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Food, Travel

Discovering Doha: A Luxurious Oasis in the Heart of the Desert

Doha, the glittering gem of Qatar, is an intriguing blend of ancient traditions and futuristic aspirations. Nestled along the sun-drenched coast of the Persian Gulf, this city has emerged as a modern marvel, offering visitors an opulent playground of world-class dining, extravagant malls, and exhilarating desert adventures. My journey through Doha revealed a destination that is both indulgently luxurious and steeped in cultural richness.

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A Gastronomic Journey

As a foodie from Melbourne, I approached Doha with high culinary expectations, and the city did not disappoint. The burgeoning food scene in Doha is a testament to its cosmopolitan nature, with influences from across the globe converging to create a vibrant and diverse culinary landscape.

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At the heart of Doha's culinary offerings is IDAM by Alain Ducasse, situated in the iconic Museum of Islamic Art. This restaurant is a revelation, merging Mediterranean flavors with the richness of Arabian ingredients. The interior, designed by Philippe Starck, offers a sophisticated yet intimate dining experience. Here, dishes such as camel tagine and traditional harees are elevated to gourmet status, providing a luxurious taste of Qatari heritage. Image: IDAM by Alain Ducasse.

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For those seeking an authentic taste of local cuisine, Al Mourjan on the Corniche is a must-visit. Overlooking the serene waters of the Arabian Gulf, this restaurant serves traditional Lebanese and Qatari dishes. The mixed grill platter, featuring perfectly seasoned meats, and the array of mezze, from hummus to baba ghanoush, are a testament to the Middle Eastern culinary mastery. Dining al fresco with the gentle sea breeze and the Doha skyline as a backdrop is an experience to savor.

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Hakkasan Doha, part of the globally renowned Hakkasan Group, brings a touch of contemporary Cantonese cuisine to the city's dining scene. The dim sum platter is a highlight, featuring delicate parcels of flavors that burst with each bite. The sleek, modern design of the restaurant complements the sophisticated dishes, making it a favored spot for both locals and visitors. Image: Hakkasan Doha.

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In terms of street food Turkey Central Restaurant is a culinary gem in the heart of Doha that beckons to both locals and travelers alike, offering a transcendent Turkish dining experience that is nothing short of divine. A real favourite of locals.

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All you can eat mouth watering tender prime meats, chicken and prawns await at Texas De Brazil (a Brazilian-American steakhouse) carved tableside and this top notch restaurant also features a salad bar with 50 fresh gourmet items in Mall of Qatar. We enjoyed the traditions of Brazilian churrasco blend including standout Picanha, Lamb Chops, Braised Beef Ribs and Filet Mignon, and having been to Brazil, this brought back memories of iconic Brazilian steakhouses. Image credit top above: Texas De Brazil.

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The Cheesecake Factory in Doha (a chain we don’t get in Australia) offers a delightful culinary experience, with standout dishes like the succulent Madeira chicken, perfectly complemented by rich sauce and tender mushrooms, and their burgers. Their avocado rolls are a delightful fusion of creamy avocado and crunchy tempura, offering a refreshing twist. Additionally, their salad dishes are fresh, vibrant, and bursting with flavor, making them a satisfying option for those seeking lighter fare.

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Arabic juicy kebab joy features at popular Iranian restaurant at Lamazani. Quality meat skewers cooked over flames with Iranian bread, along with hummus and Rocca and lemon excites. Highlights include Lamb chops and French fries, kofta mutton skewers, chicken skewers and spicy chicken skewers. Dessert was akin to a crème brûlée and also hit the spot. Iranian tea was exceptional and refreshing. They have 8 restaurants in Qatar. 

Signature US Prime Rib Eye with cheesy potato croquettes, coal roasted red pepper sauce, Pan Seared Mushrooms, Chimichurri is a mouthwatering dish at Twisted Olive, near the Burj Doha.

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We also enjoyed giant crispy dosas in Doha! Amazing Giant Family Dosa plus Mini Tiffin dosas at Chettinad @Aryaasqatar the OG dosa destination was a memorable experience!  Served with a variety of delicious chutneys and enjoyed with Chai Tea. Another favourite with locals.

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In the heart of Doha’s vibrant Katara Cultural Village Bayt Eltalleh emerges as a beacon of Levantine excellence, offering an unforgettable journey through the flavors of Lebanon and the Middle East. Nestled against the stunning backdrop of Katara South Hills, this culinary gem sets the stage for an evening of joyous and convivial shared dining, as enjoyed by our group.

Retail Reverie

Doha's shopping experience is nothing short of extraordinary, with malls that transcend mere retail spaces to become hubs of entertainment and luxury. The Villaggio Mall stands out as a unique blend of Venice and the Middle East. With its indoor canal, complete with gondola rides, and a ceiling painted to resemble a perfect blue sky, the Villaggio Mall offers a whimsical escape from the ordinary. The high-end boutiques, including Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, cater to those with a penchant for luxury. Image credit below: The Villagio Mall.

