A view of the Doha cityscape between a series of pillars, surrounded by water features on either side

One city, five ways: Doha

With its futuristic skyline and ambitious plans for the future, you could be mistaken for thinking that Qatar’s capital of Doha is just another Middle East boom town. But this ever-changing city has been welcoming travellers to its shores for hundreds of years. In today’s Doha you can find a thriving food scene, avant-garde art exhibitions, cosy coffee houses and more than a touch of luxe

A small boat anchored nearby the Museum of Islamic Art

The art lover

The centrepiece of Doha’s burgeoning arts scene is the unmissable Museum of Islamic Art. The IM Pei designed building houses artefacts – pottery, carpets, jewellery and more – that span a millennia. Don’t miss the museum’s underrated library, home to an eclectic collection of rare books from around the globe. The Firestation Gallery – occupying buildings that were once home to the city’s fire brigade – has become a hub for local artists. Its gallery spaces host local and international exhibits and the Café #999 is a haven for writers and those seeking solace from the city. Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art showcases art from Iraq, North Africa and Egypt as well as Qatari artists – challenging as well as eye-opening.

Camels wearing colourful knitted muzzles

The family traveller

Qatar’s family-centric culture means the youngest travellers in your party are treated like royalty. Souq Waqif, home of the city’s traditional market, really is the beating heart of the city when it comes to life every evening. With dozens of winding alleyways housing stores piled high with exotic spices, nuts and traditional Qatari clothing, it’s a cultural playground. Falconry is a revered sport in Qatar and visitors can pass by the Falcon Souq where they can learn about these incredible creatures – some of which are sold for more than QR1 million – and hold the birds, too. Be sure to visit the Falcon Hospital next door to see the incredible work they do. Doha is surrounded by desert and just an hour away is the natural wonder of the Inland Sea – a place all ages can enjoy thanks to its pristine beach, rollicking motor sports (quad biking, dune bashing) and even the odd camel ride. Make a stop by Gelato for unique iced treats to go.

Light streams in through the windows at Mosaic

The gourmand

You can dine around the world in one day without leaving the city limits of Doha thanks to its multicultural, well-travelled population and collective love of food. It’s hard to surpass IDAM by Alain Ducasse, where Executive Chef Damien Leroux’s eclectic menu draws on local produce such as desert truffles and camel meat. Epicures on the hunt for local flavours head to the edge of Souq Waqif, just minutes from Mandarin Oriental, Doha, to experience a taste of Qatari home cooking at Shay al Shamous. The wafer-thin ragag bread served with fillings including farmer’s cheese and local honey is a must-order. With seven kitchens and a menu spanning the silk route including Indian, Chinese and Arabic cuisines, Mosaic has already attracted the attention of the food brigade (the truffle siu mai dumplings are as dreamy as they are earthy). Veganistas flock to the homegrown Evergreen Organics for Vegan Gansta burgers, tropical smoothies and Instagrammable interiors, while caffeine fiends can be found at one of Flat White’s four locations, people watching and enjoying their cold brew.

Luxury apartments line the circular waterfront promenade of the Pearl-Qatar

The luxe lover

The Pearl-Qatar is a series of connected manmade islands housing luxury apartments alongside high-end boutiques, cafés and restaurants. There are even water taxis and tuk-tuks on hand to ferry you and your shopping around when you get footsore. For a taste of Europe, the imposing marble masterpiece Al Hazm Mall is home to bespoke parfumiers selling the distinctive Arabian oud fragrances, and boutiques offering designer abayas (traditional robes worn by Qatari women). For something beyond the malls try glamping with a twist. Book an overnight desert adventure, complete with a BBQ dinner and dune bashing, before retiring to your own Arabian nights-style air-conditioned tent for the night. Take indulgent respite in the marble-clad wellness spaces at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Doha.

Views of the Doha city skyline at night from the water

The business traveller

Doha’s business and government hub – West Bay – is just 20 minutes from Hamad International Airport and 10 minutes from Mandarin Oriental, Doha. Take your meeting out of the boardroom to the iconic Tornado Tower where there are a growing number of eateries and cafés, including the fun Maison De Sushi, where you can indulge in freshly made plates of sushi and steaming hot noodles. The eight-km long Doha Corniche is the perfect antidote to jet lag, with its running and walking tracks, exercise equipment and free Wi-Fi charging stations (pro tip – free Wi-Fi abounds in Doha). For business lunches or deal-making nightcaps, head to effortlessly stylish Ambar.

Mandarin Oriental Doha
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Mandarin Oriental Doha

Barahat Msheireb Street, Msheireb Downtown Doha , Doha PO Box 23643,, Qatar

+974 4008 8888

A flock of birds near Doha's Islamic Cultural Center at sunrise

Your essential guide to Doha

Mandarin Oriental, Doha is located in Msheireb Downtown, where the Qatari capital’s pearl-fishing past meets its vibrant, fast-growing present. Find out where to eat, what to see and where to go in the city