To truly explore a country, is to visit destinations that are close to the hearts of the people, their culture and history. These places we recommend to you are no common ones advertised in the media. These rare gems have unique things to check out and see for yourself as they were also discovered, from ear to ear, by the long-stayed local citizens of Qatar.
1. Musfur Sinkhole or Dahl al Musfur Cave
This is one of the largest sinkholes located in the Southwest of Qatar. Many suggests one should take a four-wheel drive, even if a sedan can get there, as it takes about 3 to 4km ride off-road from Salwa Road. It’s a must-visit for those keen on adventures and exploring unusual places shaped by natural causes. The cave is actually layered with a variety of rocks and sediments which is visible as one goes to the very bottom. Experts say that the sinkhole may actually have an extension to a larger cave-system but at the moment it measures at 36 meter deep into the sandy end. The sinkhole reaches to the gypsum layers where one can see small gypsum rocks at the bottom of the sinkhole. When visiting the place, many recommended to wear robust or rock-climbing shoes to help one go down or climb up the sinkhole. There is not much to do but some people meditate or do yoga in the cave, sightseeing traces of wildlife can also be done when you explore the cave with hundreds of nesting birds and desert fox. Interestingly, the atmosphere in the cave is a lot cooler as you go deeper into it. Unfortunately, since the cave is not protected with a proper security guard around, some damaged its natural beauty with some vandalism on the rocks. Nonetheless, this place is worth a visit when you want to explore a new and different habitat in Qatar.
2. Al Arish and Al Jumail Fisherman Villages
Both villages were once home to pioneer settlers of Qatar. All these villages are now an abandon yet huge heritage and historical site today. It captivates the old civilizations in Qatar where most of the peoples’ primary income came from jobs like fishing and pearling – thus the villages were often found close to the shore or coastlines of Qatar. These spots are perfect for those who love to take aesthetical pictures for their Instagram feed and those who are history enthusiasts!
The Al Arish Fisherman’s village is located in Shamal Municipiality, in the northwest of Qatar. The place had around 40 buildings that are now mostly remaining ruins in the area, although people still lived in the area during the 1970s. However, as soon as the oil expansion began in Qatar, the village became completely abandoned.
Al Jumail Fisherman’s village is a 19th-century pearling and fishing area that were abandoned by 1970s and are often called the Ghost Town ever since. The word ‘Jumail’ is actually derived from the word ‘jameel’ in Arabic which means beautiful. The village ruins is located in the northeast of Qatar, nearby Zubarah Fort or Al Ruwais area.
3. Al Ruwais Area – Arsan Cafe, Al Ruwais Beach, Ruwais Port
Located at the northern tip of Qatar, some are unaware of the things the northern coast has to offer – like the current, hottest coffee shop, Arsan Café, which is rebuild within the Al Ruwais Old Police Station. People often go to this coffee shop to have a drink and just enjoy looking out the view of the sea for the sunrise or the sunsets. Al Ruwais beach area stretches far to the New Al Ruwais Corniche towards the west. It’s often a low tide at this particular beach which is safer for kids to play in, hence the reason this place is mostly attracting families. There is also Ruwais Port where they have fishermen boats and big ships coming in with imported goods from different parts of the world (so all the food and goods you see at your favourite supermarket, they first arrived at the Ruwais Port). Although locals say you are not allowed to take pictures in the port, a walk around the port is allowed. Al Ruwais area is very isolated from the city, about 110km away from Doha, which makes it the best place for some peace and quiet time. Although, Al Ruwais beach is still under construction and will turn into an even more interesting site for families to hang out at in the near future.
Location: Arsan Café – https://goo.gl/maps/myz3pr4MmVAn2o418
New Al Ruwais Corniche – https://goo.gl/maps/S9q1p4B2qWWfJauz7
Ruwais Port – https://goo.gl/maps/vyLJ5Bq8AvTpEmko6
4. Al Karaana Lagoon
Al Karaana Lagoon is a man-made lagoon completed in November 2019. It was originally a place where waste and chemicals were thrown into the area which contaminated the water severely. However, Ashgal recently rebuilt the place and protect the area as it is filled with different and rare species of birds like Osprey which is how it became a great attraction for birdwatching. Not only limited as a place to identifying the different species of birds in Qatar, one can find many small fishes and growing mangroves and reeds surrounding the habitat. The lagoon is an especially fun place to explore with family or friends.
5. The Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al Thani Museum
It is the only private museum that display artefacts which were some very personal belongings of a Sheikh. The museum is located near the Dukhan Highway, just about 23km on the outskirts from Doha. The place will leave you in awe as it creates an interesting pathways from one room to another that makes you feel like you are travelling through time and as if you truly experienced living in certain eras or periods of the old days in Qatar. The items and things displayed varies from swords, Holy Quran room, a Qatari house, antique cars, pearl diving ships, medical room, etc. It is most recommended for history-enthusiast to understand and gain more insights on the local history of Qatar. Since it is a private museum, there is an entrance fee at 50QAR per person.
6. Azerbaijani Beach
Rumoured to have one of the most pure and cleanest water compared to all the other beaches in Qatar, it is attracting a lot of tourists and expats in these most recent years. The beach is located at the northeastern part of Qatar and it has been very busy and crowded with people lately. There are no particular rules for dress code and so people are welcome to use their preferred swimwear. The off-road to get there can be a bumpy ride so most people come around with a 4×4 car. Another advantage to this place is it also have several shops which is rare for most beaches in the outskirts of Doha.
7. Bandar Aden in Souq Waqif
When you are so immersed into exploring the traditional market of Souq Waqif, sooner or later, you will find yourself among some of the not-so-hidden and rare gems of the souq! One among many is the Yemeni restaurant called Bandar Aden, serving mouth-watering Yemeni dishes that you could not find anywhere else with its truly authentic Yemeni-style cooking. Not to mention, the restaurant provides traditional rooms where guests sits on the floor and the food is served to guests, just as how Yemeni people traditionally eat with their families. The price range is affordable for all and this place will make one feel in touch with the Middle Eastern culture and way of living.
8. Ghassan’s Green Door
Ghassan A.R. Hajar is an antique collector who had lived in Doha for over 50 years. The man behind the famously known antique shop had gathered all kinds of home decorations from ladies shawls, silverware, woodcrafts, benches, doors and even an old US army cabinet! Though it’s mostly popular for the wood furniture, traditional carpets and rugs imported from India. He had opened the antique shop for people curious to learn about the history and origins of traditional decors from many different Middle Eastern countries like Iran, Syria, Jordan and more. The prices varies from thousands to only 25 QAR. However, as modernity influenced the younger generations’ interests, lesser people know about the place. With the help of Qatari filmmakers, Lubbna Mohsin and Munera Al Dosari, kept his legacy alive by producing a documentary on his “home-turned-exhibit”, hoping to expose the shop to people of Qatar. When looking for some furniture, it is an essential stop to make at Ghassan’s shop in Al Sadd. The shop original place (first picture) had been destroyed and so the shop has moved to a new place but also still located in Al Sadd with a door gate painted in green, which is in accordance with its original symbolic colour (second picture). The new location will be linked below but if you are unsure if you have found the right place where it is located at, you can leave them a message on Instagram or on their FaceBook page.
These are only some of the not-so-hidden gems or kept-as-a-secret places of Qatar that we got to know of. Make sure to visit these places when you are exploring around Qatar.
By: Yohana Sihol Marito Manurung