Qatar Travel Itineraries: Cultural depths

Qatar Travel Itineraries: Cultural depths

A tailor-made itinerary to share with travel clients seeking ancient Arabian charm and modernity in Qatar

World-class museums, avant-garde art, arresting architecture and historical spaces reborn as creative hubs all contribute to Qatar’s buzzing cultural scene. With journeys back in time and installations offering a glimpse into the future, the city’s cultural landscape is vast, spanning themes and decades, engaging curious visitors in the story of Qatar.  

Explore Arabian art at Mathaf
With its name derived from the Arabic word for ‘museum’, Mathaf is home to one of the world’s largest collections of Arab-made art, providing a uniquely Arab perspective on the contemporary creative scene. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art welcomes visitors on an expedition through its permanent collection of more than 9,000 works, including paintings, sculpture and mixed media, while its exciting and ever-changing calendar of events features a range of immersive workshops, story sessions for kids, light shows, and exclusive exhibits for art buffs. Education City; 9am to 7pm daily, 


Get a culture hit at Katara
Katara Cultural Village, Qatar’s largest and most multidimensional cultural project, invites visitors to experience a range of different cultures. Home to theatres, concert halls, galleries, festivals and workshops, Katara strives to promote the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Qatar while embracing the future. Visit the Katara Mosque, designed by Turkey’s Zeynep Fadilloglu, believed to be the first female architect to specialise in mosques; discover the classical Greek-style amphitheatre; stroll down 21 High Street, a luxury shopping street complete with a powerful outdoor cooling system; check out Qatar Museum Gallery and independently-run Katara Art Centre (KAC), and channel your inner astronomer at Al Thuraya Planetarium. 9G6F+CR3, Doha; open 24 hours a day; 

Katara Cultural Village

Live like a local and stroll along the Corniche
Stretching for 7km along Doha Bay, Doha Corniche is a landmark destination. Packed with restaurants, clubs, parks and cultural attractions, the palm-fringed, pedestrianised boulevard also affords some of the most photogenic views of the city’s futuristic skyline. Serving as the location for pivotal events, including National Day and National Sports Day, the crescent-shaped strip is also where you’ll find the MIA – the Museum of Islamic Art – which preserves and presents historic works of Islamic art. Set out on a sunrise stroll, kick a ball in the park, hop onto a dhow or tuck into sumptuous seafood at a restaurant with a sparkling sea view. Doha Bay, Doha 

Doha Corniche

Get fired up by contemporary art at the Fire Station Museum
Having served as a fire station for more than 30 years, the Fire Station Museum has been given a second life as the city’s hippest art space. Showcasing exhibits, workshops, films and events, the raw, industrial space also serves to engage the local community and nurture emerging talent through its artist-in-residence programme. Witness how art and politics are intertwined in the five murals that comprise ‘100 days blockade’, before grabbing a healthy bite at Café #999 which serves wholesome dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Al Bidda Park; 9am to 7pm daily; 

Fire Station Museum

Get into the good books at Qatar National Library
With more than 800,000 books, plus 500,000 eBooks, newspapers and magazines on offer, the Qatar National Library is a logophile’s dream. With the design envisioned by world-renowned architect Rem Koolhaas, the building cannily resembles two pieces of paper that have been folded diagonally at the corners to create a shell-like structure, with a glass façade allowing plenty of light to stream in to create the perfect setting for reading. The library also hosts regular events that visitors can sign up for, ranging from workshops and talks to performances from the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. At its café, Safahat Coffee Bar & Bakehouse, you can curl up with a good read and one of their famous rainbow lattes. Education City, District of Freedom, Al Luqta St, Doha, Qatar; 8am to 8pm Saturday to Thursday, 4pm to 8pm Friday; 

Qatar National Library

Man the fort at Al Zubarah
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Al Zubarah fort offers an insight into Qatar’s history, serving as an example of a typical Arab stronghold made with traditional Qatari techniques. Built by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Qassim Al Thani 1938 on the ruins of an older castle that had been destroyed, and used by the Coast Guard as a station until the mid-1980s, it was then transformed into a museum to display findings uncovered in the nearby Al Zubarah archaeological area. Visitors will discover how the one-metre-thick walls not only strengthened the defensive capabilities of the fort but also helped to keep the rooms cool. Al Zubarah, approximately 105km northwest of Doha; admission is free; 8am to 6pm Sunday to Thursday; 

Al Zubarah Fort

Discover art in nature: East-West/West-East
When Richard Serra, one of the world’s most celebrated living sculptors was approached by Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the sister of Qatar's ruling Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to create East-West/West-East in the middle of the western Qatari desert, he jumped at the chance. A set of four standing steel plates rolled in Germany, shipped via Antwerp, and transported and craned into place, East-West/West-East is Serra’s second public commission in Qatar after his towering sculpture, 7, at Al Riwaq in Doha. The soaring, striking steel spectacle has unsurprisingly become one of Qatar’s most famous landmarks. Truly spellbinding. Brouq Nature Reserve, Qatar; 24 hours a day; 


Visit a mosque 
Poised on five large columns that represent the five pillars of Islam, each depicting a verse drawn from the Holy Quran, Education City Mosque has the capacity to accommodate 1,800 worshippers in its main prayer hall and another 1,000 in its exterior courtyard. Not only does it serve as a community mosque for the surrounding Al Rayyan area, but visitors of all backgrounds are also welcome to enter outside of prayer times, with the mosque offering engaging educational tours and playing host to a range of cultural events. Minaretein (Education City Mosque), Education City; 12pm to 11pm daily; +974 44546600;

Education City Mosque

Journey into the past
A must-visit for residents and tourists alike, the National Museum of Qatar is a stunning structure designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. Inspired by the intricate form of the desert rose, its surrounding parks are also pleasant, with a heritage garden featuring a selection of native Qatari plants and a children’s playground. Taking centre stage in the museum is Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani’s palace, the seat of the government in Qatar for 25 years. With its permanent collection spread across 11 galleries, the story of Qatar is brought to life through archaeology, art, sculptures, regional maps, ancient Qurans and vintage jewellery. Museum Park Street; 9am to 7pm daily; +974 4452 5555; 

National Museum of Qatar

Branch out for a unique photo opportunity at the QNCC
Even if you don’t have an event, exhibition or conference to attend at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC), it’s worth visiting just to stand back and admire the dramatic design. An architectural feat, the QNCC – the vision of Japanese architect Arata Isozaki – features magnificent, intertwined Sidra trees propping up the monumental exterior canopy. With the tree a beacon of learning and comfort in the desert, and a haven for poets and scholars, the structure stands as a symbol of knowledge. Conceived with a focus on sustainability, the centre was built according to US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) gold certification standards. It’s particularly photogenic after dark when electric light beams from beneath its ‘trunk’ to bask the building in an ethereal glow. Education City’ 6am to 11pm daily; +974 4470 7000; 

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