Not long ago, Qatar and its capital city of Doha were best known internationally as the location of the headquarters of the United States military's operations in the Middle East. That changed overnight when Doha surprised many by winning the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The city has joined its neighbor, Dubai, as an intriguing destination for tourists the world over.
Al Corniche and Parks
One of the most popular attractions in Doha is the six-mile long Corniche, a waterfront walkway that offers beautiful views of the water and the glistening city skyline. The Corniche is popular among runners, bikers and walkers, and offers tea and coffee shops, as well as conveniently located cultural attractions. Other parks include Rumeila Park, with its re-creation of a traditional Qatari hamlet; Dahl Al Hammam Park, which is full of limestone caves; and the Doha Zoo.
Doha's Museum of Islamic Art (mia.org.qa/) is one of the world's most renowned museums of its kind. Composed of striking architecture that infuses traditional Islamic aesthetics with modernity, the museum is conveniently located close to the Corniche. Islamic art uniquely eschews recreation of human form, instead focusing on pattern, color and shape. Other museums include the Museum of Orientalists, a collection of European visions of the Middle East, and the Sheikh Faisal Collection, an eclectic private collection including great works of Islamic art, archaeological artifacts and a rare collection of early automobiles.
Qatar is both a coastal nation and a desert nation. While its present seems firmly planted in the ultra-modern city of Doha, its past owes much to the desert that surrounds the city. Safaris offer visitors a chance to experience the blistering sun and beautiful sweeping dunes of Qatar's desert. Many tours include the Khor al Adaid (inland sea) as a destination. The inland sea is an almost totally undeveloped area, with unique flora and fauna and opportunities for swimming and recreation.
Modern Doha is, at its heart, a capitalist culture. Experience both high-end modern shopping in City Center Doha and the thrill of bargaining in a vibrant, traditional Arab market in the Souq Wagif. In the Souq, different days feature different types of goods, and you can find a huge variety of items, including carpets, incense, local honey, art and even hunting falcons. The wealthier traveler might consider visiting the Gold Souq, a dazzling market of a huge variety of jewelry.
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