Sitting beside the white sands of the Persian Gulf, home to the Hawksbill turtles, Doha is Qatar’s idiosyncratically Arab capital. Built on Bedouin ruins, Doha has quickly forgotten its humble beginnings and transformed itself into a cutting edge metropolitan with a bulging skyline. But behind its skyscrapers lies pristine desert landscapes with transient sand dunes, blowing across the underrated capital a mix of scintillating Arab music and fragrances of international cuisines. While Doha’s northern coast is strewn with towering buildings, it’s glass reflecting across the salty waters of the Gulf, southern areas like Fuwayrit still remain etched with Bedouin heritage and turquoise waterfronts.
Labelled as the 'biggest buyer of contemporary art in 2013’, Doha is undoubtedly Qatar’s cultural centre, boasting of galleries displaying a plethora of Middle Eastern Art with heightened Arab influences, as well as note worthy international galleries. Living in Doha means revelling in its wild landscapes tinted with limestone cliffs, gorging on it’s fine dining as much as it’s prodigious street food, cherishing it’s art and aesthetics and sunbathing on weekends.
Here is a list of neighbourhoods rated high on the Doha real estate scene:
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This square shaped municipality is one of the most planned industrial and commercial centres in Doha, and overlooks the unmistakable silhouette of the Doha Corniche Promenade. Al Souq is identified as a prime location for expats, owing to an abundance of government buildings situated on the Abdullah Bin Jassim Street.
But Al Souq isn’t all about this. As it’s names suggests, the locality is stocked with the best souqs of Doha, the essence of which is best captured at its renowned 'standing market', or the Souq Wakif. If you stay in Al Souq, simply drawing aside your curtain can fill your room with the fragrances of exquisite spices.
Doha loves to shop, whether it is in rakish high end malls or designer showrooms. But Al Souq gives you the opportunity to explore the authentic, cultural side of Doha, not yet affected by rapid westernisation.
With crumbling mud walls adorned with glass work, giving way to small stalls, the Souq Wakif is traditionally and unabashedly middle Eastern amidst a sea of sky rocketing buildings. Filled with antique stores, boutiques, salons and art galleries, Souq Wakif is a conflation of the various cultures and traditions seen in Qatar throughout the millennium. The Grand Hamad street and the Corniche Street are the major lifelines of the neighbourhood, running across its geography, and are studded with cafés, libraries and galleries designed perfectly for an aesthetic evening away from the hustle of the markets.
The Pearl is Doha’s most expensive neighbourhood, given that it is an artificial island floating on the turquoise waters, basking in the ruthless sun of the Persian Gulf. Sorrounded by lustrous glass skyscrapers, The Pearl is a sustainable island, and features villas, penthouses, condos and apartments for those with an expensive taste in real estate. The Pearl is Doha at its best, with state of the art entertainment options, Mediterranean style marinas and pristine beaches. Divided into ten architecturally different precincts like the Viva Bahriya, the Floresta Gardens, the Qanat Quartier and the Porto Arabia, the Pearl is home to more than three hundred retail shops, and provides everything from high end designer brands to artsy cafés. There is hardly anything that you won’t find on this man made wonder, and it stands like a world of its own, 35 metres away from the Qatar mainland.
The Pearl is a treasure trove for lovers of architecture, and even though it’s a 21st century development, architectural influences from the Venetian, Mediterranean and Moroccan colony style architecture are abundant at every turn. For a hearty weekend lunch, international options like Shakespeare and Co, the Lebanese Debs W Remman, and exotic south American coffee brews at the Medina Centrale await you with open arms. The Pearl is certainly the most happening place to live in Doha, and if you love beaches, yachts and all things luxury, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be here.
The West Bay is, ironically, Doha’s eastern extreme. Doha is unquestionably a city under construction, full of dusty streets and half made buildings, and while the rest of the city is somewhat on the ground, the West Bay, with its breath taking architecture is busy flying to the moon. Unlike a majority of Doha's neighbourhood which are amalgamations of middle Eastern and Western influences, the West Bay is predominantly modern. While the West Bay is Doha’s attempt at creating the skyline of Shanghai or Tokyo, filled to the brim with skyscrapers, it retains its cultural heart somewhere in its little nooks, in the form of the Katara cultural village, boutiques and traditional restaurants serving regional delicacies. The place is overflowing with gourmet food, whether it is at the Zendo or the Nusr-Et Steakhouse.
