Qatar Museums (QM) has been actively restoring many of the old buildings in Qatar. So far these include: Al Wajba Castle, dating back to the famous battle when the Qataris defeated the Ottomans in 1893 under Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammad Al Thani; the Al Nejada Houses in one of old Doha’s streets date back more than 60 years and were built of traditional materials; and the houses at Al Mufair Village in Al Shamal were restored in 1988 to be used as a set for a Qatari television series. QM has a number of ongoing projects – visit qm.org.qa for details.
House of Nasser bin Abdullah Al Missned
Located in Al Khor and currently under restoration. The Father Amir, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s consort, HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser was born and raised in this house. Designed to look like a traditional Qatari private residence it was built in the second half of the 20th century by her father, the late Nasser bin Abdullah Al Missned. Qatari authorities are developing a master plan that will best preserve this site as a remembrance of Her Highness for future generations.
House of Sheikh Ghanim bin Abdulrahman Al Thani
Built by pearl merchant Majid bin Saed Al Saed at the beginning of the 20th century on the beach at Al Wakra, Sheikh Ghanim bin Abdulrahman Al Thani bought the house in 1960. Debis, a traditional date‑based food, was once produced, stored and later sold from the ground floor of the house. It was restored in 2004.
Wind Tower House
Before the introduction of electricity, the square wind tower, known as a badghir, provided an effective form of natural air‑conditioning. The last remaining building of its kind in Doha, the Wind Tower House, just off Grand Hamad Street in the former Najada Shopping Plaza, used to be an ethnographic museum. Built in the early 20th century and first restored in 1982, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture took the building over and made it a Gulf Architectural Heritage Centre. Although closed to the public, the Wind Tower House provides a unique photo opportunity.
The Old Palace at Doha
The Old Palace was originally built in the early 20th century by Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, today considered to be the father of modern Qatar. For approximately 25 years the palace was at the centre of Qatar’s political leadership, serving as the residence of the Royal Family and seat of government.
In 1975 the palace was converted into the Qatar National Museum, which included a Museum of the State, a lagoon and a very popular marine aquarium. In 1980 the building won the Agha Khan award for restoration and rehabilitation of Islamic architecture. The Old Palace is now fully restored and is at the heart of the new National Museum of Qatar. The latter has been designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel.
Katara Cultural Village
Katara is Qatar’s focal point for multi‑cultural activities, with concerts, festivals, and art and photography exhibitions throughout the year. Katara also hosts educational and religious events, charity bazaars. Katara is a beautiful collection of Arabian-style buildings, with alleyways protected from the sun with ‘swails’ (sail shading). There is a stunning mosaic‑covered mosques and bird‑feeders, and plenty of outlets offering snacks and al fresco dining. The Katara Opera House is home to the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and concerts are regularly held in the theatre and amphitheatre. There is also a beach and art galleries.
Opening times: Daily 24 hours – visitors should check first with individual restaurant, society or gallery
Admission: Free (except for beach activities)
Contact: Call Centre 182, katara.net
AL SHAQAB was established in 1992 to build on Qatar’s Arabian horse heritage and be a leading equine centre of excellence while providing an engaging experience for the community. Originally started as a stud farm, it has now developed into a multi-dimensional equestrian centre that not only breeds pure Arabian horses but also educates children on the art of horsemanship and equestrianism, as well as train riders and horses for long-distance endurance races. An equine veterinary medical centre has also opened.
In 2004, AL SHAQAB became a member of Qatar Foundation. AL SHAQAB’s impressive facilities, which are distinctively designed in the shape of a horseshoe, cover 980,000 sq m. With a state-of-the-art main arena comprising both an indoor and outdoor venue capable of holding over 5,000 spectators, AL SHAQAB is part of Qatar’s growing reputation on the world stage that showcases its ability to host major international sports events at the highest level.
Opening times: Sunday to Thursday 9 am – 3:30 pm. Al Shaqab also organises tours of its facilities for institutions and the general public to raise awareness on equestrian culture. Visit the website to register for tours which take place Sunday to Thursday at 7:30 am and 3:30 pm.
Contact: 4454 7361, alshaqab.com
Camels have been synonymous with this region since the Bedouin started using them for transportation, as well as for food and milk. The camel is still a prized animal – now this includes for entertainment purposes! A 30-minute drive west of Doha on the Dukhan road will take you to the camel racetrack in Al Shaihaniya, where you can see camels in one of the Middle East’s most popular sports. The racing season is from October to May, with several prestigious events held in March and April. Behind the racetrack is a ‘camel city’, where thousands of men and camels live all year round, increasing in numbers when there is a big event. Colourful camel trains can be seen, with traditionally-dressed riders and camels adorned with bright colours. Local tour companies may be able to arrange trips to coincide with races.
Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club (QREC)
The Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club (QREC) has been the centre of equestrian activity for generations. Horse racing is a popular sport in Qatar, with around 40 race meetings a year. See purebred Arabian and Thoroughbred horses in action when they take part in prestigious events such as the Amir’s Sword and the Qatar International Trophy races.
Opening times: Races are usually on Wednesday and Thursday 4 pm – 7:30 pm, October to April
Contact: 4419 7704, qrec.gov.qa
If you want to explore off-road, it is often easier and safer to go as part of an organised tour. Tour companies offer half and full days, including overnight camping trips to the Inland Sea. Heritage sites are popular destinations. Other ideas include:
• Activities, such as diving trips, deep‑sea fishing, sandboarding, and more.
• A boat cruise along Doha’s Corniche or out to Al Safliya Island.
• Local knowledge: an experienced guide will provide commentary while touring around the camel market, Doha’s Corniche, the dhow‑building yard, the falconry market, malls, parks, souqs and mosques (appropriate clothing required).
• A desert tour, with bedouin‑style camping at places like Khor Al Adaid and Bir Zekreet, including traditional cuisine and music, sand‑boarding and watersports.