Arts/Culture: Places: You Asked: Doha
You Asked: Doha
You Asked: We are traveling to Doha next month: what would you recommend we see and do while there? Also, do you have any restaurant recommendations?
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Doha is fast becoming an arts destination in the Middle East, so top of your list should be the I.M. Pei designed Museum of Islamic Art (974-422 4444), which opened in December 2008. It showcases two centuries of artwork from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India and beyond—the largest collection of Islamic art in the world. The 41,000-square-foot structure takes inspiration from a Middle Eastern fortress and is positioned on its own purpose-built island at the southern tip of the city. The museum will house temporary exhibitions, permanent collections plus a learning center.
Alternatively, you can see more Islamic relics in a contrasting setting at the Qatar National Museum (974-444-2191). Located in a restored palace built around a lagoon on the Corniche, an attractive waterfront area of the city, the museum showcases turn-of-the-century décor as it would have originally appeared.
While you’re there it is worth exploring the Corniche, which many consider to be the most picturesque part of Doha. A popular destination for joggers, this part of the city along Doha Bay has a seven-kilometer coastline promenade and is home to luxury hotels, parks and important civil and cultural buildings. We can also help arrange a desert safari in the southern Qatari dunes in a 4WD vehicle, with a stop at a traditional Bedouin camp for lunch.
Note: Private guides can be arranged for city tours, including museums.
WHERE TO SHOP
For retail therapy there is the enormous city center mall, which boasts two ice-skating rinks (one for women only), a movie theater, a water park, a bowling alley, over 350 shops and many dining options. Or for a more authentic shopping experience head to Souq Waqif. The traditional Middle Eastern bazaar is a maze of stalls along narrow passageways where locals, sheiks and tourists alike congregate in the tucked away restaurants. Isfahan Restaurant is a popular choice serving Iranian food on traditional majlis-style cushions.
WHERE TO EAT
Strict laws mean many of the restaurants and bars are limited to international hotel chains, luxury malls and private clubs. The Four Seasons’ Il Teatro (974-494-8888, www.fourseasons.com) lures locals and travelers with its elegant setting and excellent cuisine. Although it serves Italian rather than local dishes, it is a top choice amongst the business crowd for hosting important clients. La Mer at the Ritz Carlton (974-484-8000, www.ritzcarlton.com) is repeatedly named amongst the city’s best dining options and serves modern French cuisine; it also has an adjacent wine bar. Another place recommended by a local ex-pat is Al Sharq Village & Spa, which is run by the Ritz-Carlton and opened in 2006. It has four restaurants (as well as hotel) and a very good Six Senses spa (managed by the visionary hoteliers behind Soneva Fushi and Soneva Gili in the Maldives, and the recently opened Six Senses Destination Spa on Phuket). There are four restaurants including the Al Wanis Shisha Terrace, serving oriental cuisine in your own private oversized canopied booth, Al Liwan, which offers traditional dishes from lamb ouzzi to samak harra and Al Dana with an open seafood kitchen and sushi counter. Or nearby, the Sky View Bar on the 15th floor of the trendy La Cigale hotel (974-428-8888, www.lacigalehotel.com) has a popular outdoor lounge. For Lebanese food in a chic waterfront setting, Al Mourjan (974-483-8000; www.almourjanrest.com) is a popular choice. There is no alcohol but the thick Turkish coffee and sweet shisha are satisfying alternatives. Finally, newest on the block and sure to make an impression is Spice Market (974-453-5353; www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels), in the recently opened W Hotel. The latest venture from Michelin starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the menu is a mix of South East Asian street cuisine and regional flavors served in an intimate ‘family-style’ dining room.