Day 2. Exploring Doha, Qatar

We had slept like logs in our extremely comfortable bed and ignored the phone alarm at 7.00 a.m. preferring an extra hour in bed.  Finally raising the energy to get up I was brought back to life in the shower which probably had the largest monsoon head that I had ever seen and I lingered under the running water pampering myself with the luxurious complimentary toiletries.

Untitled
Being driven to breakfast in the hotel’s club car

Finally ready for our breakfast, we dialled 0 on our room phone and almost as soon as we had taken the lift downstairs a club car was waiting to drive us over to the Al Terrace restaurant at the Mirqab Hotel.  This was the furthest distance from our own hotel and it was so interesting to view the Souk in daylight as it was stirring to life.

Untitled
Breakfast on the terrace of the Mirqab Boutique Hotel

Breakfast is excluded from the Discover Qatar package but at QR 50 (£10.50) offers good value and ensures an excellent start to the day.  Guests can either dine indoors or out on the terrace where we decided to sit.

Untitled
Inside the hotel’s restaurant

A waiter served freshly squeezed juice and my apple, beetroot and carrot combination was so refreshing that I was soon requesting a second glass.  A chef was preparing hot dishes on the terrace and our omelettes were freshly prepared and cooked to perfection.  Popping indoors, we helped ourselves to bowls of fresh fruit, yoghurt and olives with our waiter keeping us supplied with our favourite cappuccinos.  Noticing waffles being delivered to another table we couldn’t resist ordering some for ourselves and these tasted divine spread with lashings of maple syrup.

Untitled
The hotel’s rooftop pool

Our huge breakfast had set us up nicely for a full day’s sightseeing and before taking the club car back to our hotel we took the lift to the top floor to take a look at the rooftop pool which looked very inviting.  Unlocking our room door we discovered that it had already been cleaned whilst we were eating breakfast.  After applying sun screen and taking bottled water from the fridge we were ready for a walk around the souq (standing market).

P1080197
The Camel Souq, Doha

Opposite the Musheireb Hotel lies the camel souk which was interesting but a bit smelly.  From there we explored the maze of narrow alleyways admiring brightly patterned rugs in the textile souk.

P1080213
Textile Souq, Doha

Around the next corner we found ourselves in the bird souk which also included adorable small rabbits.  As it was a Saturday, locals were out enjoying the second day of their weekend and the narrow streets were buzzing with activity.  We glanced inside the Islamic Arts Centre which was a luxurious arts and crafts gallery where we watched artisans working on their paintings and pottery.

Untitled
Islamic Cultural Centre, Doha

Leaving the souq we crossed some busy roads to take a look in the Islamic Cultural Centre, a place where one can learn about the Islamic faith.  Our morning stroll then took us along the Corniche (the 4 mile (7 km) seafront promenade) continuing all the way around the traditional dhow harbour which was filled with elaborate large dhows, some of which were having coats of varnish applied to their woodwork.

Untitled
The Pearl Monument, The Corniche, Doha

Qatar prides itself as the Pearl of the Gulf and we stopped to take photos of its huge pearl and oyster fountain which pays tribute to its pearl and diving industry.  From there we had splendid views across the water of the West Bay skyline with its huge skyscrapers.  Numerous dhow tour boats were moored along the quayside and we were continually being stopped and offered boat trips around the bay, the price decreasing each time we said we weren’t interested.

Untitled
Dhow Harbour, Doha

We were happy walking around and didn’t think we would see more from a short boat trip but if you might be interested to take one they seemed to average QR100 (£21) for two people.  Few other people were around but I presume lower rates could be negotiated for larger groups or if more people wanted to take a boat trip at the same time.

P1080237
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

On the south side of the corniche lies the Museum of Islamic Art.  It’s located in MIA Park on a man made island 60m from the shore, approached by a grand, palm-tree lined driveway.  The museum is shaped like a post-modern fortress designed to conserve energy.

Untitled
The palm tree lined entrance way to the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

Entrance to the museum is free and visitors are required to dress modestly.  Spread over three floors it contains one of the world’s greatest collections of Islamic Art including metalwork, ceramics, textiles, coins and glass.  After exploring some of the galleries we sat in the cafe awhile which has large windows overlooking the bay.  When we had finished sipping our drinks we stepped out onto the beautiful terrace and admired the stunning views.

Untitled
Entrance foyer and cafe, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
Untitled
Stunning architecture at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
P1080285
Standing beneath the archways of the Islamic Arts Centre, Doha

Leaving the museum we tried to book an Uber over to the Grand Mosque but as we were unable to connect to the Wi-Fi outside the museum we took a standard blue and turquoise metered taxi instead.  The driver advised us that it wouldn’t be more than QAR20 (£4.20) and was in fact only QAR14.60 (£3.20).  The Grand Mosque is located on Al Muhandiseen Street about a ten minute drive from the Museum of Islamic Art.

Untitled
Grand Mosque, Doha

This is the largest mosque in Qatar, completed in 2013 and boasts 90 domes, 18 entrances and a capacity for 30,000 people.  The interior is only accessible to Muslims but is well worth a visit to walk through its elaborate outer areas adorned with marble archways.  We had arrived just after prayers had finished and were allowed to peer into the main prayer room which was very grand with large marble pillars.  Photography is not permitted indoors so I am unable to let you see its beauty.

P1080299
Entrance gates to the Grand Mosque, Doha

After we had finished looking around the mosque we tried in vain to get a taxi so instead decided to walk over to the business district of West Bay.

P1080313
West Bay skyscrapers, Doha

This was actually much further than it looked but eventually we arrived.  Most of the buildings are government offices and after admiring the modern architecture we looked around the City Center Mall where we paused for a much needed rest and some cold drinks.  It was surprising to find a large ice rink on the ground floor of the mall surrounded by shops.

