysters, dozens of dessert options and sushi, there is live jazz music and a lively atmosphere.
W Doha Hotel and Residences, West Bay (4453 5135).

15 Eat five star food from a celebrity kitchen:
We don’t have Michelin stars here in Qatar just yet, but the brightest names in the culinary world are here. Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy, Gordon Ramsay and Vineet Bhatia all have a restaurant here and make regular visits to the kitchens. If you have seen them on TV and bought the cook books then make a visit to the restaurant as well.

16.Sleep under the stars (or at least camp):
Give yourself a taste of Bedouin life and ditch a hotel and pitch a tent instead. The desert skies at night give excellent opportunities for stargazing and dinner cooked over a self-made fire is a back-to-nature experience you won’t forget in a hurry. If you don’t have the facilities or the inclination to do it yourself, book an overnight desert experience with one of Doha’s many tour operators. Most have traditional-style tents, Arabic barbecue dinner and entertainment such as dune driving or camel rides as well.
Qatar Ventures, Barwa Village (4016 4750).

17 Ride the flumes at Aqua Park:

Whether you are coasting around on a lazy river or spinning and turning on the pulse-quickening Boomerango waterslide, there is nothing quite like an afternoon at Aqua Park. We especially like the Space Boat ride and side-by-side slides for racing against mates.
Aqua Park Qatar, Salwa Road (4490 5872).

18 Great travel options:

As much as we love being in Doha, it is also an incredible travel hub from which to see the rest of the world. Thanks to Qatar Airways and the One World Alliance’s massive network, it is easy to trot the globe as a travel hub from which to see the rest of the world, thanks to Qatar's location. What’s more, the new Hamad International Airport is likely to attract yet more new routes and airlines. Plus there is a giant teddy bear in the departure lounge – what’s not to love about that?
Hamad International Airport, (4449 6688).

19 Watch films for free at the Doha Film Institute:
Film is an important part of the cultural make-up of Doha. The annual film festival is an important date on the global cinema schedule and attracts powerful names from Hollywood, as well as many less well-known filmmakers. Unlike other film hubs, however, the awareness-building does not drift when the festival rolls out of town and the Doha Film Institute impresses year-round. Free screenings are well curated and always challenging. If you have only ever watched films in a multiplex cinema, go along to try something new.
Doha Film Institute, Katara (4420 0505).

20 Get sweaty at the Aspire Zone:

One of the most genuinely advanced sport facilities in the world. With superb facilities for football, athletics, a lake, a 50,000 person capacity arena and a cutting edge gym, this is where we like to come and get our sweat on. The gym membership is reasonable but for true budget work-outs, jog past the picnickers in the park and use the al fresco exercise machines dotted around the track.
Aspire Zone, Al Aziziyah (4447 6786).

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21 Pick your own seafood at L’Wzaar:

Easily one of the largest restaurants in Qatar and also our favourite place to savour seafood. While the à la carte choices are impressive, if limited, it is the fresh fish counter where you will find the highlights. An enormous variety of succulent fish, often caught that same day, are laid out and diners are invited to pick the one they want and a style to be cooked in. Splendid.
Katara Cultural Village, West Bay Lagoon (4408 0710).

22 Make new friends and join a society:
This is a very friendly place and most people have a circle of friends-for-life within weeks of arriving. But there is always plenty of opportunity to make the circle bigger. Join a club or society of like-minded people based on nationality (American Women’s Association, www.awaqatar.com; Qatar Irish Society, www.qataririshsociety.com) common interests (Qatar Squash Players, www.meetup.com/Qatar-Squash-players; Qatar National History Group, www.qnhg.com) or just to meet somebody new (Doha Mums, www.dohamums.com; Doha Toastmasters, www.dohatoastmasters.com).

23 Find wisdom at the Arab Museum of Modern Art:

Mathaf, to give this cultural hotspot its shortened name, means museum in Arabic. But in truth this is much more than that. It is a cultural hub and a centre for Qatari creativity. In partnership with the Qatar Foundation, this centre hosts a permanent exhibition of cutting edge Arab art. The collection is curated by a team overseen by H.E. Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani and contains thousands of paintings and sculptures. There are also regular events and temporary exhibitions.
Museum of Modern Art, Education City (4402 8855).

24 Cycle along the Corniche:
In just a few short minutes you can see all of Doha life on the corniche. Take a seat on the waterside wall and just watch the passers-by or make use of the track and jog or cycle the full length of the water way. It is several kilometres long but you can see a picture postcard version of Doha as you move from West Bay towards the airport and back.

25 Eat because you love food at Doha’s best restaurant:

Look across this list and it is obvious that we, like most people living in this food-loving city, like to eat out. But one eatery stands out above all others and that is our 2014 Time Out Doha Restaurant of the Year, IDAM by Alain Ducasse. Philippe Starck-designed interiors, stunning Museum of Islamic Art location and a Mediterranean menu designed by legendary chef Ducasse, it is a treat for all the senses. We cannot recommend a meal here highly enough.
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha Port (4422 4488).

26 Take up kitesurfing:

Make your own breeze by taking to the waters and giving kitesurfing a go. It’s an extreme experience in more ways than one and is sure to give you a buzz. Combining aspects of paragliding, windsurfing and wakeboarding all in one, you really can say you’ve done it all. You can experience the activity at a number of prominent Doha beaches.
Flo kite school, West Bay (5504 1039).

27 Trawl the mall:

Shopping is something of a national sport in Qatar and one that is taken very seriously. The mall, therefore, is central to Doha life and an entertainment hub taking in dining, entertainment, beauty and relaxation, as well as simple retail. International high-street and top end fashion brands can be found at many malls and no stay in the city can be called successful without at least a visit to City Centre Doha (Conference Centre Street, 4483 9990) Villagio Mall (Al Waab Street, 4413 5444) and Landmark Mall (Al Shamal Road, 4487 5222).