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Another gem in Doha's retail crown is The Pearl-Qatar, an artificial island spanning nearly four million square meters. The Pearl is a marvel of modern engineering and design, offering an upscale shopping experience amid stunning waterfront views. Boutiques such as Hermes, Dolce & Gabbana, and Roberto Cavalli line the promenades, while gourmet restaurants and cafes provide a plethora of dining options. The Pearl is not just a shopping destination but a lifestyle experience, exuding an air of exclusivity and elegance.

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Mall of Qatar is the epitome of retail indulgence, boasting over 500 stores and an array of entertainment options. The luxury court, with brands like Dior, Chanel, and Cartier, is a testament to the mall's dedication to providing a premier shopping experience. The mall's family-friendly offerings, including a cinema and an indoor amusement park, make it a destination that caters to all ages. Image credit: Mall of Qatar.


Modern Metropolis

Beyond its dining and shopping, Doha is a city that impresses with its modernity and architectural marvels. The skyline is dotted with futuristic skyscrapers, each more striking than the last. The Tornado Tower, with its distinctive cylindrical shape, and the Burj Doha, with its intricate facade inspired by traditional Islamic patterns, are just a few examples of the city's architectural prowess.

A visit to the Museum of Islamic Art is a journey through centuries of history and culture. Designed by the legendary architect I.M. Pei, the museum itself is a masterpiece, rising majestically from the water. Inside, the collection spans over a thousand years of Islamic art, from intricate ceramics to exquisite textiles. The museum provides a deep dive into the rich cultural heritage that underpins modern Doha.

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For a taste of Doha's rapid development, the Msheireb Downtown Doha is a pioneering urban regeneration project that combines traditional Qatari architecture with cutting-edge sustainability. The area is a testament to Doha's commitment to preserving its cultural identity while embracing the future. Image credit: Time Out Doha.

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Take a stroll as we did in the stunning Aspire Park, a lush 88-hectare popular events hub with sprawling lush lawns, play areas, running tracks and workout equipment. A great place to have a picnic overlooking the Aspire Tower.

Desert Adventures

No trip to Doha is complete without venturing into the surrounding desert, where the timeless beauty of the dunes provides a stark contrast to the city's modernity. One of the most exhilarating experiences is a desert safari, where 4x4 vehicles navigate the shifting sands in a thrilling display of driving prowess. The sensation of cresting a dune and descending at breakneck speed is both heart-pounding and awe-inspiring.

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For a more traditional desert experience, camel riding offers a glimpse into the ancient way of life. These majestic creatures, known as the "ships of the desert," provide a gentle and rhythmic journey through the golden sands. The experience is both serene and surreal, offering a moment of reflection in the vast expanse of the Qatari desert.

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A visit to the Inland Sea (Khor Al Adaid), a UNESCO recognized site, is a testament to the natural beauty that lies just beyond Doha's urban borders. This stunning inland sea is surrounded by towering dunes and offers a tranquil escape where the desert meets the sea. The sight of the sun setting over the dunes, casting a golden glow over the landscape, is a memory that will linger long after the journey ends.

Qatar Airways: A Pinnacle of Excellence

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Qatar Airways is renowned for its exceptional service, blending luxury with traditional Qatari hospitality. From the moment you step on board, you are enveloped in an atmosphere of elegance and comfort. The cabin crew, impeccably trained and attentive, ensure that every passenger's needs are met with grace and efficiency. The in-flight dining experience is a culinary delight, offering a diverse menu that caters to all palates, including gourmet meals and fine wines. Image credit above: Qatar Airways.

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The Platinum Lounge at Doha's Hamad International Airport is a haven of tranquility and luxury. Reserved for Qatar Airways’ top-tier passengers, the lounge offers a serene environment with plush seating, private resting areas, and a gourmet dining experience. The extensive amenities include private showers, spa services, and a fully equipped business center, providing a perfect respite before or between flights. The attention to detail and commitment to excellence in service make Qatar Airways a leader in global aviation.

Hamad International Airport: The World's Best

Hamad International Airport in Doha stands as a testament to modern aviation excellence. Its sleek design and state-of-the-art facilities make it a hub of efficiency and luxury. The airport boasts an array of high-end shopping options, gourmet dining, and world-class art installations that transform the travel experience into an enjoyable journey. 

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The airport's commitment to passenger comfort is evident in its spacious lounges, children's play areas, and quiet rooms. Cutting-edge security and immigration procedures ensure swift and hassle-free transit. Its seamless integration of technology, with features like automated check-in and baggage handling, sets it apart as a leader in innovation. Recognized globally for its superior service and amenities, Hamad International Airport is truly the best in the world. Image credit above: Qatar Airways.

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Our conclusion 

Doha is a city that surprises and delights at every turn. Its luxurious offerings, from gourmet dining to high-end shopping, are matched by its deep cultural roots and modern architectural wonders. The juxtaposition of the bustling metropolis and the serene desert creates a destination that is both dynamic and timeless. Whether indulging in the finest cuisines, exploring cutting-edge malls, or embarking on desert adventures, Doha offers an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of both tradition and modernity.