Your Ultimate Guide to Visit Qatar: The Pearl of the Gulf
Updated On: December 03, 2022
Qatar is in the east of the Arabian Peninsula in southwest Asia, bordering the Persian Gulf. It is surrounded by the Gulf from the north, east, and west, and the arm of the Gulf that separates Qatar from Bahrain from the west is called the Gulf of Bahrain. From the south, its land borders are shared with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
It has several islands, the largest of which is Halul Island. The area of Qatar is about 11,521 km2, and its geography is characterised by its flat, rocky surface, which is topped by a low series of plateaus and limestone hills.
A Brief Overview of Qatar
Doha is the official capital of Qatar. It is on the eastern coast of the Arabian Gulf and is home to more than 40% of the country’s people.
The territory of the State of Qatar consists of rocky desert lands, in which many oases are distributed over 850 low-lying areas. The soil formed in these depressions is the agricultural soil in the country, known as al-Rawdah. In contrast, the soil of the saline depressions is called al-Sabkha, which extends along Umm Saeed’s coasts, the Dukhan region’s coasts, and the southern borders of Qatar.
Qatar’s topography is generally described as flat. Still, some areas are sloping, especially on the northern edge of the eastern coast, and some areas rise gradually from the east to a central limestone plateau.
Qatar was divided into ten cities, or municipalities, before 2004. Since 2010 it has been divided into seven main municipalities, and we will know more about these cities in the coming part.
It enjoys a commercial, cultural and economic status, as it is the home of oil and natural gas, the essential resource for the Qatari economy, and it is famous for its high-rise skyscrapers and many distinctive tourist attractions, such as Doha Corniche, Heritage Village, in addition to the Museum of Islamic Arts.
Al Wakra City
Al-Wakra is one of the cities of the State of Qatar and is on the eastern coast of it. In the past, the city was a small village for fishing and pearl extraction, and the Al-Wakrah Museum, located in it, is considered one of the most prominent tourist attractions in the State of Qatar.
The city contains ancient places, such as mosques, antique houses, and the port, as it includes one of the oldest mosques, Al-Wakrah Mosque, in addition to Al-Wakra Castle.
Al Shamal City
Al Shamal City is located in the northern part of the State of Qatar and was founded in the 1970s, and there are many archaeological sites and prominent historical landmarks, such as Al Zubarah archaeological site, mosques, and ancient markets.
It contains large green spaces, grass fields, and beautiful and picturesque farms, such as Sidra Al Shamal Farm, which is rich in many types of vegetables in addition to honey, and different kinds of animals, like deer, geese, and camels.
Al Rayyan City
The city was named by this name to the freshwater wells in it. With the urban renaissance witnessed by Qatar, many housing units were built for Qatari families, including vital projects that serve its residents.
The city includes many service and educational projects. The most important are universities, colleges, and institutes affiliated with the Qatar Foundation for Education and Science. In 2005, the Racing and Equestrian Club and Aspire Sports City opened, adding to the public gardens, parks, and shops that were already there. It is a huge sports city with the most famous sports clubs, such as Al Rayyan City Club, Al Sadd Al Gharafa, Muaither, and Al Sailiya.
Al Khor City
It is about 57 km from Doha and is considered one of the most attractive places for tourists in Qatar, and it includes scenic nature and beaches suitable for rest and recreation.
The municipality was established in 1972, and it has many tourist and archaeological landmarks such as Barzan Palace, Al-Sakhma village, an ancient historical village, and much more.
Umm Saeed City
This city is located on the eastern coast of the State of Qatar and is considered one of the most important industrial cities in it. It was founded in 1949. It contained the first large oil refinery in Qatar, which was built in the 1960s and later expanded, and many oil refineries were established there.
History of Qatar
The history of Qatar dates back to more than four thousand years BC. It was the first to be inhabited by a group of Canaanite tribes that were engaged in navigation and maritime trade, and because of its strategic location as a port in the Gulf region, it had historical importance.
