Over the past few centuries, Qatar has evolved into a unique landscape that is a beautiful blend of cutting-edge modernity and rich traditions. Underneath the gleaming structures and modern architecture, lies a beating heart of culture and history that is waiting to be explored.
If you’re someone who likes to immerse yourself in a country’s cultural heritage, then read on to find all the exciting things you can add to your itinerary to soak in as much of the amazing Qatari culture on your trip.
From museums to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, here’s everything you can do to explore Qatar.
Discover the rich Islamic history at the Museum of Islamic Art
The stunning museum is considered as the crown jewel of Qatar’s museums and is a must-visit for various reasons. Not only does it offer a comprehensive and in-depth look at various forms of Islamic art, but it’s also been designed by legendary architect I.M. Pei, the genius behind the iconic glass pyramid outside the Louvre in Paris. Just like Qatar, the building is a blend of traditional Islamic motifs and modern architecture. It is situated next to Doha’s central waterfront promenade and is easily accessible for tourists.
Take a deep dive into Qatar’s history by visiting the National Museum of Qatar
Inspired by the naturally occurring crystal formations in the desert commonly known as the ‘desert rose’, this gorgeous building has been designed by award-winning architect Jean Nouvel. It spans 430,500 square feet and was built around the original palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, the former Emir of Qatar. Visit the museum to not only behold the architectural wonder, but to experience the multitude of interconnected galleries and exhibitions that give a unique insight into the experiences and lives of Qatari people.
Take a crash course on Qatari culture at the Katara Cultural Village
With its central amphitheatre and collection of art galleries, the Katara Cultural Village is known to host exciting exhibitions, workshops, plays, and other performances and is a one-stop destination for all things culture and entertainment. Not only this but it is also located next to a public beach where you can enjoy a variety of water sports if you want an adrenaline rush.
Shop till you drop at Souq Waqif
If you want to experience the local life of Qatar, then head over to Souq Waqif. The market was established in the 20th century and is a traditional Arab souq where you can hunt for bargains on spices, hold a falcon, try delicious street food, visit a sheesha bar, and buy local art.
Go on a desert safari
Nothing is more of a quintessential Qatari experience than going on a desert safari and taking in the magnificence of the sandy desert first-hand. Situated at an hour’s drive from the capital city of Doha, the shifting sand dunes of the Qatar desert are one of the most popular tourist attractions, especially for people who love to explore difficult terrains. Here, you can also visit the stunning Khor Al-Adaid, the inland sea which has been recognised by UNESCO as a natural reserve. Plus, if you’re into adventure sports, you can opt for dune bashing. You can also swim in the beautiful waters to relax and enjoy the stunning landscapes.
Ride alongside the coastline on a traditional dhow
Historically speaking, a dhow is an Arabian sailing ship that was used to transport drinking water, fruit, and other goods for trading. Today, dhows are a unique Qatari cultural element that you must pencil into your schedules. Nowadays, dhows may feature modern amenities for tourists, like a barbeque dinner, that will help you spend a relaxing evening onboard.
Visit the many heritage sites around Doha
Qatar is a treasure trove of art and culture and if you want a break from museums, you can head over to the many historic heritage sites in and around Doha that will help you experience the best of Qatari culture. These include sites like The Old Palace, Barzan Towers, Al Jassasiya Rock Art site, and Zekreet Fort and Mosque.
This article has been written in association with Qatar Tourism.
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