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Blick auf Doha, Bild: Zenobillis / shutterstock

Qatar and the capital Doha


The Emirate of Qatar is likely to have become a household name for most people, especially through the many discussions surrounding the 2022 World Cup. While the country itself can hardly be found on a map – actually it is only a small tip of the Arabian Peninsula – the emirate has developed into a global player in recent years. This can be seen not only in the fact that more and more major events are being held, but also in the development of the capital Doha, which is now attracting attention with impressive sights of modernity. What is worth visiting the emirate and what should you pay attention to when travelling?

Qatar’s history from a small emirate to a global player

Like all countries in the region, Qatar was created by the final collapse of the Ottoman Empire and subsequent control by the British. In 1971, it refused to join the United Arab Emirates and preferred to become independent, with its own borders and control. The fact that they could simply afford it was of course due to the valuable resources that they had found in their own national borders in the meantime. Qatar is rich not only in oil, but also in natural gas and thus plays an important role as an exporter to the entire world and is able to raise appropriate financial resources for the development of its own economy.

While contact with its immediate neighbours and the other countries of the Arab world was rather difficult, Qatar was one of the first oil states to discover that diversification of its own economy would be necessary, as the oil would eventually no longer be there. Accordingly, the company has been expanding strongly in all relevant industries for many years. Tourism plays the biggest role in Qatar’s plans, and Doha competes with Dubai when it comes to the reputation of the most exciting metropolis in the Western world. In fact, Doha is still more of an insider tip, while Dubai is developing into a destination for mass tourism.

The must-see sights of Qatar

Countdown Clock World Cup Qatar
The countdown clock to the World Cup in Qatar, Image: HasanZaidi / shutterstock

In general, a trip to Qatar is always a trip to Doha. The emirate has little to offer beyond the sights in the capital and over 90 percent of the state’s population can be found in the big city. One of the peculiarities is that there are only a few hundred thousand Qataris – most people in Doha are guest workers or foreigners who are here for certain projects and would not call the country their home. However, this does not mean that the development of recent years has not brought with it some interesting cultural peculiarities.

Doha is above all a city of views. The imposing skyscrapers that rise throughout the city are not only a sign of Qatar’s economic strength, but also include some of the best hotels in the world. With the numerous observation decks, you have a great view of the skyline, especially at night, or you can take your time for the sunset and enjoy it from some of the tallest houses in the city.

Galleria Lafayette at Katara Cultural Village
Galleria Lafayette in the Katara Cultural Village, Image: HasanZaidi / shutterstock

The fact that Doha is trying to combine modernity with the historical Arab world can be found as evidence in the various parts of the city. The Katara Cultural Village is probably one of the best examples of this. In the historical style, the former construction method in this region of the world is recalled. The buildings are decorated with works of art by Arab artists. Whether it’s a look at the amphitheatre, the planetarium or an extended trip for shopping – all this is possible without any problems in the new cultural district of Doha.

The absolute must-see on a walk through Doha is the new Museum of Islamic Art. Even from the outside, the hotel gives an idea of the passion that has gone into the construction here. Inside, some of the most impressive works of art in the Islamic world and some interesting exhibitions about the importance of art in the desert state are gathered. Art lovers in particular will get their money’s worth here for a few hours and it is a pleasant change from one or the other shopping trip in the heat in the well-cooled building.

Luxury, shopping and nightlife in the Qatari metropolis

When visiting Doha, it is inevitable that you will quickly notice that everything is new here – even if the builders make an effort to make one or the other building look historic. The crowning glory of this architecture is certainly the “The Pearl” district, which was built over the area where the Qataris once dived for pearls. Luxury brands from all over the world have settled here and the replica Venice is without question an eye-catcher.

If you want to discover Doha in a more down-to-earth way, you should definitely visit the markets such as Souq Waqif. Both day and night, life in the metropolis of Doha takes place here. Over a good coffee, you can watch locals and tourists and get an insight into how the Arab metropolis behaves after nightfall. This is probably the closest you can get to the real and unposed culture of the country.