Qatar had an essential role in the Islamic conquests, as it prepared the first naval fleet to transport armies, and many empires succeeded it. In the 14th century, it was ruled by the Abbasids. While in the 16th century, the Ottomans ruled it for four centuries until their rule declined with the beginning of the First World War in 1914.
It was signed under the British Mandate in 1916, according to a treaty concluded with Britain to protect Qatar and its people. The Qatari regions suffered from the conflicts of the warring tribes for a long time until the Al-Thani family, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani, was able to resolve them in the 19th century.
The Qatari tribes were united under the shade of an independent Qatari emirate ruled by Sheikh Jassim Al Thani in 1878 AD. The Qataris succeeded in consolidating their rule and declaring Qatar’s independence on 3 December 1971.
Culture in Qatar
Qatar has an ancient culture that the people are proud of and strive to revive. Official bodies, such as the Qatar Museums Authority, play an essential role in supporting Qatari culture. The Qatar Fine Arts Society has played an indispensable role in reviving the visual arts in Qatar.
Qatar’s most important aspects of civilisation are reciting Bedouin poetry in important forums, folkloric and Bedouin dances, and some popular celebrations and traditions. The architectural art in Qatar includes old markets, traditional buildings, and ancient engineering designs, and it is worth mentioning that it joined the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 2011.
Economy in Qatar
Qatar’s economy was based mainly on fishing and pearling until oil was discovered in Qatari territory in 1940. The country started to depend on the extraction of natural gas and petrochemical industries in its economy, and it became the primary source of liquefied natural gas, contributing to Qatar’s growth and prosperity.
Qatar ranks 47 in terms of the export economy, and the value of exports for 2017 amounted to $52.3 billion. The important export destinations for Qatar are South Korea, Japan, India, China, and Singapore. As for imports, they include planes, helicopters, spacecraft, cars, and jewellery from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and China.
Education in Qatar
Education has been established in Qatar since 1952. The Education City was built over an area of 14 million square metres, and an initiative to develop public science was launched in 2004.
Many famous international university branches are in Qatar, such as Virginia Commonwealth University, Texas A&M University, George Washington University, and much more. Due to the country’s interest in scientific research, institutes such as the RAND Qatar Policy Institute, the Qatar National Research Fund, and Qatar Science and Technology have been assigned to this.
Sports in Qatar
Many kinds of sports can be practised in Qatar, such as basketball, handball, swimming, table tennis, volleyball, and football. Besides, some sports are famous in the country, like Arabian horse racing, camel racing, and falconry.
The Qatar National Sports Federation was established in 1961. The country hosts many sports annually, such as tennis, golf, and car racing, in addition to the motorcycle race held at the Losail International Circuit in Doha. Twelve stadiums were built, some of which can accommodate nearly 80,000 people, as part of its preparations to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Transportation in Qatar
Qatar has many high-quality local transportations, which allows you to move around easily and comfortably, and here are some of its famous transportation.
Planes: The country has only one airport, Hamad International Airport, and due to the small size of the country, domestic flights are not available.
Buses: There are many buses in Qatar, which you can search on the Internet for their schedules, routes, and maps. They are modern, fast, air-conditioned, and cheap.
Trains: The trains in Doha are among the fastest autonomous trains in the world, and the Doha Metro is one of the most modern metro networks in Asia.
Taxis: Qatar has many taxi companies, as well as taxi stands in malls or hotels. Among the most popular taxi companies in Qatar are Karwa, Careem, and Uber.
Weather in Qatar
Its climate is characterised by heat and high humidity in summer, when temperatures reach 35 degrees and may sometimes reach 50 degrees. The winter, which begins at the end of November and continues until the beginning of February, is usually mild, with temperatures ranging from 10 to 25 degrees.
Things to Do & See in Qatar
Now we have come to the important part, where we will get to know more about the famous spots in the city and what you can do there.
Qatar possesses several qualifications that make it an important tourist destination. It has a distinctive location at the crossroads between East and West, combines originality and modernity with natural desert landscapes, and shows creativity because it is home to an Islamic heritage that spans over 1400 years.
