Qatar: small travel guide to discover the country

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Skyscrapers, artificial islands and a very high level of security mix with the sandy desert of Qatarone of the few whose dunes descend to the sea of Persian Gulf. The city of Dohacapital of the state, is trying to combine its futuristic and ultra-innovative side with aspects of the tradition and history of the country, which boasts its roots in a fishing population of pearls. The destiny of Qatar changes when in 1939 the British discover the petrolium below the surface. Ten years later, the first extraction. At that moment the evolution of a country that today boasts the title of safest in the world. The warm, rainless weather of April makes it a suitable destination for a holiday during the Easter holidaysin which to combine visits to the city, the beaches just outside the perimeter of Doha and excursions in the desert.

Art and culture: what to see in Doha

Qatar National Museum

Designed by French architect Jean Nouvelis the main museum of the city and its shape recalls a desert Rose, the rock formations created by the wind in the sand. In a space of over 40,000 square meters, the entire history and vicissitudes of the country are retraced, from pearl fishing to famine, up to war and the discovery of oil. The museum welcomes its viewers with the artwork Motherlanda sculpture that recalls the shape of a typical mask of Qatari women, the beater, to recall the female role in society, still marginal but evolving, despite the Muslim religion still partially conservative in the country.

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Qatar National Museum

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Souq Waqif

The souq it is the more traditional part of Doha, interrupting the skyline of the city’s skyscrapers. Unfortunately there is nothing really ancient left. In 2004 the market, which also recalls in its new traits the medina of Marrakech, completely burned down due to a fire, and then rebuilt on the basis of the original structure. In this maze of streets, smells and colours, there are shops of all kinds: food, decorative, clothing and religious material.

Souq Waqif


If the souq represents the city’s link with tradition, the district of Msheireb it is meant to symbolize the incredible study of innovation and sustainability that Qatar boasts. It is a totally self-sustainable area of ​​the city, redeveloped in 2010 by the mother of theemir current, Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned. In a city full of cars and large isolated skyscrapers, the will of the philanthropist was to readapt the neighborhood to community life, creating an almost entirely pedestrian area equipped with all services. Everything is studied in detail to make the most of it: the shape of the streets to channel the wind, the narrow streets to protect themselves from the sun, and an incredibly modern underground system to facilitate the management of laundry and garbage services. Like a little one underground city.

The Msheireb district

The Pearl

How do you imagine a city in between Beverly Hills And Venice? Doha, in the neighborhood The Pearl, tried to recreate the mood of the two cities in one place. Colored houses, water channels like streets, small bridges and palm trees that frame the most residential area of ​​the city. A very Western imprint reminiscent of a film set.

The Pearl district

The desert, the root of Qatar

The inhabitants of Qatar, who have by now become accustomed to living in large perfectly functional residential buildings, like to reiterate that their roots, in reality, are found in the desert. The visceral bond that the citizens of Doha have with the expanse of sand leads them to go to the desert as soon as they have a free momentdespite being slightly away from the city.

The Qatar desert overlooks the Persian Gulf


To get to the dunes you have to go quite a bit into the sand, until you can no longer see the lights and factories of Doha. From that point on the desert is breathtaking. The expanses of Qatar are among the few in the world that reach the sea, creating an incredible scenario. On the outskirts of the desert, numerous agencies organize tours to cross the dunes. It can be done dunebashing with the jeep or, for a more sustainable experience, «rent» a camel.

Camel racing

Where to eat

The restaurant Bayt Sharq it is located in the historic home of a pearl shipping leader. Nestled in the courtyard of the house, it recreates a sort of oasis amidst the barren terrain of the Doha suburbs. At the table you can also taste them Lebanese specialties, representing 30% of Qatar’s culinary traditions. As the Tabbouleh, a salad made with bulgur, finely chopped parsley, vegetables and aromatic herbs. Also try thebeetroot and almond hummuswith a bright color and a delicate flavour.

