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Sunday, May 5, 2013

14 hours in Qatar

Or, Things to Do in Doha City
Souq Wakif (Picture: Rigveda)
Please bookmark this post, and use it whenever Qatar airways dumps you in Doha because you miss a connecting flight. You're welcome.

Here's is what wiki travel says about the city we found ourselves in this Monday, en route to Tanzania - "Doha has a reputation for not being the most exciting place on earth". But not to despair. We hired a car for four hours and did a speed round of Doha tourism - mostly on the recommendation of the concierge desk at the Movenpick hotel. Here's my opinion of what we saw:
  1.  The Pearl-Qatar. This is an artificial island, known for uber rich people who live here and for the luxury brand stores. Given that Rigveda and I were walking around in track pants and chappals, not sure why he brought us here. My rating: 1/5
  2. Katara. An upmarket mixture of Haveli and Dilli haat, has some interesting photography exhibitions, stamp collections and very overpriced food. They have some performances once in a while, but there was nothing on when we visited. I give it a 1/5.
  3. Villagio Mall. Once I've told you that the Villagio is built like an Italian street, and has an artificial canal with gondolas running through it, you know everything worth knowing about the mall. Also, the roof is made to resemble a monsoon sky, which leads me to suspect that the makers of Culture Gully (Kingdom of Dreams) may have copied the ceiling design. As malls go, the ones in Delhi have more stuff, I have to admit. My rating: 2/5, and that too because of the canal and the gondolas.
  4. Museum of Islamic Art. Now we're talking. I so wish we had ignored the well-meaning advice of locals and headed straight to this. Built over 3 floors, it has some amazing pieces and some delightful stories. They have exhibitions too - we were lucky enough to see the Ferozkoh collection from Afghanistan that on display this month and the next. It blew my mind. I wish we had more time here. My rating: 4.5/5
  5. Souq Wakif. Great place to experience the local culture, and to buy spices. There's a section that sells birds and animals - very colorful, but also very disturbing. 3.5/5
  6. Al Corniche. The waterfront promenade where locals walk/jog/bicycle on. Lovely views of the sea and the skyline. 4.5/5
Al Corniche (Picture: Rigveda)
To sum up, if you have half a day in Doha, I recommend the following:
  • Politely say no to your concierge's suggestions and take a cab straight to the Souq Wakif. Please spend some time here, buy some stuff.
  • Cross the road to reach the Museum of Islamic Art where I suggest you spend hours and hours. 
  • If you still have time left, start walking on the Al Corniche which starts right outside the Museum, and walk till you you run out time and/or energy. 
Again, you're welcome.

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