Tourism in Qatar brings together modern and traditional styles in its architectural designs which visitors to Qatar can see in the old markets, museums, skyscrapers, unrivalled sports venues, hotels and malls. All these reflect Qatar’s cultural movement, rich in local identity and open to the cultures of the world.
Qatar is an inspiring land of peace, security and authentic Arabic hospitality that gives a visitor an unforgettable experience.
In the midst of this development and modernisation, cities in Qatar combine ancient past and fascinating present, as visitors who stay in one of the skyscrapers can enjoy visiting the remains of ancient villages and castles in the Qatari towns and contemplate some of its Arab-Qatari-Islamic architecture without forgetting the pleasure of the popular markets, which the state is making great efforts to maintain, as they tells important chapters of the history of Qatar in architecture, art, commerce and old life in general.
Qatar enjoys a rich cultural diversity that gives the visitor a unique experience.
The communities in the country from different nations add more cultural variety, reflecting the depth of communication and openness to different cultures.
In addition to this amazing cultural diversity, museums and archaeological sites in the country add another dimension to tourism.
Qatar Museums actively and effectively enrich cultural tourism and focus heavily on engaging the local community and foreign visitors to enter the world of cultural life by providing self-guided tours to them and offering visitors a personal journey through the museums and galleries of Qatar museums and heritage sites.
For example, historical sites gives a historical view of the past of Qatar and the region in general.
Sitting on the coast of northern Qatar is Zubarah, an ancient town located 100km from Doha. It is one of the most important historical landmarks in the State of Qatar that includes also an archaeological fort that is itself a landmark that tells the history of the city.
Zubarah was once a flourishing port bustling with fishermen and merchants, and was one of the largest trade points in the region, particularly for pearl trade. The area was registered in 2009 as a protected area.
In 2013, the World Heritage Committee inscribed the Zubarah Archaeological Site into the Unesco World Heritage List.
The site includes three major features, the largest of which are the archaeological remains of the town, dating back to the 1760s.
Connected to it is the settlement of Qal’at Murair, which was fortified to protect the city’s inland wells. Zubarah Fort was built in 1938 and is the youngest, most prominent feature at the site.
Built in the heart of the desert 110km northwest of Doha is the Rakayat Fort, dates back to the 19th century. A freshwater well sits in the fort and the scattered remains of a village can be found nearby.
Rakayat is the Arabic word for ‘well’ and it is believed that the fort was built to protect the essential sources of water in the area.
It is a typical of desert forts, with three rectangular towers and one cylindrical one.
Three sides of the central courtyard are aligned with narrow rooms without windows and doors that open onto the light and spacious courtyard.
There are other ancient forts on the north-western coast of Qatar that can also be visited in Freiha, Ruwayda, Yousufiya, Bir Hussain, Thaqab and Zikrit.
On the eastern coast, there are forts at Al Huwaila, Zarqa and Athba, and in the areas surrounding Doha, at Al Koot, Umm Salal Mohamed and Al Wajbah, Qatar’s oldest fort.
The popular markets in Qatar, Doha’s Souq Waqif and Wakrah’s Souq Waqif provide an unforgettable experience.
They have been restored to preserve historical monuments, and to form spaces for citizens, residents and visitors, but with the taste of Qatar’s history and culture.
Doha’s Souq Waqif, with its winding stone-paved corridors, and its various restaurants offering dishes from the East and the West, becomes a centre for special souvenirs, or for lovers of carpets and Bedouin textiles, Arab coffee pots, incense burners, traditional copper tools, jewelled jewellery boxes, miniature models for sailboats and artisan crafts.
It is also an art square that hosts musical festivals in different seasons of the year, like Souq Waqif Spring, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha festivals and other musical festivals by the Arab artists, as well as various bouquets of heritage and entertainment activities for families.
Wakrah, located south of the capital, has its own Souq Waqif traditional market.
There is also an old market in Doha known as the Omani market, containing traditional, and agricultural products such as dates and herbs treated for livestock and others.
Museums in Qatar are another tourist attraction, and another destination for visitors looking for the past.
The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha contains collections and masterpieces belonging to different communities, collected from the houses of princes, kings and ordinary people.
Although the pieces in the Museum’s collections are primarily related to Islam, many of them reflect patterns of art.
The museum not only impresses with its possessions, but also its building, designed by the famous architect I M Pei, visually different offering in Qatar .
The museum features a variety of cultural events and exhibitions throughout the year.
Activities outside the main building extend to the adjacent garden, which is a social venue with activities all year round, including film shows, sports activities, art workshops and other events.
The collection of ‘Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art’ is a unique survey of 20th and 21st century modern and contemporary art from the Arab World, the Middle East, and wider geographies of Africa, Asia and Europe that are historically connected to Qatar and the Arab Peninsula.
Sports in Qatar have a museum which is Qatar Olympic and Sport Museum, that undoubtedly embodies Qatar’s relationship to sport.
Even before its opening, the museum has begun organising temporary exhibitions that present sport in a cultural spirit.
The museum is expected to be a widely recognised national and international centre for sports history, heritage and knowledge, promoting and encouraging academic research.
Qatar’s Orientalist Museum is the only institution of its kind. It is dedicated to Orientalism — an influential period in art history, based around Western artists’ first experiences and impressions of the ‘oriental’ East.
All these museums and others reflect the new concept and goal pursued by Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), which is to be a cultural catalyst for a new generation of creators through cultural activities and international art exhibitions.
The Fire Station Artist in Residence sits at the heart of Doha’s flourishing art community. It provides the perfect springboard for creativity.
In addition to these cultural monuments and archaeological sites, there is the Cultural Village Foundation – Katara with its unique location on the banks of the Gulf and its unique design that imitates old neighbourhoods. It always hosts cultural and artistic activities. Since the year 150 AD, ‘Katara’ was the first and most ancient name designated for Qatar Peninsula in geographic and historical maps.
Years ago, Qatar attracted the world by organising the top sports events, and hosting many major tournaments, such as tennis, squash and rally competitions