Qatar For Free!
Who says Doha is expensive? Check out these great activities that are guaranteed not to break the bank
The Corniche: Known as the most beautiful corniche in the region – by Qatar residents anyway! – you can run, jog, cycle or just walk its length whilst taking in the great views. Although utilised year round, it’s in the cooler months when the corniche is really at its best and busiest. If you’re early enough, you might even be lucky enough to buy some fish from the local fisherman hauling in the first catch of the day.
Souq Waqif: You might feel like you are walking around the set of an Indiana Jones film but Souq Waqif has been lovingly restored and added to over the years to ultimately offer a little Qatari paradise full of knick-knack shops and shisa joints. But given, we’re on a budget here, just meander through the winding backstreets and haggle for the sheer fun of it.
The Museum of Islamic Art:
Hard to believe maybe but it’s true… Qatar’s iconic, world-renowned museum is free! Yes, you read right, it costs nada, not a single riyal, so go and check out the amazing exhibitions that this I.M. Pei-designed building is home to.
Duning at the Inland Sea:
There’s nothing as exhilarating – ok, terrifying but in a good way – as getting in your 4x4 and hitting the sand dunes at a variety of speeds and angles as you make your way to one of Qatar’s most beautiful natural hot spots. Little tip? Make sure you go in convoy and make sure at least one of you has a tow rope.
Wakra Port: It may not be particularly pretty when you first drive into Qatar’s ‘other city’ Wakra, but dig a little deeper and head down to the port and feel like you’ve been transported back to the Middle East circa 1960 when oil and gas were yet to be discovered and pearl fishing was how people made a living. Stop and have a chat with the fishermen, they are never too busy to tell you about their latest adventure.
Fuwarit Beach: Qatar has a number of beautiful beaches but none quite so idyllic as Fuwarit. 50 minutes north of Doha and just past Al Khor, it’s worth the drive. Long stretches of white sand are perfect for setting up camp for the day or overnight if you’re brave enough. Whip out the BBQ, throw on some burgers, stick on some sausages and chill out in the blue sea until their ready to tuck into.
Community Courses at VCU:
Education City’s Virginis Commonwealth University offers a number of community courses throughout the year from drawing and painting to writing and fashion design. Just sign up online.
Camel Racing: It may be stereotypical (think Middle East: think camels), but the truth is that you can have so much fun watching these big clumsy-looking animals pick up some pace as they charge around the racetrack. You’ll spot the drivers following closely alongside as seated inside are the trainers who mechanically control the little 1ft high robot jockeys that sit astride the camel’s humps. Whilst betting isn’t allowed in Qatar, it’s enough of a thrill just watching.
Mosque Visi: There’s nowhere better to soak up some of the local culture than at one of the country’s numerous mosques (although ladies are only welcome to enter a handful). As well as FANAR’s organised tours of its mosque at the Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre, visiting the State Mosque of Qatar – officially known as Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque – is a must-see. The biggest mosque in the country, it is also the most striking sitting perched above West Bay in all its glory. The inside is pretty impressive too – just don’t forget the strict dress code and cover up.
Katara, The Cultural Village:
Katara is where Qatari culture is truly preserved. This one is a bit of a cheat as while you can visit the beautiful stretch of beach, check out the stunning architecture and wander around the lovingly constructed amphitheatre all for free, the truth is you might not be able to resist parting with your precious riyals when you discover the choice of divine eateries on offer. Think real homemade Italian ice-cream, the best Indian food in Doha and red velvet cupcakes all available to enjoy in a stunning location. Ah well, some things are worth it!