It includes several historical fortresses, such as Doha Castle, Al Zubarah Fort, Umm Salal Muhammad Fort, Yusufiyah Fort, and much more.
Qatar is a modern country due to its high-rise buildings, beautiful gardens, modern technology, and beautiful arts located in several places, such as the Souq Waqif Art Centre, the Virginia Commonwealth University Art Gallery, and others.
Several festivals are held in Qatar, such as the Doha Capital Festival, the Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival, and the Doha Festival for Freedom and Creativity.
The National Museum of Qatar
The National Museum of Qatar is one of the famous places to visit in the country. It is located on the Corniche in Qatar’s capital, Doha, and it was built with a beautiful view of the bay. The museum has many famous collections, including many things from the beginning of the country until now.
It was built in 8 years, and its unique architecture and exquisite interiors distinguish it. Famous architect Koichi Takada designed the interiors, and tourists worldwide will be amazed by the stunning interiors that represent what the museum stands for.
The story of Qatar unfolds across 11 fascinating galleries, all using innovative storytelling methods. Each exhibition provides a unique perspective through time and connects visitors to life between land and sea. It activates one’s senses with a blend of music and oral history storytelling through film and archival photos.
- The museum is open from Sunday to Wednesday – from 9 AM to 7 PM, Thursday & Saturday – from 9 AM to 9 PM, and Fridays from 1:30 PM to 9 PM.
The Doha Festival City
Shopping is considered one of the top things to do in Qatar, and Doha Festival City is one of the most famous and biggest malls. It was built on an area of 600,000 square meters and includes everything you could imagine from brands and much more. You will also find world-class dining options, from restaurants serving authentic delicacies to fast-food giants.
It is where you will find the country’s biggest cinema with the first VOX 4D screens, and besides that, the mall includes Angry Birds World, one of the best theme parks in Qatar for children.
- The Doha Festival City is open Sunday to Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM and Thursday to Saturday – from 10:00 AM to Midnight.
Banana Island is located just 24 km from Doha’s city centre. It is one of the most beautiful places to discover in the country and a perfect place for beach lovers. The island offers calmness for families with many activities that can be done there, such as banana boating.
- The island is open 24 hours.
Katara Cultural Village
It is one of the most famous places in Qatar, where you will learn more about this beautiful country’s culture. There, you will find a theatre, art galleries, gardens, two mosques, and many other things.
The village aims to become a world leader in multicultural activities, a nonprofit organisation, and to preserve and develop Qatar’s heritage and culture.
While you are touring the Katara Cultural Village, you will be able to see restaurants and discover the place, giving you all the information you need about the history of Doha, from its roots to becoming one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
- The Katara Cultural Village is open 24 hours.
Katara Beach is one of the best places in Qatar to practice parasailing. It is perfect for adventure seekers and makes you fly 600 ft. above sea level while being tied to a fast boat. The place attracts many tourists from all over the world, and it is in Doha, one of the most beautiful locations. It includes a separate playing area for kids so that adults can enjoy everything on the beach.
- Katara Beach is open every day from 9:30 AM to 5 PM.
The Museum of Islamic Art
The Museum of Islamic Art is a place that history lovers would like to go. It is in the middle of Doha City on a private island. The museum was magnificently designed by architect I.M. Pei to appear to float on water from certain angles.
The museum includes about 15000 manuscripts and texts from worldwide, such as pottery, textiles, glassworks, and much more. The countries where the collections were collected are India, China, Iraq, and Turkey.
- The Museum of Islamic Art is open from Saturday to Thursday from 9 AM to 7 PM and Friday from 1:30 PM to 7 PM.
One place that attracts many tourists all over the year is where you can traditionally go shopping. Its establishment dates back more than a century and is near Wadi Musheireb in the capital, Doha.
When you visit the market, you will find narrow alleys branching out like a maze with an antique feel, lined with stalls selling everything from spices and traditional medicines to clothes and souvenirs. There are many restaurants, cafes, falconry activities, and a horse racing track.
- The market is open from Saturday to Thursday from 7:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 3:30 PM to 10 PM, and on Fridays from 12.30 PM to 10 PM.
