If you follow me on my social media or read my posts, then I guess you already know that I am a huge fan of culture-related activities. This doesn’t mean that I visit every single museum of every city I go to, but that I will definitely do something culture-ist. I will visit specific museums that I personally find interesting, an art show, or watch a movie. I will even have a coffee in a café with art drops like the Van Gogh one in Bucharest.
Nevertheless, let me explain that ‘culture’ doesn’t necessarily mean art and museums. It stands for religion, local habits and food, as well. And respect, above all.
I now live in Doha and how couldn’t I visit the culture spots? At least many of them. I must inform you that the capital of Qatar is showing a genuine interest in the arts, thus, very often various cultural institutions organize related exhibitions.
Important notice: I truly believe that art connects people and cultures – it has no geographic boundaries, so get ready to embrace diversity!
Let’s explore together the 10 cultural things you can do in Doha and forgive me if I miss anything- I still have so many things to see!
Art @ Souq
1. First things first. You have to visit Souq Waqif, the most traditional and authentic place in Doha and specifically the Art Gallery. There, on the narrow streets you will see many local artists presenting their work. Either they draw faces or places; either they use paints or just a pencil, the result is amazing!
Image via Facebook page of MIA
2. After a ten minute walk from Souq, you will reach the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), a beautifully designed building, which offers a large collection of Islamic art. It is considered to be an architectural masterpiece that shows important pieces of the local history. Later on, you can enjoy a cup of coffee at the amazing MIA Park, which also happens to offer breathtaking views.
The Amphitheater in *Katara; Photo via http://www.katara.net/en/
3. Visit the Katara Cultural Village. It’s an inspiring place that embraces multicultural activities and aims to show that culture overcomes national boundaries and unites people. In Katara, you will find various exhibitions and workshops, plus, there are various halls to visit. The Opera House, the Drama Theatre, the Amphitheater, Katara Arts Studios and the Film Institute are just a few landmarks of Katara Cultural Village.
View from Katara Cultural Village
4. While in Doha you should make a cruise with a ‘dhow’ or a traditional wooden sailing boat. You will cruise around the most important landmarks of the city, enjoy the views of the skyscrapers and you may even experience the Doha sunset, which happens to be one of the most amazing ones I have ever seen! This activity may be touristy, yes, but you will ride the famous Qatari sailing boat, used by merchants and fishermen in the past.
Qatar International Food Festival 2017
5. Various festivals run in Doha really often. Every year, the Qatar International Food Festival occurs – a festival of flavors from almost every part of the world. Don’t forget that food connects people. The Food Festival is an annual March event, so if you are here during this time, please pay a visit. Totally worth it. Besides that, there are many other festivals, such as the Chocolate, Tea and Coffee Festival, which runs in February and I attended it, the Biryani Festival (“biryani” is a delicious Indian dish) or the Greek Food Festival (Yay!), which of course I attended! See? Food and taste is a great way to meet cultures and locals.
6. The State Grand Mosque of Doha is one of the largest mosques in Qatar, constructed in the 20th century. The building is imposing and it consists of a creative blend of both Arabic and modern architecture.
7. Near the Souq Waqif, you will find Al Koot Fort (also known as Doha Fort). It was built as a police station and now it’s a museum. With no doubt, Doha Fort reveals many interesting facts of Doha’s history and at the same time it offers an insight of the cultural and architectural style that used to characterize Doha.
8. A day at the desert. It’s a must! To be honest with you, I have done that in Dubai, and I thought that the experience should be the same. It is said that Doha desert is untouched and smooth. The scenery by itself will make you think that you hold the main role in a movie. Imagine! You are out in the desert, surrounded by dunes!
9. Eat at an Arabic restaurant so that you get to taste all the local dishes and delicacies.
10. Last but not the least, if you live in Doha, you may be lucky enough to be invited by a local at their tent, out in Al Khor. Locals used to rent tents and spend their weekends there. It’s like having a house out of the city. Nevertheless, this isn’t a house. It’s something much more interesting! So, the other day, a Qatari invited us to his tent. He arranged a wonderful lunch by the sea, making sure that we were all satisfied. I found that they are indescribably kind and we can take pride in this proof that all people can co-exist under the same roof, despite their differences, as long as they respect each other.
Have you been in Doha? What was the highlight of your trip?
By Maria Petropoulou