The neighbourhood is also where the Doha Corniche and the Burj Qatar are located, the prime buildings of the capital’s skyline. The Corniche is stocked with cafés, juice bars, restaurants and boutiques, and doubles up as a running track for many expats living here, giving an eye catching view of the sea. The Sheraton Park in the nucleus of the neighbourhood is what keeps the city sane, and is one of the rare places to wind down with a traditional karak after a long day. The West Bay is also a centre of education in Doha, and most prominent international schools are located in this neighbourhood. Overall, the West Bay can be called the perfect expatriate neighbourhood in the capital, with beaches, shopping plazas, cafés and schools, it caters to all foreign demands.
Al Hilal is a multipurpose district in Doha, with the Doha Mall, the city’s first shopping plaza, the embassies of many countries, the Al Hilal Park and the Al Khansa Library, one of the largest public libraries in the country, this neighbourhood is a mix of many diasporas. Academics and expats constitute the main population of the locality. Al Hilal is dotted with seven mosques, amongst which the Al Kuwari Mosque and the Husain Bin Mosque are built in traditional Arabic fashion.
Al Hilal is one of the culinary hotspots of Doha, and living in this location means gorging on middle Eastern delicacies at the Asiana Restaurant, the Doha Rocks Café and the Bachikka Restaurant also providing fine dining options. The neighbourhood is in proximity to the Museum of Islamic Arts, situated south of the historic Corniche. The Museum of Islamic Arts gives visitors a glimpse into the 1400 year old Islamic tradition spread over three continents, and the buildings limestone façade captures the idiosyncratic Islamic architecture first developed in the area. Various artefacts carved with wood and stone represent the traditional Islamic culture at the heart of the city.
The awestriking building of the National Museum of Qatar is also located close to the Al Hilal. Created by the French architect Nouvel, the curved disks and rising roofs of the National Museum add a chic touch to the city’s skyline. It is perfect for a weekend visit, and you can appreciate the modern and traditional blend of culture that Doha is so famous for best at this Museum. Al Hilal is in the centre of an educational, artistic and cultural network, and with a wide range of real estate options overlooking parks and high rising horizons, who could say no to its welcoming streets?
Barwa City is a suburban locality situated on the periphery of Doha. A quiet neighbourhood a little removed from the dust and noise of the commercial capital, Barwa is essentially a low rise locale suitable for families. The nearest supermarket and shopping mall, Safari, is about a fifteen minutes drive from the heart of the neighbourhood, and is well stocked with international brands and cafés, along with bookshops and boutiques. The neighbourhood is well connected to most of Doha, and therefore weekend getaways to the Souq Wakif, Falconry Souq, Corniche or the Pearl are easily accessible.
The neighbourhood is steeped with recreational facilities, the blazing golden sands of the Al Wakrah Beach and it’s adjoining Public Garden is the perfect spot for a quaint family picnic, without the typical crowds of public places in Doha.
If you want a quite home, a sunny porch and a little distance from the hullabaloo of Doha, Barwa City offers the perfect real estate, with traditional style bungalows, penthouses or modern apartments.
Located in the Ad Dawdah municipality, the neighbourhood of Madinat Khalifa is is divided into the Madinat Khalifa North and South, established in the 1970’s by the Emir of Qatar for elite Qatari families. The neighbourhood is strewn with middle Eastern buildings, with intricate marble, one example of which is the National Traffic Department office, built in the traditional 1920’s style. The locality is surrounded by lush parks on both sides, offering a location to rejuvenate and walk through a hot afternoon. The Al Ghariya Park and the North Khalifa City Park are full of samr plants and other native plants and trees. The Madinat Khalifa is going to be one of the first neighbourhoods to be connected by the underground metro system, making it easily and economically accessible from all main centres of the capital.
The Madinat Khalifa is a posh real estate options, and with the salty air of the Persian Gulf a few miles away, the Mediterranean style villas abundant in the locality and the soft rustling of palm trees, this neighbourhood is the perfect aesthetic suburb you are looking for.