28 Ride a donut while cooking a barbecue:
You can be chef, captain and conductor of fun all from a single chair if you sail The Diplomatic Club’s BBQ Donuts. These circular floating platforms are large enough to hold up to eight people and come equipped with a built-in barbecue. So while sailing in the West Bay shores you are able to cook up a barbecue (ingredients are provided) while checking out one of the best, and always changing, views in Doha.
The Diplomatic Club, West Bay (4484 7450).

29 Learn to scuba dive and swim with turtles:

Living in a coastal city you really should make the most of the sea and before long that means scuba diving. An organisation such as the Qatar Divers offers lessons all the way from beginner level to advanced teaching skills. Swim with hundreds of fish, turtles and even sharks at reefs and wrecks in local waters.
Qatar Divers, Al Waab Street (4431 3331).

30 Take a yacht tour:
Despite what friends back home may think, we don’t all spend our time in Doha driving Ferraris and flying in private jets (for us, that’s the bosses back in Dubai). But with some careful planning and a few mates, you can spend an afternoon at least on a yacht. Doha Yachting has a range of craft from fisherman’s friend, Gia (36ft) to the party favourite Lavendar at 46ft and plenty of style.
Doha Yachting, Lusail Marina Promenade (3000 4466).

31 Because life can be good here:
Let’s face it, many of us are lucky enough to enjoy the perks of a tax-free salary but there is more to life here than that. Smiling staff fill up your car at petrol stations (while also giving change from a QR100 note for filling it up), there are drive-through banks, year round sunshine, good accommodation – the whole city can be traversed in minutes and learning a new language is something to do as a hobby rather than just to survive. So yes, it is very convenient and did we mention it is tax-free?

32 Eat the food of love at Gordon Ramsay:
Hip, handsome and intimate, this is a restaurant with style. It is also our pick of the most romantic restaurants in Doha. Exclusive but in the private rather than elitist sense of the word, it has a smattering of tables facing a central fireplace and tables with conversation-starting love seats. The food comes from a kitchen team trained and selected by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
St. Regis Doha, West Bay (4446 0105).

33 Marvel at architecture and sculptures:
Doha has an eclectic mix of fantastic architecture. Some of the quirkiest and most impressive buildings in the world, by some of the planet’s greatest architects, are in show on Doha, so stop what you’re doing for five minutes and take in the view. Why not view all of West Bay’s glory from the Corniche in the evenings, with the fountains next to the Al Mourjan restuarant performing magic in front of your eyes. Brilliant for a romantic evening or just for something to do.

34 Travel Qatar at the Lost City:
Drive a little out of Doha and travel to the Lost City of Zakreet. Hidden away a few miles north of Dukhan it is an area that, for one reason or another (speculation is rife) is entirely deserted. Was it part of a film set, or something to do with a 2022 World Cup promo video? Definitely worth a visit, this peculiar tourist site is guaranteed to give you a good day out, and you can add your own myth to the mystery.

35 Kayak the mangroves:

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: kayaking the mangroves is just absolutely awesome! Go north of Doha to the Al Khor area and get your fill of natural beauty. If you want to see nature at its very best, the most exciting, healthy and entertaining way is to go by kayak. You’ll get a guide and a great experience. It will last between 2-3 hours (under two hours of paddling). Go on, you know you want to.
QR200, Paddle Qatar, info@paddleqatar.com (5549 0895).

36 Ponder over amazing art exhibitions:
There are fantastic art exhibitions in the city of Doha. Some of the most intriguing in the world, we think. Of course there is the Museum of Islamic Art and the Arab Museum of Modern Art, but why not try some of the others, such as ALRIWAQ, which has hosted incredibly famous art exhibitions, including that of Damien Hirst; get your fill of education at the Katara Arts Centre; or give the Anima Gallery a go, with a permanent exhibition and special events to delight and intrigue your art and culture needs.
Various venues.

37 Learn to ride horses:

Ok, for those uninitiated in horse riding, it can be a daunting thought. Fear not, though, as the Al Sahqab Riding Academy caters for all people, even those new to the idea. They offer lessons for all levels, from ages six to adults, and are able to get you on the saddle and away, with over 980,000 square metres to prance to your heart’s content. Horse riding has never been so easy.
Al Sahqab Riding Academy, Al Rayyan, email: ridingacademyinfo@qf.org.qa (4454 6320).

38 Burn fat at bootcamp:
So we’ve told you to eat loads of food in this feature. Now it’s time for us to be responsible and tell you to burn it off before the Doha bulge gets you. Really? It already has hit you! Bootcamp Qatar has a group of fitness classes held at various venues and will help you keep in shape and lose those pesky pounds.
QR650 per month. Open 6am-8pm, info@bootcampqatar.com (5598 5495).

39 Time for a staycation:

Sometimes you just want to chill in your city and have luxury at the same time. Why not go for a one or two night break at one of the fabulous hotels available in Doha? The W Doha is one of so many hotels that is sure to make your smile beam from side-to-side for the duration of your stay, and a trip to the Spice Market for dinner will leave the tastebuds fully satisfied; that’s a Time Out guarantee.
W Doha, West Bay Lagoon, (4453 5000).

40 Get ready for what is coming next:

Perhaps best of all is what is still to come. Within eight years we’re going to have, deep breath, the Doha Metro, Msheireb Down Doha shopping and leisure district, Qatar National Museum, Mall of Qatar, Lusail City and the small matter of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. Here’s to eight more years…

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