Doha: A City in Transition

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

With the news that the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani had handed over power to his son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Qatar has found itself within a period of transition. Yet it's capital Doha has amidst a change which has developed it over the past decade from a dot on the map to a globally influential city.

Just over ten years ago Angie was finishing her two year stint studying her A levels at Doha College. She left a city full of sleepy suburbs and crazy drivers.

Whilst the crazy drivers are just a little less crazy the city's landscape has altered dramatically with a skyline to rival Hong Kong. With construction sites all over the city Doha is definitely a work in progress.

The newly constructed buildings in the West Bay Area house the world's embassies along with a World Trade Center and the Qatar Olympic Committee Headquarters highlighting the country's ambitions in the commercial and sporting arenas.

As a holiday destination Qatar has much to improve on before it hosts the FIFA World Cup Finals in 2022 as we found out in a recent visit to Doha.

Doha's Al Corniche - From the Sheraton to the Museum of Islamic Art

Starting out at the pyramid shaped Sheraton Hotel, which has seen the city grow around it, we walked along Al Corniche, a road that follows the curvature of the crescent shaped bay. The early April heat was just about bearable but without any cafes and available water we called for backup and drove the remaining distance to the impressive Museum of Islamic Art.

The Museum hosts changing exhibits but it is the architecture of the building itself that left a lasting impression. The marble staircase and overhead lighting was more intriguing than it's displays.

The area around the museum is also undergoing change. A walkway leads around to playgrounds, cafes with a view of the city and the recent addition of '7' an 80 foot steel plate sculpture by American artist and sculptor Richard Serra celebrating the scientific and spiritual significance of the number seven in Islamic culture.

Even the older areas of the city are being given a makeover with Souq Waqif, home to restaurants and small shops, being rebuilt as recent as 2007 and walking around in the evening felt friendly and relaxed with chatter emitting from the numerous coffee shops and eateries.

What to see outside the city

Doha is getting there. The Katara Cultural village to the North is a mix of arts and entertainment and held a food festival whilst we there and the Pearl which a short distance away is a quiet getaway from the busy streets of the capital, even though the Armani and Ferrari stores were a little out of our price range. Spotting colourful fish playing around the expensive yachts docked in the harbour was far more entertaining than sporting the latest fashion anyway.

With plans to build several stadiums in time for the World Cup, Doha, as well as the rest of Qatar, will see plenty more changes in the coming years.