Doha is the proud capital of the oil and gas-rich emirate of Qatar, a 100-mile peninsula linking Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Its strategic location is not lost on its inhabitants who now enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the Arab world – with a fast-developing tourist and cultural economy to match.
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Where there’s money, there are malls. This is certainly true in oil-rich Qatar – large-scale shopping centres such as the Italian-themed Villaggio (Al Waab Street) and the enormous City Center Mall (Conference Centre), which has more than 250 stores, provide ample opportunity for visitors to make the most of the country’s tax-free status. You’ll find a large number of luxury and multinational brands. For a more traditional Arabian shopping experience, Souq Waqif (Grand Hamad Avenue) is an enjoyable warren of spice shops, fabric stores and open plazas – you’ll even find a falcon store. A gold souk sits adjacent to Souq Waqif.
Food & Drink
It’s not hard to find a quality restaurant in Doha. The destination now draws considerable global attention – thanks in part to the decision to award Qatar the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which has translated into a strong dining scene. Everything from authentic Arabian food to gourmet Western cuisine is widely available. Excellent Lebanese dishes can be found at Al Mourjan Restaurant on the Corniche, while contemporary options such as the Gordon Ramsay Restaurant (St Regis Hotel Doha) and Market by Jean-Georges (W Doha Hotel) offer refined gastronomy. Alcohol is only generally available at venues within international hotels.
Qatar Tennis Open
Drawing big crowds to the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, Qatar’s annual tennis tournament has been running since the early 1990s and been won by the likes of Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Boris Becker.
Qatar Golf Masters
Doha’s yearly golf championship is now a fixture on the tour circuit, with everyone from Rory McIlroy to Ernie Els in regular attendance. It takes place at Doha Golf Club and attracts spectators from across the Middle East and further afield.
Doha Trade Fair
Qatar’s biggest shopping carnival comes to Doha at the start of each year, with more than 550 exhibitors showcasing and selling new goods. You’ll find everything from toys, gadgets and new technology to fashion items, perfume and cosmetics.
World Powerboat Championship
Qatar hosts one of the nine races that make up the F1 World Powerboat Championships, a spectacle that draws tens of thousands of spectators to the Doha Corniche waterfront. The boats themselves regularly reach speeds of up to 160mph.
Doha Tribeca Film Festival
Doha’s international film festival enjoys considerable prestige, despite only being launched in 2009 – past guests include Kevin Spacey, Robert de Niro and Salma Hayek. It takes place over eight days, using venues such as the excellent Museum of Islamic Arts.
Doha’s rising reputation among business and leisure travellers has been mirrored by an expansion of its high-end hotel portfolio, with recent years seeing the emergence of impressive properties such as the Kempinski Residences & Suites (West Bay Al-Qassar Street), which has 370 rooms, and the Victorian-style Grand Heritage Doha Hotel and Spa (Aspire Zone), which was unveiled in 2011. Far longer established is the Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel (Al Corniche Street), a landmark building on the Corniche waterfront, while a well-rated option for non-luxury travellers is the three-star Kingsgate Hotel Doha (Ali Bin Abdallah Old Ghanim).