Msheireb Enrichment Centre
If you’re a culture vulture, this is a centre you shouldn’t miss. It’s set on a ship, docked at the Corniche, near Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel. You can take a peek at Qatar’s glorious past here, through displays of historic artefacts, antique work tools and its treasure trove of information on Qatar’s unprecedented growth. There are beautiful images, architectural highlights and interactive displays.
Sheraton Park, Al Corniche (4404 0222).
Museum of Islamic Art
This architectural marvel is more than just a museum, it’s a true cultural hub. The main atrium offers spectacular West Bay views through three-storey-high windows and the museum’s permanent exhibitions display beautiful objects from across the Islamic world – everything from metalworks, ceramics and textiles to manuscripts – that date as far back as the 9th Century. It’s worth taking part in some of the free tours, too. The Museum of Islamic Art is one of the most picture-perfect places in Qatar.
Doha Corniche, www.mia.org.qa (4422 4444).
Shaikh Faisal Museum
Not only is this museum unique, it’s very interesting. H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani’s collection of antiques and art is perhaps one of the most enviable in the world. Since the 1960s, H. E. Sheikh Faisal has curated a staggering collection of works, including ceramics, cars, religious texts and more, and there are around 3,000 objects on display over five huge halls in his museum at Al Samriya. You’ll come across mannequins dressed in traditional bridal outfits, 18th century Yemeni douqas (a type of amulet worn around the neck with a handwritten religious citation), 17th century Iranian swords, rusty bicycles, vintage cars and lots more. Perhaps most impressive are the fossils, including the head and neck of a Plesiosaurus found in the depths of the Sahara desert, dating back around 120 million years.
Busy, bustling and vibrant, this is one of the most Qatari experiences you can have in the city. Although the souk was rebuilt in the last decade or so, it sits on the original site of a Bedouin market, so the stone and wooden shops are still authentic and atmospheric. Thursday nights are liveliest, and during Ramadan, these are truly special. You’llfind cultural performances taking place, stalls selling traditional Qatari dishes. You’ll encounter greatly immersive experiences here that you can soak up throughout the month.
Al Souq (4433 6444).
You can spend an entire day taking in the culture in this part of town. The historic fort and its surrounding area are recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The fort itself was built in 1938 and was used by the armed forces until around 30 years ago. Now, it’s a museum housing many artefacts and displays, including pottery and archaeology exhibits. The building is the main attraction, though, as are the striking views from its battlements. Drive around it to explore the ancient settlements. If you choose to explore the fort itself, you’ll also find cultural workshops taking place here, that you can sign up for.
GPS: 25.976929, 51.045496.