Doha – To go, or not to go


In Doha, I am wearing an invisibility cloak that keeps blowing off in the wind, at which point people stare and make me nervously fumble to return to invisibility as quickly as possible.

Go to Doha if you:

are enthusiastic about innovative, modern architecture;

want to abstain from alcohol;

want to visit one of the most inspiring and amazing museums/buildings in the world, Museum of Islamic Art;

have ever wanted to see taxidermy in action;

would love to buy (or just look at) falcons;

love a varied, clean souq;

are easily excited by creative non-alcoholic drinks;

appreciate reconstructed rather than original old Arabic architecture;

want to find the holy grail of Nutella pancakes;

would like to walk around the stables of Arabian horses and be able to stroke them;

enjoy evening promenade/corniche walks by the sea with lit-up boats, spectacular city lighting and stunning architecture;

like neon lighting and lit-up dancing fountains;

love kitsch and unlikely themes, especially Venice-style;

want winter sunshine (eg Dec-Feb) but cool-to-cold nights;

(in summer) would feel comfortable sitting right next to an open, hot oven all day and night;

can cope with the above as well as enjoying cold air conditioning;

want to see how quickly a city can be built and grow;

like the idea of seeing a performance in a new old-style amphitheatre looking out to sea through dancing, lit-up fountains.


Don’t go to Doha if you:

expect it to be consistently cheaper than the UK;

expect to be able to wear a bikini or swimming costume or speedos on public beaches;

are not Muslim and it’s Ramadan;

are likely to want to Google local human rights failings while you’re still there;

expect it to be like Dubai for shopping and entertainment;

hope to get a sun tan from walking/lying in the sun with few clothes on;

would feel uncomfortable in a strict, conservative Muslim country;

define a great holiday by the selection of cocktails, beer and wine on offer;

dislike having to use taxis as public transport;

think “The Pearl” islands will be an exciting, authentic Arabic experience full of public-access beaches;

hate rules that in the UK (and most of the world) are assumed norms of acceptable behaviour rather than “must nots”;

are going on holiday to escape the noise, smells and disruption of construction work;

expect a variety of easily accessible activities;

book a cheap (c£35 or less) room in a three or four star hotel that you expect will be lucky bargain;

most enjoy discovering a city on foot;

want a variety of restaurants not just within shopping malls or hotels;

hope to find a lively, vibrant city reminiscent of Middle Eastern desert towns;

are only there on a Friday, especially before 4pm;

hate traffic;

feel uncomfortable being conscious of your status in a hierarchical environment.

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