The locals’ guide to Doha

Explore the hidden depths of Qatar’s capital with our insider tips from those in the know

 

EPICUREAN ENCOUNTERS

Take your taste buds on a tour of foodie blogger Rachel Morris‘  top culinary highlights

Where’s your go-to place to eat?

Elements at the Four Seasons Hotel Doha – it’s rare for a hotel restaurant to have interesting food, genuine atmosphere and great service but this one combines all three. It’s great for date nights or gatherings with friends.

And for breakfast?

Try Shay Al Shoomos in Souq Waqif. It’s run by a Qatari lady who serves traditional dishes like balaleet (sweet vermicelli noodles and eggs) plus the usual omelettes.

Which local dishes are a must-try?

Machboos is the most famous – lamb, goat or camel meat sprinkled with rose water and lemon juice, and served with spiced rice. I’m also a fan of saloona, a mildly spicy vegetable or seafood stew. To finish, you have to have luqaimat – a yeasty sweet dumpling soaked in honey or date syrup.

What’s trending food-wise in Doha at the moment?

Chinese and Japanese-style dumplings – dim sum, yum cha… They’re everywhere and generally excellent.

The hottest foodie area in town?

Doha is so spread out that it’s hard to pinpoint one area, but for sheer concentration of options, you can’t beat West Bay. It’s got all the hotel restaurants plus some smaller, independent eateries. There’s a growing contingent of celebrity chefs, too: Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the W, Gordon Ramsay at The St. Regis Doha and Alain Ducasse at the Museum of Islamic Art.

Where should we go for a stylish dinner?

Nobu. It’s the most spectacular location in the city, with its own island and rooftop bar. The food is exceptional, too.

What’s the city’s best-kept foodie secret?

Literally a hole in the wall in Fereej Bin Mahmoud called Al Jamal. They cook whatever is good from the market that day – it’s always packed and hard to find, but so worth it.

Museum of Islamic Art
Museum of Islamic Art

ART IN THE CITY

From landmark museums to vibrant souqs, Khalid Yousef Al Ibrahim, Chief strategic planning officer, Qatar Museums, talks us through Doha’s cultural must-dos

What’s the city’s most exciting cultural aspect?

The great thing about Qatar is that it has a huge variety of cultural offerings; it’s a world-class destination for culture with so many experiences to discover. Certainly one of the most iconic, though, is the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). Designed by IM Pei, it houses one of the world’s greatest collections of Islamic art spanning 1,400 years.

Where should we head next?

Wander through the adjacent park and gaze at the city skyline. Then take the free bus to Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, which houses the largest permanent collection of modern and contemporary art in the region. Finally,  stroll the energetic alleys of Souq Waqif for an authentic taste of traditional commerce and architecture.

Is there anything that surprises visitors, culturally?

Art and culture are all around you here. We focus on creating easily accessible cultural experiences outside of our museums – in parks, at universities, at the airport, in hospitals and even in the desert. Collectively, art has a powerful and ambient presence in the city, which I think some people may not expect.

Where can we discover up-and-coming local artists?

Qatar Museums’ artist-in-residence programme at the renovated Fire Station building is hugely important for celebrating local talent and gives young artists a platform to grow, exhibit and collaborate.

Any off-the-beaten-track places we should seek out?

For a historical experience, visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, a coastal town approximately 100km northwest of Doha.

Which event should we bookmark for 2017?

In collaboration with the Musée Picasso and the Fondation Giacometti, next month we’re hosting the first exhibition dedicated to Picasso and Giacometti in the Middle East.

STYLE FILES

Sofia Graniello takes time out from her beauty editor role at Qatar’s fashion title, Ohlala, to share the capital’s most stylish secrets

What’s your go-to Doha shopping destination?

The pharmacies. I’m an absolute beauty junkie and, gladly, the pharmacies here offer great beauty and skincare lines. Most of them are French products that aren’t available worldwide, so having them in Qatar is the cherry on top. My favourite place for beauty finds is Fitwell, a local shop in Al Markhiya. Here you’ll find the best and longest-lasting products for a decent price. 

What about fashion?

There is one place I adore for its uniqueness. It’s called Fifi’s Attic and carries the most amazing vintage pieces. From the doors to the windows, everything is vintage and imported from Europe, with something of a bohemian twist.

Any local designers we should know about?

Sarah Wanas. She designs gorgeous gowns and her style is right up my street. I was lucky enough to photograph her latest campaign. You can find her @wanasofficial – fashion in Doha is all about networking and social media, but the Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition is always a smart choice for finding new design talent.

What’s the street style like in Doha?

At the moment our street style is still developing, but you can find trendy types sporting daring pieces and bold colours – which is always a breath of fresh air.

Where should we go to see and be seen?

Evergreen Organics. It’s a vegan café, juice bar and all-round health-inspired community. It’s popular with yoga lovers, healthy eaters, bloggers and media influencers.

What would you recommend buying as a souvenir?

I always stay away from tacky souvenirs, and whenever I send a memento to a special someone, I tend to choose a scent. They are strong and bold, making them risky to gift, but they are so engraved into Doha’s culture that buying a small tube can be quite special and unique. 

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