My recent trip to Qatar was dotted with natural wonder, stimulating architecture and unique cultural experiences – learning of the regions pearl diving beginnings, enjoying middle eastern delicacies, and visiting a desert that hugs the ocean for the first time. I spent four nights in Doha, each day a new adventure awaited. If you’re planning a winter escape to Europe, a stopover in Doha might be just the trick for your jet lag so you can hit the Parisian streets running.
Breakfast at the Four Seasons hotel in Doha – incredible Persian delights and fruits I don’t usually have access to at home in Sydney. Right – the opulent architecture at Lusail city.
Admiring a closer look at Jean Nouvel’s work and entering the desert resort Sealine Camp.
Reclined at sunset.
Visiting spice shops in the Souq Waqif where I purchased the sweetest tasting Figs I’ve ever had. Right – visiting Katara cultural village.
As an avid bird watcher a highlight for me was visiting the birds nearby the Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital – the birds that are celebrated as a reminder of the cultural history of the region and a symbol of courage.
Seeing the city by boat at dusk on a Dhow boat – the vessel that drove Qatar’s economy in the centuries before oil and gas production – these were used predominantly for pearl diving and fishing.
Meeting a local journalist who was documenting nightlife in the Souq – she had some questions for the shop owner and my host Amir so they recorded some content together.
Enjoying the dunes in Khor Al Adaid desert – and the view from kayaking across the harbour.
The nuts and spices of the Souq – many imported from Iran and Turkey - incredible produce.
Sunrise and sunset from my hotel room – the colours were so rich, it’s always interesting having jet lag in a foreign city and watching the city wake up.
A sculpture of a battoulah mask sitting in the National Museum, and more of the architecture at the Place Vendôme shopping mall.
Along the shoreline at the Katara cultural village.
The dunes and my wonderful host Amir.
My host’s cousin Tariq who was an expert at dune driving – no small feat. I have never experienced anything like it – drifting down 50 metre sand dunes in a Toyota Landcruiser.
A highlight of my time in Qatar – visiting the Khor Al Adaid desert an hour out of the city centre of Doha. This ocean lake formed in the middle of the dunes we drove across at sunset. Being one of the only deserts in the world that meets the sea; the endless, fine sand sitting against the salty blue horizon felt like an other- worldly encounter, neighbouring a barren desert.
Some highlights from inside the National Museum – a beautiful installation celebrating the countries history in pearl diving, and an interactive artwork by one of my favourite artists Pipilotti Rist commissioned by the Gallery.
The view from Regency Sealine Camp where we had dinner under the stars.
Venice inspired sights at the Qanat Quartier in the Pearl-Qatar.
Dinner at Parisia in Souq Waqif, where the food was as impressive as the interiors – consisting of hand painted Persian artworks and ornate walls covered in thousands of tiny mirrors hand-picked from Iran over many years. Right – Looking over the water to the Museum of Islamic Art.
Shopping (or, window shopping) at the Place Vendôme mall in Lusail city – a place to visit if you’re in transit and interested in a shopping destination on your journey to or from Europe. If you had your eye on something in Paris, they’re likely to have it in stock here, at one of the 580+ luxury stores nestled within the beautifully designed mall. The people watching is a moment in itself. You can also visit Galerie Lafayette around the corner for a French fix too.
Making friends in the afternoon sun at the Corniche (and wanting to know if I can pick up one of these cool jumpsuits too).
Left – I first saw German artist Isa Genzken’s work at the Fondation Louis Vuitton outside Paris so was thrilled to stumble across a rose sculpture from the same body of work in a yet to be opened art space, close by to the Park Hyatt where I was staying. Right – sunset on the Persian Gulf after a swim was magical, and the sea so salty, it lifted me up and I could sail away with ease – cue Enya.
Views from the Islamic Museum of Art and my room at the Park Hyatt.
Some of the architecture I loved throughout the city – the stained glass windows were so impressive.
Feature image: Visiting the National Museum in Doha designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.