Doha Corniche is another famous place to visit in Qatar. You can start from there by visiting many spectacular spots in the city, and many tourists go there to watch the gorgeous sunset.
You can practice many activities there, such as jet-skiing, where you can rent one and enjoy a 20- to 30-minute session in the water, and you will also find restaurants and cafés where you can have a wonderful meal. Besides that, you can enjoy walking or cycling along the path, strolling in the park, or just relaxing on one of the many benches.
Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum
Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum is one of the most beautiful museums to visit in Qatar. You can get to know more about the country’s history and culture, including a private collection of Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani and some fantastic pieces of history.
When you visit the museum, you will see a car collection of more than six hundred cars, most of which are in excellent condition, and they are loaned out for motor shows, from trucks and convertible cars to steam vehicles and limousines.
- The Museum is open on Sunday from 9 AM to 4 PM, Monday to Thursday from 9 AM to 4:30 PM, Friday from 2 PM to 7 PM, and o Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM.
Aspire Park is considered the largest park in Doha. It is always full of many visitors, whether in the morning or the evening, and it is full of a jogging track, football pitches, and a children’s playground area, making it a perfect place for the family to relax and have a great time.
Also, fountains and solar-powered lights will give you a relaxing moment, and you will love the wonderful nature surrounding you. The park includes the only artificial lake in the country with different marine life; besides that, there are different kinds of plants like boab trees and floss silk trees.
- The Aspire Park is open 24 hours.
When you visit Qatar, you will find many malls. Villaggio Mall is one of them, with incredible architecture inspired by Venetian art, and about 50,000 visitors every day. The mall includes many dining options with a ceiling that resembles the sky, which truly adds to its Venetian charm.
There is an indoor canal that passes right through the premises of the mall, and besides that, there are more than 200 outlets and international brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Dior.
- The Villaggio Mall is open from Sunday to Wednesday from 9 AM to 10 PM, from Thursday to Saturday from 9 AM to 11 PM, and on Friday from 9 AM to 11 AM and from 12:30 PM to 11 PM.
Mall of Qatar
The Mall of Qatar is in Al Rayyan Municipality, just 20 minutes from the middle of Doha City, and it was opened in 2016. It is considered one of the largest shopping centres in the country, including more than 400 stores and more than 80 restaurants that you will love choosing from to have a great meal. Also, the mall has entertainment facilities, including the Magic Planet family entertainment centre and a five-screen VOX Cinemas complex.
Doha Zoo is one of the most amazing attractions in the country. It contains animals of all kinds and different facilities with more than 1500 animal species of various types, including local and desert, and the garden includes large green spaces. You will find a large group of birds and types of pets to which you can give food, such as antelopes.
Al Zubarah Fort
Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani built Al Zubarah Fort, located just outside of Doha City, and it is a famous historical site in the country that you would love to visit and have a great time at.
It was built in 1938 as a coast guard station, but after that, it became a police station. The fort consists of rectangular and three circular towers, forming the entire building. When you enter the fort, you will find rooms built of compressed earth blocks and cement.
Inside the rooms are works of art and many valuable archaeological discoveries, and it is a perfect place for history lovers to discover the place and know more information about the history of Qatar.
- Al Zubarah Fort is open every day from 8 AM to 4 PM.
Al Misfir Cave
It is one of the rare natural landmarks you will find in Qatar. It is 40 metres deep, and when you are inside the cave, you will see the phosphorescent glow while the refracting light provides a moon-like glow. Also, you can see owls or the usual residents of the cave. It is one of the places you would like to visit in Qatar.
The Barzan Towers were built in the 1800s; they went under restoration during the reign of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Jasim Al Thani, and they are considered one of the most famous historical towers in Qatar.
It was said that the towers were used as watchtowers to ensure that there was no invasion, especially from the Ottoman Empire, and they were used for astronomical observations. The Barzan Towers consist of two towers, a small mosque, and a reception room. While you are inside, you can climb the stairs to the top of the tower. The exciting thing is that the thick walls of the tower ensure that the temperature inside the tower is cool enough for anyone inside.
