I'm thinking of heading to Doha next week with my family for the weekend. What are the important cultural sights and sites? Can you recommend a couple of quality hotels close to the Corniche?
Wherever you go in Doha, you'll never be far from the 8km-long Corniche - most of the city's cultural and leisure attractions centre on it.
Start at the Museum of Islamic Art (www.mia.org.qa; 00 974 4422 4444), at the south end of Doha's bay. The large cube, designed by I M Pei, the Chinese-American architect, is full of treasures from the Arab world, as well as Europe and Asia. The museum now has a 27-hectare public park, which opened last year, offering cultural and recreational activities.
About a half-hour's drive away is Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art (www.mathaf.org.qa; 00 974 4402 8855; entrance is Qatari 25 riyals [Dh25.2] per person; children under 16 enter gratis). The museums hosts exhibitions from all over the world, and also has a cafe and well-stocked library.
Souq Waqif ("the standing market") is located close to the Corniche and the perfect place for an afternoon of browsing and shopping. The traditional-style market sells everything under the sun: spices, wool, oud and frankincense. The art centre in the old part of the souq has art galleries and shops, as well as restaurants and shisha cafes. In the cooler months, the souq hosts concerts.
On the edge of the market is Hotel Souq Waqif (www.hotelsouqwaqif.com.qa; 00 974 4443 3030), a boutique residence with two suites and 11 Arab-themed rooms, costing from Dh807 per night.
The Corniche lies within walking distance of other top hotels such as the W Doha (www.whoteldoha.com; 00 974 4453 5000) and the InterContinental (www.ichotelsgroup.com; 00 974 4484 4444). The former is a chic tower; its spacious double rooms cost from 1,059 riyals (Dh1,068) per night. The InterContinental, with rooms from 935 riyals (Dh943) per night, offers slightly more affordable accommodation and a decent stretch of private beach.
Rumeila Park, opposite the Corniche, is easily the city's most popular meeting ground, with an outdoor theatre, art gallery and water features. For a glimpse of local culture, visit Heritage Village next door, where local women work on traditional Khaleeji handicrafts in a majlis-style open area (7am to 1.30pm; free guided tour and entrance). With complimentary Wi-Fi and plenty of parking available, it's an excellent place to spend an evening.
If you plan to go next week, stop by the Doha Exhibition Centre for a taste of the city's third annual Taste and Fun Food Festival (it runs from February 8 to 11). Scores of food stalls, headed by chefs from top restaurants all over the country, will showcase all kinds of cuisines, with dishes costing from 5 riyals to 15 riyals (Dh5.2 to Dh15.2) per plate.
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