January 30, 2017

Take a Stroll by the Sea in Doha, Qatar

by Maja Topčagić

Qatar is a beautiful Islamic country in the Middle East bordered by Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Only open to tourists since 1989, the capital city of Doha is one of the most magnificent places to visit. The mosques, museums, waterside roads and huge desert dunes attract sightseers from all over the world.

The sights, sounds and flavours in Doha

In Doha, you mustn’t miss the Souq Waqif old market. It was my favourite place to shoot photographs. It’s a beautiful place where your senses will be treated to lingering spices, steaming sauces, perfume oils, textured textiles, traditional garments and handcrafted keepsakes. The sounds are also beautiful—every now and then you can hear a prayer drifting past from a close-by mosque.

Souq Waqif was completely rebuilt almost a decade ago, but it has been so artfully restored, you would never guess it was recently destroyed in a fire. You can see and feel the history mixed with the modern, old and new juxtaposed in photograph. It’s really lovely.

What makes Souq Waqif so unique and intriguing is what you may find once you wander deep inside its narrow alleys. It’s always a surprise with each turn you take. When the city was built, many were fishermen and they traversed these alleys selling pearls they had extracted from the sea. You can still buy pearls at Souq Waqif today.

"One of the things I loved most about Doha is that I felt completely safe, always."

Like every big city, there is the old and the new. The new town favouring tall skyscrapers and fancy lights against a more minimal but ancient feeling experience in old town. The view of the new town skyline from the Corniche in old town at night is totally surreal, almost like watching a movie or video game.

Something special about Doha

One of the things I loved most about Doha is that I felt completely safe, always. You can walk through the streets in the middle of the night and take in the scenery without any kind of worry or distraction. One night we were walking back to the hotel from a club at around 3 AM, and children were playing on the playground, without adult supervision. I thought, “How strange!” And if you go to the markets in the old town, all the shops are closed with only a tiny curtain pulled across while they go to pray or have lunch. They don’t lock anything and nothing is stolen. My friend forgot her bag with all her equipment in the middle of a shopping centre and came back hours later, finding it in the exact same place. I just find that so amazing.

Beating the heat

The biggest challenge I faced while in Qatar was the heat. I had a lot of trouble trying to adjust to having no trees or fresh, cool breeze outside. And the heat really drained my energy so I felt like I was constantly tired. The temperature in the winter is about 25°C, and it’s bearable but in the summer, it’s closer to 50°C! And they really love the air conditioning. In every shopping centre or market, the temperature is around 17°C. If you go outside from 17°C to 45°C, you can get a stroke ?.  I’m sure the locals are used to the climate, but it was quite a shift and pretty challenging for me.

Favourite place in Qatar...

My favorite part is definitely the old town of Katara. The largest and the most multidimensional cultural project of Qatar, Katara is the art epicentre of the country with theatres, concert halls, exhibition galleries and beautiful architecture. It is positively resplendent with traditional design. Every little thing is decorated – the doors, windows, floor, benches, and even shafts, in their ornate and detailed style. While we were there, my friends and I received kana tattoos, similar to henna, which last for 2 weeks to a month. It is pure art, and a total masterpiece is painted in just a matter of minutes. If you’d like to go out on the water, you can take a tour from coast to coast via sailboat. It is truly an amazing experience.

What Should Visitors See When They Travel There?

Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif was once a weekend trading area for the Bedouin. Meaning “standing market”, the market takes you on a journey back in time to ancient Arabic tradition and culture.

The Pearl Island

The Pearl in Doha is a manmade island spanning nearly 4000km. It was dubbed “The Pearl” because the island is located above one of the city’s largest sights for pearl diving. Once completed, the island is set to resemble a string of pearls like a necklace.

Katara Mosque

Katara mosque is not the largest or most impressive mosque at a first glance but at a closer look, the colour, tiles and attention to detail in the design make it incredibly unique.

The Golden Mosque

Being one of the richest countries in the world, it’s no surprise that Qatar has a mosque built from tiles of gold. A spectacular sight to take in, it is a must for its sheer lavish opulence and beauty.

The Corniche

The corniche is a curved concrete walkway lined by palm trees on one side and the Arabian sea on the other. It is a great place to go for a stroll and feel the warm breeze in your hair while taking in the sights.

The Museum Of Islamic Art

The Museum of Islamic Art is a modern example of Arabic architecture, designed and constructed with the influence of both American and Chinese architects. There is a huge collection of Arabic, Persian and African Muslim world art.

More images from this collection >

Bosnia and Herzegovina native Maja Topčagić began taking photos at 19 when she was gifted her first camera, forever changing her life. She often imagines moments from her dreams frozen and captured by the camera and looks at the world through the lens of a computer science mathematician merging those elements with art and soul. Her motto is, “If you dream about it long enough, it will come true.” Check out Maja’s full collection >>

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