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The surprising story of this place, immersed in one of the areas of the Doha souq, is striking. Shams she was a housekeeper, who took care only of the family. When her husband retired for retirement, she decided to start a business with her own home-made produce spices. With the first 500 ryal she managed to buy one stall to participate in a fair with its products. Little by little the business grew, until it was given a space in the souq which was immediately very successful. Given the very long line outside the shop, Shams started serving coffee to customers, until it became what it is today: the breakfast place Shay Al Shomoos. Here he serves typical Qatari dishes for the first meal of the day a extremely popular prices. An example is the Reqaqa paper-thin crusty bread made with wholemeal flour and filled with sweet and savory toppings.

jiwan is located within the Qatar National Museum, on the top floor of the desert rose-shaped building. With a beautiful view of the city, it takes its name from the fortune of Qatar before oil: the pearl. Even the walls bear the name of the venue, with long beaded curtains and mother-of-pearl furnishings. Jiwan offers a contemporary interpretation of the country’s cuisine: traditional flavors are transported in a modern aesthetic. In the menu a fish course and a meat course coexist: a barracuda with black cabbage and coconut followed bylamb accompanied by jam and typical rice.

The terrace of the Jiwan restaurant

Victor BELLOT 1995

Al Sufra it is located inside the hotel Marsa Malaz Kempinski, located on a private island in the heart of The Pearl in Doha. Their strong point is wanting to create the perfect fusion between Arab and European elegance. Al Sufra specifically offers recipes and flavors from Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, Jordan and Palestine and is perfect for a informal lunch. L’hotel also offers tourists the possibility of organizing cooking class with the restaurant staff, who teach the preparation and steps of a traditional Arab menu.

Hotel Marsa Malaz Kempinski

If you are visiting Doha but still craving a italian dishthe right compromise is Deli Kitchenthe starred chef’s restaurant Pino Lavarra. In the local of him, one of the gastronomic choices inside the At the Messila Resort & Spathe chef reworks Italian and Qatari dishes in a new vision of taste and first-hand ingredients.

The starred chef Pino Lavarra

South China Morning Post/Getty Images

To change tastes and flavors for an evening in Doha there is Coyaa very famous chain present in numerous five-star hotels that offers dishes of Kitchen Latin American. The experimentation of the menus is at its best: traditional Peruvian dishes cooked using Japanese, Chinese and Spanish cooking techniques.


Where to sleep

The W Doha it was Qatar’s first luxury hotel and is located in the heart of West Bay. The design is very reminiscent of the contemporaneity of New York skyscrapers, combined with the colors and Arab energy of Qatar. For those who want to overdo it, the hotel also offers a «extreme suite», a bedroom of over 300 square meters with a private cocktail bar. But the strong points of W Doha I’m there Kitchen and the life nocturnal. The five-star hotel houses two restaurants managed by the chef three Michelin stars Jean-Georges Vongerichten: Market by Jean-Georges and it Spice Market. Going up the floors you arrive at the wahma nightlife venue with cocktails and hookahs.

W Doha, West Bay

Recently born in the Qatari desert, the residence Sealine was built on the spot where the sand reaches the sea. 58 luxurious villas equipped with modern services immersed in the wildest nature. There is also a restaurant there, which offers one of the most typical preparations of the desert, born from the tradition of the Bedouins. A deep one is dug hole in the sandinto which a metal pot is lowered with a lamb whole and a side of vegetables (aubergines, cauliflower and carrots usually). The meat is stewed for hours thanks to the heat of the ground during the day and only extracted late in the evening, to obtain a very soft texture. To try.

If luxury isn’t your thing and you want to choose something different from the big skyscrapers of Doha, Heenat Salma Farm it is a good solution. It’s about a farm inside a green oasis in the desert, precisely in Shahaniya, north-west of the capital. A young team has transformed this land into a completely organic cultivation of plants and vegetables, right in the middle of the desert, which has always been hostile to this type of agriculture. In addition to hosting courses and professional training, you can stay here in beautiful surroundings curtains ad hoc furnished. A glamping set up in a bucolic and perfectly sustainable space. On site you can cook with your own hands everything that the cultivated fields offer.

Heenat Salma Farm

Heenat Salma Farm

Source: Vanity Fair

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