Untitled
The large ice rink in the City Center Mall, West Bay, Doha

We returned to our hotel at around 5.00 p.m. and had a rest before taking the club car over to the Arumaila Hotel at 7.45 p.m. as we had reserved places on the hotel’s complimentary walking tour around the souq.

P1080321
Carpet and rug shop in the Textile Souq

Whilst waiting for everyone to gather we were offered Arabic coffee and dates and when all nine guests were present we set off, making our first stop in the textile souq where we were shown some hand woven and mass produced rugs.

P1080330
Saying hello to one of the camels in the Camel Souq, Doha

Moving on, our next stop was at the camel souk where our guide actually led us into the pen so that we could get up close to the camels who were now wearing coats to keep them warm.

Untitled
Arabian horses in the Royal Stables, Souq Waqif, Doha

Our tour continued on the theme of animals with a visit to the Royal Stables where we saw some Arabian horses.  We learnt that these animals are taken to the Royal Palace early each morning.

P1080345
Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital, Doha

From the stables it was just a short walk over to the Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital and Medical Museum.  It was explained that falcons are such prized possessions in Qatar that every small village has its own falcon hospital.  Adjacent to the hospital we visited a falconry centre where birds could be purchased and taken for training, it was all very interesting.

Untitled
Falcons for sale in the Falcon Souq

Next, we were taken to a small community centre where we were served hot drinks and offered cake.

P1080354
Enjoying refreshments with the walking group in the Community Centre, Doha

In a larger building nearby we watched some local men playing the board game Dama which is a traditional Qatari strategy game having similarities to Chess and Draughts.  We discovered that Dama has been played in the region since ancient times holding a special place in Qatar’s local culture and history.

Untitled
Qatari men enjoying a game of Dama in Souq Waqif, Doha

Whilst there, we were by chance introduced to the Qatari minister for Culture and Sport and he suggested a group photo of us all as souvenirs of our visit.  We thought that this was particularly apt given that Qatar are hosting the football World Cup in 2022.

P1080361
Members of our walking tour with the Qatari Minister for Culture and Sport (in the black robes)

Our walking tour then ended at the Spice Souq where huge sacks of brightly coloured spices were piled high leaving a fragrant aroma in the air.

Untitled
Souq Waqif, Doha

Our tour ended at 9.40 p.m. and had been so interesting as we were taken to so many places that we wouldn’t have otherwise gone to and we learnt so much about the Qatari culture and way of life.  If you plan to take the Discover Qatar Stopover Programme and choose to stay in the authentic Souq Waqif, I highly recommend taking this free tour run by the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel.

We then enjoyed a late evening meal on the terrace of an Iraqi restaurant.  Here we shared chicken biryani and lamb kebabs served with vegetables, rice and a basket of flatbread.  The large portions were subtly spiced and tasted delicious – a perfect end to such a memorable day exploring beautiful Doha.

If you have enjoyed reading this post, you may also be interested in:

A Short Stopover in Dubai

35 thoughts on “Day 2. Exploring Doha, Qatar

  1. jasonlikestotravel

    Looks like you had a great time, topped off by the tour. The stopover programme looks interesting, particularly how cheap the accommodation is for it. I’m hoping I’ll fly over that way somewhere in 2020 so perhaps I’ll consider a stop in Doha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. jasonlikestotravel

        That’s good to hear. A World Cup is definitely on the bucketlist but I’d say 2026 is probably more likely. With that said I seriously regret not going to 2014’s and I only heard good things about Russia in 2018 so was disappointed to miss that too. So maybe 2022 is a possibility.

        Lazy weekend planned, hope you’re having a good weekend too. Yes! Not long now until she’s here 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting Jo. Doha is very different to Dubai which is all glitz and ultra modern. I really liked Doha especially in the Souq Waqif and meeting with the local people who were very friendly and polite, and would return without hesitation.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In terms of cost for that amazing resort hotel, what was it per night? The hotel looked amazing, not sure I would want to leave from the resort to go sight-seeing. Also for the things in the souk such as carpets and so on, how much were they in GBP to give me an idea thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The hotel was part of the Discover Qatar Stopover Program and you can follow the link on my blog post for further details and prices. I have no idea about the costs of the carpets as we didn’t intend buying any but they were of very good quality.

      Like

    1. Thanks Jonno for taking an interest in this post. We’d travelled Qatar Airways twice before but it was the first time that we’d taken advantage of the airline’s stopover programme. We absolutely loved Doha, so much history, so clean and very safe. Can’t wait to book another stopover there! Hope you have a good weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. We’ve only done the same between flights and I must admit it seemed like a huge shopping centre. I know lots of people love it but it’s not really our type of place. Prefer old and historic.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. It did seem as though we had been transported into a fairytale world. Everywhere was spotlessly clean and it felt perfectly safe wandering around on our own. The local Qatari people were all extremely polite and friendly and what I liked most was that when we explored the souks, the stallholders left us to look around without pressurising us to buy something. I’d love to return sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi! Yet another country to strike off your list…Everywhere looked spotless! Are you set on travelling for a year or a specific time?. Do you have a break in between countries? All most interesting, and addictive I should imagine Enjoy while you’re young. Ours are more armchair-bound now, but we have lovely memories to please us and, sometimes, write about. Be safe. Best wishes. Joy x.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Joy, Doha is a very safe, and as you noted, spotless city and one I would be happy to return to at any time. As you realise we enjoy travelling but are not away all the time, though it perhaps seems like it from my travel writing. This particular trip continuing on to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore was a little more than two weeks long. It’s so nice to read your comments again and to learn that you still enjoy my posts. Take care, Marion

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.