Which area are we off to today?
Actually, this month we’re taking you to a more specific place. Namely, Al Fanar, Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre.
Sounds interesting. Where can I find it?
Right slap bang in the centre of everything, just over the road from the Corniche and next to Souq Waqif. You’ll recognise the building, it’s the one with a striped, swirly minaret.
Is this is the kind of place to just pop into next time I’m having a wander around the souq?
You can pop in at any time during the centre’s opening hours (daily 8am-1pm, 5pm-8pm), but before you do we’d suggest signing up to one of the tours, courses or activities. Their mission is to help non-Arabs understand Islam and Qatari culture and there are numerous ways to get involved.
So, where should I start?
Well, the centre has a library of books about Islamic culture, including their own book Understanding Islam which is available in seven different languages. What’s more, all are completely free of charge to download from the centre’s website. You can also sign up to learn Arabic. The course here is one of the most affordable, costing just QR300, and over several weeks you’ll learn how to read, write and speak pretty proficiently.
What about the tours you mentioned?
You can go on organised tours of the State Mosque or the Grand Mosque at Katara followed by an Arabian meal. There’s also an Islam in the Countryside tour, which is a fascinating insight into local life and culture outside the city. Experience a traditional outdoor majlis and watch the sunset over the Qatari desert (plus it includes a tasty traditional meal).
Anything else we should know?
Early-risers will enjoy the coffee mornings where you can try Arabic coffee, breakfast and snacks while listening to a presentation about Qatari culture. Tuesdays are reserved for a ladies’ coffee morning. It’s perfect for those who have only recently arrived in the city, as well as for those who want to learn more about the country’s culture.
Only at Al Fanar
Hear the Khutbah
On Fridays, Al Fanar offers something completely unique: the chance to hear the khutbah (Friday sermon) in English at the centre’s mosque. Non-Muslims are welcome, and someone from the centre will also meet you beforehand to chat about mosque customs if it would make you more comfortable.
To register to visit, go to www.fanar.gov.qa