Off the Persian Gulf, there is a hidden pearl amidst the sandy dunes that is increasing in popularity as a once in a lifetime travel destination. While Qatar tends to attract visitors with many zeroes in their bank accounts, it is becoming more affordable for the upper-middle class and offers a wide range of activities that will make anyone stalking your Instagram story jealous.
So what is Qatar famous for? Qatar is a country famous for its luxury tourism industry in recent years. Qatar boasts a blossoming art world with myriad museums, countless adventures, renowned athletic competitions, and some of the most eclectic shopping and food.
There are several historical landmarks, festivals, and scenic natural landscapes!
Whatever kind of vacation you’re looking for, Qatar caters to just about anyone. Stunning architecture, traditional artisanal crafts, some of the world’s oldest heritage sites, mangrove kayaking, golf, camel racing, dune paragliding, lounging near crystal clear waters, urban hot air balloons, kitesurfing, the most stunning modern malls carrying all the luxury brands or more traditional marketplaces that will transport you, the list goes on and on. In this article, we’ll discuss some of our favorite places and activities in Qatar!
Architecture: Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies
Perhaps one of the most unique looking mosques in the world, this architectural landmark will leave you in complete awe; it’s more than just a pretty building, it’s an experience. It is a tasteful and modern place of worship where Muslims and non-muslims can learn more about Qatar’s religion, but also about the Islamic Golden Age that completely changed the face of world history. Basque in a white glow, natural light and curved and spiralling spaces inlaid with gypsum carvings and ornate calligraphy as you marvel at the structural genius of this building.
Heritage Site: Al Jassasiya Petroglyphs
Qatar’s history spans from the Neolithic Stone Age nearly 12,000 years ago, This heritage site will transport you back to the very first undertakings of humankind and help you appreciate just how far we have come since our modest beginnings.
There are over 800 carvings at this site depicting the trappings of proto-agrarian societies, offering you a spectacularly well-preserved time capsule of a time shrouded in simplicity, but also a deep-rooted enigma. For example, you can see depictions of some of the world’s oldest board games! If you’re a history enthusiast, this is a must-see location.
Outdoor Activity: Al Thakira Mangrove Kayak Tour
If skydiving or hot air balloons are not your thing, consider taking a relaxing journey through a forest submerged underwater at the Al Thakira Mangrove with your trusty paddle in hand
When one thinks of Qatar, perhaps they imagine acres upon acres of dunes cooking under the blistering and unrelenting heat of the sun. However, this mangrove is an oasis for a uniquely resilient tree: the Avicennia Marina that thrives in very salty water.
Its roots and branches are decorated with colourful coral and oceanic vegetation and can be explored either from the surface of the water or with a snorkel. Keep your camera handy if you want to snap pictures of elegant flamingos or vibrant fish and arthropods like lobsters, shrimp, barnacles and more!
Shopping: Villaggio Mall
This spectacular shopping district with indoor canals is directly inspired by the scenic Italian city of Venice. Aside from its bright colours, the mall contains a theme park called Gondolania which includes ice hockey rinks, a bowling alley and even a high-speed roller coaster.
This behemoth of a mall will keep you busy for hours whether or not you’re a fashion aficionado, a food lover or someone just looking for some family-friendly fun. One thing is for sure, the opulent design of this mall will leave you breathless…
Cultural Experience: Al Enna
As a homage to Qatar’s traditional Bedoin roots, you might want to adventure into the desert and spend the night stargazing from the dunes. Al Enna is the season for camping in the sands that occurs for a set period every year. Here you’ll have the opportunity to engage in a plethora of activities, from simply sharing a meal around the campfire to more exotic fun like parasailing and dune-bashing.
Most of the campsites are along Khor Al Adaid, the place where the Persian Gulf kisses the desert. Atop an All-Terrain buggy or kite-surfing sandboard, you can surf across the dunes as the coastal salt-sprayed wind gently caresses you.
This is truly an opportunity of a lifetime and you can do it all under the guidance of experienced desert dwellers as they guide you through the Qatari countryside home to a number of exotic animals and plant life like the dugong sea cow or the Arabian oryx.
Museum: National Museum of Qatar
This museum was a contender for the top architectural pick with its formidable disk shapes pavilions that imitate the crystalline patterns of the desert rose. This museum’s mission is to showcase its country’s history in such an immersive way that every hallway feels like it tells a story.
11 galleries enshrine more than just visual art, but profound sensory experiences that you can even hear, smell and feel.
There is a profound respect for Qatar’s material history though there are many pavilions that also display the interconnected nature of the global art world with art installations from cultures all across the world donated by benefactors from their private collections.
The National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) is dedicated to bringing to life the unique story of Qatar and its people. It actively gives voice to the nation’s rich heritage and culture and demonstrates our extensive network of ties with other nations and people around the world. Designed as a vibrant and immersive space, diverse communities can come together and experience Qatar’s past, present and future.
Interconnected galleries take visitors on a visual journey through Qatar, telling the story of the country, from the pre-historic to the modern era. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, the National Museum of Qatar draws inspiration from and recreates the naturally occurring crystal formations known as the desert rose.
Built around Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani’s original palace, and the seat of government for 25 years, the National Museum of Qatar gives voice to Qatar’s heritage whilst celebrating its future. It spans a whopping 430,500 square feet.
Night on the Town: Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra
For an evening opportunity to wear your finest haberdashery or gown, consider purchasing a ticket to the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra for the chance to experience the magic of a world-class aural symphony.
Trained in both European and Arabic classics with hand-picked professional players from around the globe, the QPO boasts some of the most talented performers for audiophiles. They are constantly pushing the stylistic boundaries of interpretation of the orchestral world’s finest composers.
Why Visit Qatar?
Qatar is one of the most spectacular tourist destinations for those who have an appetite for oriental exoticisms whilst remaining within the bubble of a first-world developed nation. This list is by no means extensive and there is so much more to experience for those willing to leave their comfort zones.