Qatar is a tiny peninsular Arab nation in the Arabian Gulf bordering Saudi Arabia. Most of the country resides in the capital city of Doha. The economy is nearly 75% based on petrol and natural gas, making this small country the world’s richest nation (GDP per capita).
Over two million people call Qatar home, yet only 20% of the population are Qataris, with a huge population of foreign workers. Qatar has been selected to host the 2022 World Cup, the first in the Arab world. This has resulted in construction projects throughout Doha.
New Doha, known for exotic skyscrapers that rival Dubai, is an extremely modern city built entirely on reclaimed land in 2000. Doha is a regional hub and a common layover with Qatar Airlines. There is an excellent city tour available for those passing through offered by Discover Qatar. Read on to learn more about the Doha city tour.
Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.
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Important Things to Know When Visiting Doha
Visa to Qatar
Visa on arrival is available for countries in the E.U., the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and South Korea. All other countries are required to get a visa before arrival. See more visa information here.
Best Time to Visit Doha
Visiting Qatar is best in the winter months between November and February. Days can still get hot with cool evenings, but the weather is very manageable. Temperatures in the summer average over 100° F (+40°C), making visits during this time very unpleasant.
The Qatari Riyal is the national currency in Qatar. It is pegged to the USD at $1 = 3.64 QR. ATMs are widely available at the airport and around Doha.
Doha City Tour
Are you flying with Qatar Airlines and have at least a six-hour layover in Doha? Take their Doha city tour! The tour lasts just under three hours and stops at the four below locations. There is a free one-day visa and the tour is first come, first serve, but you can also book your tour online up to 48 hours before your arrival time. There are six tours each day that leave at 8am, 10:30 am, 3pm, 6 pm, 8pm, and 9:30 pm.
Check-in starts two hours before the scheduled tour. The check-in location is at the Discover Qatar Transit Tours desk in Concourse A towards Gate A4. The city tour is on a 46-passenger bus and has short stops for a quick visit to Doha. At the time of writing, the Doha city tour was offered for free to promote Doha tourism. Nowadays, the tour costs 75 QR ($21 USD).
1. Museum of Islāmic Art
The first stop is next to the Museum of Islāmic Art. This building is an iconic building on the Doha corniche designed by the famous architect I. M. Pei. While there is not enough time to visit the museum, there is a photo opportunity of the building as well as a panoramic view of New Doha. This stop is for five minutes.
2. Katara Cultural Village
Opened in 2010, most cultural attractions for the city, such as open-air concerts, theatre, opera, or other events, occur in Katara. While this part of the city is becoming more popular, it is still mostly under construction until 2018. This stop is for 20 minutes.
3. The Pearl
The Pearl of Doha is a mini-Dubai-like pearl-shaped island with high-end shops, restaurants, and a marina. This is also the first place in Qatar that allows foreigners to own property. This stop is for 15 minutes.
4. Souq Waqif
Souq Waqif, the largest in Qatar, is a traditional market that is predominately a tourist destination. While it is not used by Qataris today, there remains an authentic feel and look to this market that is over 100 years old. This stop is for 45 minutes.
- A small bottle of water for each person
- Stops include an opportunity for a restroom breaks
- Timelines are strict to get everyone back to the airport
- English-speaking guides led the tour and offer historical context as well as information while riding on the bus between stops