Journal #12 - Qatar
Hala from Qatar!
We are thrilled to be in Qatar. This stunning country is a beautiful mix of its old traditional Arabian roots with the glamor of the new. We timed our visit such that we arrived after the completion of the World Cup but were thrilled to see many of the decorations still up. There were statues across the city painted in different patterns for you to pose with to celebrate Qatar 2022, along with welcome signs lining the roads with the many faces of the mascot of the game, La’eeb. We felt welcomed and our time here was relaxing, beautiful, and everything we hoped it would be.
The sight you cannot miss is definitely the harbor. With the old part of town on one side and the mountain of skyscrapers on the other, the view from either side gives you a completely different flavor. We began our experience on the older side of the water. We visited the souqs and spent time strolling through different vendors (including the gold souq to the iconic falcon souq). These marketplaces were clean and well-kept. Each stall is packed to the brim with everything you could want, including animals. We saw plenty of house pets, small critters, birds, and large mammals, like camels. Styled architecturally in the traditional style, you feel like you are taking a step back in time while walking through these streets. One thing that we appreciated was that these vendors were not pushy. They might ask you once if you were interested in something, especially if you stopped/paused and looked at an item, but otherwise, they let you be. The whole experience was calm and enjoyable.
Some of the sights we visited included museums inside and open-air. For starters, we toured the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). Designed by I.M. Pei, the building is set overlooking the water and takes full advantage of its location. The glittering reflection plays against the symmetrical ceiling and the windows making this a lovely place to sit and enjoy the moment. Plus, the exhibits were detailed, well thought out, and laid out nicely. We saw everything without feeling like we needed to rush or blow through any spot in particular. For a mix between the souqs and the museum, we visited the open-air Katara Cultural Village. Built as a center for culture and art, it opened in 2010. We loved walking through the stalls and symmetrical architecture. There is a mosaiced mosque and an amphitheater that I wish we could have seen a show in.
The newer and more modern parts of the city are in the downtown area, characterized by its iconic skyline. We could see where it would be a joy to make a life here. While not as large as its Emirati counterparts, Doha had plenty for you to see and do and would be worth the visit, especially if you are in the region. The other new part of the city is called The Pearl. This neighborhood is a wealthy part of the town filled with stunning waterfront homes and several delicious restaurants. It was here that we were first introduced to Karak tea. Chai’s sweeter, Arabian cousin. We split a whole pot just the two of us and would continue to do so several times throughout our visit.
The last thing I will add is that the dress code here, for women, was also relatively relaxed; however, I made sure to have my ankles and wrists covered to blend with the average person. The only place my wardrobe was intently scrutinized was while visiting a mosque, which makes sense. Mr. Wanderer did not have the same level of attention paid to his clothes, but we also just packed our bags with appropriate options, and then it was no extra hassle. Additionally, I carried a scarf around with me that could be tied over my hair should we stumble upon a sight that would require such.
Overall, we are thrilled to have gotten to visit Doha and would love to come back again, even if just to spend an afternoon sipping Karak tea overlooking the harbor at The Pearl. But alas we must move on. Our bags are packed because next we are heading to two countries. The first has the world’s highest-value currency. The second used to be the pearl capital of the world. Any guesses where we are off to next?