The capital city of Qatar offers plenty of photography opportunities. Whether you enjoy cityscapes, street photography, good food, unbroken blue skies, summer heat or mind bending architecture – there’s something here for you.
Qatar is a conservative, Islamic country. Having said that, Qatar adheres to the customary Arabic tradition of hospitality. Guests to the country should be respectful of the local culture, but non-muslims are welcome.
There are a few do’s and don’t’s for the uninitiated, but I find politeness and a respectful attitude is the key.
Old and New
Qatar is a young country and has undergone massive development in a very short timescale. A modern city has risen from the desert in little more than a single generation.
Qatar fuses this vibrant growth with its heritage, something which is typified by Souk Wakif. Located on the footprint of the original souk, Souk Wakif is a modern recreation of a traditional souk, full of small shops selling anything and everything. As night falls, the atmosphere becomes more intimate as people emerge to throng through the many restaurants and shisha cafes.
Camel racing is a huge industry in Qatar. One way to sample the scale and excitement of this ancient practice is to visit the camel racing track early in the morning. Hundreds of camels and their riders ride out and you can get a close up feel for the sport.
Riders in racers used to be small boys, but in recent years the boys have been replaced by robots that sit on the back of the camel. The robots are controlled remotely by their owner who rides along beside the camel as it races along the track.
Gambling is not allowed under Islam, so this is strictly about the glory and prestige of winning.
Modern Doha is a true architect’s playground.
There are towers of glass and steel, buildings shaped like gift boxes, crescents and lop-sided lego bricks.
Two of the greatest designs house Qatar’s best museums: the Museum of Islamic Art and the Qatar National Museum, which is built to resemble the desert rose crystal formation.
The summer months, particularly June to early November can be tough. Temperatures are high (50 degrees centigrade are not unheard of) and humidity in these months is also high. For the rest of the year, the weather is pleasant. Dust storms can occur at any time of the year. The view from our balcony of an approaching storm is typical of this dramatic weather.
During the months of November through to February there can be rain, often heavy with thunder and lightning.
The usual pattern is for clear blue skies however and an ever present sun that sparkles on the green waters of the Arabian Gulf.
The desert is an interesting habitat to explore. To the south of the country, huge dunes spill down to the sea and are spectacular. You can drive through them to the Island Sea (Khor al-Adaid) which is a narrow inlet that forms a lagoon standing between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
This southerly desert contrasts with the glaring white rock and sand to the west which is flatter and has no dunes at all.
Qatar loves shopping. The malls are extraordinary buildings that are often lavishly finished with marble floors and grand architectural finishes. Some resemble palaces and others great Italian plazas including a replica of Venice replete with canals and gondolas.
The supermarkets include Carrefour, Monoprix, MegaMart and Lulu. Each comes fully stocked with goods from around the world.
In recent years Qatar has invested heavily in indigenous agriculture and is now self-sufficient in dairy, poultry and some vegetables.
The Iconic Corniche
Running along in front of West Bay’s glittering spires and towers lies the Corniche. It is a six lane highway that runs through central Doha beside the warm waters of the Gulf.
A pedestrian route snakes along side the sea wall and is a great place to walk early on a morning or as the sun sets.