One of the most exciting places you can visit in Qatar with your family is the Educational City, where you can learn more about the educational system and the education that the country offers to international students. There are also top universities and colleges in the city, featuring impressive architecture and top learning institutes.
The MIA Park
The MIA Park is one of the top attractions you can visit with your family. It is a perfect place for a picnic, and the Doha Museum of Islamic Art founded this park. The park is surrounded by the museum on one side and the sea on the other. You can enjoy taking beautiful pictures there, have an excellent time, and relax.
Many musical events are held inside the park, with play areas for children, a bazaar, and many other things to do.
- The MIA Park is open from Monday to Sunday from 8 AM to 10 PM.
Al Thakira Natural Reserve
One of the most popular activities that you can try in Qatar is kayaking, and it is a great thing that you will experience doing in the reserve. It is considered the country’s largest mangrove natural reserve. It is located about 64 km from Doha City and is the perfect place to have an incredible adventure.
Kayaking through the mangroves here becomes even more adventurous, with the magnificent wildlife surrounding you.
Lusail is considered the futuristic city of Qatar, including the Lusail Marina, and it offers leisure and luxury. You can spend a great evening there. The Marina has a Downtown, the North Shore, the South Shore, and luxury villas close to the Marina. The place includes more than 93 yachts and five floating lounges.
While at the Marina, you will find a deck overlooking the sea, a stall, modern furnishings, high steel pergolas, and many other things.
The safari trip is one of the most exciting things you can do in Qatar, where you can try many adventures during your tours, such as dune bashing, sandboarding, camel riding, and much more.
You can choose any kind of trip, whether a full-day, half-day, or overnight safari, and you can choose the perfect time for your journey. It provides you with entertainment like a musical night and dinner.
Also, you can try paragliding, observing the vast desert from a relevant height, and it is better to go on a safari in the winter months as summers can get hot with high temperatures.
The Fuwairit Beach
Fuwairit Beach is an excellent place for families; it is located north of Qatar and is characterised by white sand, a clear blue sea, and a shoreline scattered with pretty pink, white, red, and yellow seashells. It is an isolated place where families will love spending time. Also, children can play around and enjoy swimming in the sea without any safety concerns.
The Pearl Qatar
Pearl Qatar is well-known for its luxury shopping destinations, where you can find everything from the world’s best brands to low-cost options. It extends over 4 km2 and consists of residential, commercial, and luxury hospitality units.
Glamping is another excellent thing to do in Qatar, where you will find a mixture of glamour and camping, and it is a popular thing to do in the country. The Regency Sealine Camp is one of the best places to enjoy fun and comfort. It was designed with modern amenities and a traditional look that makes it appealing and cosy for a romantic stay.
Barbecue dinners are arranged, besides amenities like toiletries, wi-fi connection, dining, event services, and much more.
If you want to have a traditional cruise and see the sunset, try the traditional Dhow cruise, where you can ride a wooden dhow and have a great experience that you will never forget. The tour will take you to the most beautiful places in Qatar, such as the Qatar Pearl and Doha Corniche, and you can do many activities while on the cruise, like traditional music and dancing.
There is also dinner on the cruise, where you can eat the most delicious meal in the country, and the food served is delicious and rich in Qatari flavours.
Souq Al Wakrah
Souq Al Wakrah is as well-known as Souq Waqif in Doha, with a wide range of shops and a large number of tourists visiting every day. Souq Al Wakra is built on the old concept of traditional Qatari markets, and it is one of the few souqs in Qatar that present their original classic vibe to tourists.
You will find at Souq Al Wakrah a promenade on one side and shops and restaurants on the other, making it an excellent choice for family outings.
Jungle Zone Qatar
A lovely and entertaining place to visit in Qatar is the Jungle Zone, which was opened in 2003. It is a place where you can play games and do many things. It attracts many people due to its strategic location in the Plaza Mall and the diversity of games available. It is suitable for all ages and is the best tourist place in Qatar for children.