We made a pit stop in Doha, Qatar on our way back from Africa. Qatar Airways has very good connections from Asia to the different African countries. We had two days to explore the city. Of particular interest is the Museum of Islamic Art, designed by I.M. Pei, located on an artificial peninsula off the Corniche in Doha and surrounded by the crescent shaped 290,000 m² MIA park. This is one of the first museums in the Middle East to feature over 14 centuries of Islamic Art collected from 3 continents. The architecture of the building is enough to warrant a visit. The side wings lead to fountains where the arches of water perfectly frame the Doha skyline. I.M. Pei was coaxed out of retirement at 91 years old and he travelled for six months throughout the Middle East to draw inspiration for his design. If you only have time to visit one place in Doha, this should be it.
Museum of Islamic Art
From the Museum of Islamic Art, you can walk along the Doha Corniche, a waterfront promenade stretching 7 km along the bay of Doha, all the way to the Sheraton Hotel on the other end. Many restaurants and cafes dot the Corniche as well as an open-air fish market and exercise equipment.
Another place of interest in Doha is Souq Waqif. Souq Waqif is a souq that has been in operation since the 1750s and revamped in 2006. People have been coming here for hundreds of years to buy spices, dates, handicrafts, and jewellery. It is probably one of the last remaining traditional marketplaces in the Gulf. The souq is a maze of small streets lined with shops divided into different areas selling different things like the Falcon Souq, Gold Souq, and Spice Souq etc. You can even buy an Arabian horse here! There are numerous restaurants and shisha bars here where locals and tourists come especially in the evenings to hang out. Most of the shops here do close between noon and 4pm but the restaurants are open all day. Of particular interest is the Falcon Souq where you will see men coming with their boys to purchase falcons and other accessories. Falcons are very important to Qatari men. There are annual competitions and prized falcons can cost as much as a million dollars! I was told that Qatar Airways allows falcons on board in their own seats next to their master.
Souq Waqif in the evening
Want to purchase an Arabian horse at Souq Waqif?
Boy with his falcon outside the Falcon Hospital
Amiri Diwan or Government Offices
We also managed to make a quick visit to the Abdul Wahhab Mosque or State Grand Mosque. This mosque is one of the largest mosques in Qatar built using a mix of traditional Arabic and modern architecture.
Until the next trip everybody! Stay tuned!
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