Doha Qatar may surprise you.
For a place that seems like it has nothing to do, there is plenty to do in this sprawling city in the desert.
On first glance, I saw homes, homes and more homes in Doha. Add in some commerce. A dash of mosques. Plus aggressive infrastructure expansion due to the upcoming World Cup. I saw some potential there.
But after doing a 1 month long house sit at a villa in Doha I figured it out; there are plenty of things to do and see in this fascinating city located on the Persian Gulf.
If you are heading to Doha soon here are 4 things to do.
1: Spend a Day at the Villaggio Mall
Inside of a mall.
But toss in a full-sized skating rink, an amusement park with a ferris wheel and go kart track, Venice style canals with guys who boat you around on gondolas, and an epic-sized Carrefour and you have one of the more fascinating malls on earth.
Why create a seeming entertainment center inside of a mall?
Temperatures reach 130 F plus in Qatar during summer months. Toss in humid conditions – onshore flow from the Persian Gulf – and you have a veritable sauna for a few months each year.
During the warmest summer months you cannot do anything outside. Too hot.
Enter malls like The Villaggio.
We often schlepped over to this bad boy to grab goods at Carrefour or to simply marvel at the wonderfully weird feel of the place.
2: Visit The Pearl
Opulence out the ying yang.
Super cars gracing the roads, revving engines and plowing down the strip with savage ferocity.
The Pearl is a man-made marvel sitting in the Persian Gulf that will make you believe Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne got together in a prosperity pissing match, whipping ’em out to see who’s winning.
I visited this island with Kelli on my birthday. Brilliant time.
We strolled the waterfront, soaking up peaceful views, enjoying yachts and watching Qatari go about their business.
3: Walk the Corniche
The Corniche is a stunning waterfront commerce spot nestled on the beautifully serene Persian Gulf.
Walk the area for views of towering, sleek buildings and the adjoining shimmering waters of the gulf.
Getting to the Corniche by car is the way to go. As is usually the case for navigating this commuter city. Kelli and I Ubered to the area but mistakenly decided to walk the last few miles for cardio.
The distance was easy. But crossing the highway beside the Corniche took us about 20 minutes. You literally do not have 2 seconds of break time to dart between vehicles. Finally, a spot opened and we sprinted across the street like Usain Bolt on Crystal Meth.
Workout machines dot the waterfront to keep waistlines in check. Big bucks = big food = health problems. But the government is taking decisive steps to address health issues in Doha and Qatar in general.
4: Stroll the Souq Waqif
Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Arc) type setting.
The Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar is a blast from the past.
Quite unlike any other area in a modern, ever-expanding city, this authentic Middle Eastern market transports you back a few centuries. Falconry, commerce, haggling, strange smells, old buildings and tight alleyways greet visitors to the souq.
We walked around for a few hours before settling into lunch at a restaurant inside one of the hotels by the market.
I also spotted a tiny police car. Perfect for chasing crooks down impossibly narrow alleys.