Malls, Mosques, Museums and Meals - Msheireb
Welcome to the fourth article in our Malls, Mosques, Museums and Meals series. We’re here to take you on a journey through some of Doha’s best-loved sights and attractions clustered around specific areas in and around the city. Plus, if you’re having a day out sightseeing, we’ll recommend somewhere to grab a meal too. So, read on and come with us as we weave our way through some of the best places of interest Qatar has to offer:
Msheireb is Qatar's oldest commercial centre, located a stone's throw from Souq Waqif, the Amiri Diwan (the seat of government and the royal palace) and Al Bidda Park. However, this historic downtown area has been completely redeveloped over the last decade. The regeneration project was designed to revive the old trading district while preserving the historical centre to create a modern living, working and leisure space. The result is a truly beautiful, contemporary district full of features inspired by Qatari heritage and traditional architecture, perfectly blended with modern designs. Plus, the entire zone has been built to the highest sustainability standards.
Not only is this city hub now a distinctly desirable place to live and work, but it is also a fantastic place to visit. Cool, shaded streets and sand-coloured buildings around tree-filled courtyards with zen-style water features are a delight to wander through. Heritage sites, art houses and galleries, shopping districts and an array of cafes and restaurants make it a pleasure to spend a few hours in. And a free-to-use sustainable electric tram makes it an easy destination to get around.
Within the borders of the Msheireb downtown area, there are a host of things to see and do; you could easily spend a day wandering here. However, let's look at some of the top attractions - a brand-new mall, a mosque, a set of heritage museums, and somewhere to grab a bite to eat…
Msheireb Galleria is downtown's latest shopping, dining and leisure destination. However, this venue has a twist. While many shops on offer are permanent affairs, at least thirty of the outlets are pop-up, selling a variety of boutique-style wares from bags and accessories, abayas and other clothing, jewellery and watches to homeware and decor. The Galleria also boasts a host of art galleries, exhibition spaces, and an array of public art to explore.
Once you have finished exploring the ever-changing shops and admiring the local art on display, you can always visit the NOVO cinema, which offers all the usual screening plus 3D and the luxury Majlis (sofa-style) experience. Or stop in one of the gastronomic eateries on offer - check out Cho Cho Mai for some tiny but perfectly formed Pan Asian treats or Super Bowl Poke for healthy Hawaiian chow. Or if dessert is more your thing, try the premium bakery So Souffle for Japanese pancakes or The Guilt Free for healthy cakes, smoothies and dessert bars.
The Galleria is a calm, colourful and contemporary place to spend a couple of hours perusing shops and other distractions without succumbing to shopping fatigue. Open 10 am - 10 pm daily, with Friday Prayer closing and an extra hour in the evening on Thursdays; there's plenty of opportunity to drop in - you can find them on Abdulla bin Thani Street. Check out the venue on Instagram before you go @msheirebgalleria.
The award-winning Msheireb Mosque, located on Al Arsheef Al Watani Street, is a brand new house of worship designed to emulate the traditional simplicity of Qatari mosques while incorporating Islamic features and modern architectural elements. With a capacity for 600 worshippers, the mosque is an uncomplicated but truly stunning building.
Plain white, with simple lines, high elongated windows, tall doors and a slim, towering minaret give the building a sense of elegance and tranquillity - a design feature that continues inside. Simple lines and plain colours dominate here too, but geometric patterns adorn the walls, doors, windows and ceilings - some of which let in natural light and create designs and motifs on the surfaces below. Natural shading and ventilation keep the inside cool and comfortable and create a sustainable environment for prayer and worship. Outside, a stone wall surrounds the mosque and a courtyard, creating a beautiful patio, and a pool in the middle provides a feeling of peacefulness and reflection. Designed as an urban sanctuary, a tranquil spot to worship away from distractions, Msheireb Mosque more than archives its goal.
Open to visitors and free to enter, the mosque is well worth a visit to learn more about Qatari culture and Islam, admire the architecture and design, or even spend time in quiet contemplation.
Image: Qatar Museums
Opened in 2015 and located off of Jassim bin Mohammed Street, the Msheireb Museums celebrate Qatar's national history, culture and social development through four restored heritage buildings. Each house, set around its own traditional and tranquil courtyard, tells the story of the occupations or lives of those people who originally lived in them and chart Qatar's history through slavery and its abolition, the discovery of oil, domestic life in the 20th century, and the past and present of the Msheireb area.
The four white and sand-coloured houses, set adjacent or opposite one another, include Bin Jalmood House – charting the history of slavery in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean and touching on the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking. Company House – recounting the history of the pioneering workers and their families who helped to transform Qatar into the global powerhouse it is today. Radwani House – highlighting the traditional lifestyle of Qatari families in the last century. And Mohamed Bin Jassim House – chronicling the past and present journey of downtown Msheireb.
The past stories are brought to life through original architecture, objects and artefacts, life-sized models and sculptures, films and documentaries, projected visual media, as well as state-of-the-art interactive digital screens, displays and tables, and hands-on educational activities and games. The museum also incorporates outdoor spaces, light, spacious galleries, a library, study areas, quiet reflection rooms, a restaurant and cafe, a gift shop, and a DNA exhibition reflecting Qatar's diversity throughout history.
This world-class museum captures the massive changes wrought across Qatar in the last century and is well worth exploring for its beauty, tranquillity, composed storytelling, and captivating activities. Open every day except Sundays, from 9 am - 5 pm, and Fridays, from 3 pm to 9 pm, the museum is free to enter! Explore the museum's Instagram @msheirebmuseums before you go or their website, www.msheirebmuseums.com, for further information.
Meal - Hoppers Doha
There are so many great places to eat in Downtown Msheireb from bakeries to pizzerias, cafes to breakfast bars, light bite bistros to high-end restaurants, independent, chain and speciality eateries, and all serving great food in beautiful, modern surroundings. Plus, you can eat food from around the world within just a couple of blocks - Msherieb has a host of restaurants serving Arabic, Asian, American, British, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Mexican, Pakistani, Persian and Thai, to name a few. However, if you're looking for a recommendation, try Hoppers Doha, a London-born restaurant with its roots firmly implanted in Sri Lankan culture, food and drink.
Hoppers Doha sits in Barahat, the covered outdoor courtyard at the heart of Msheireb, surrounded by sleek, contemporary sandstone buildings, trees and water gardens. The restaurant, set out over two floors, is of typical Sri Lankan colonial style - cool and uncluttered, with a variety of dark wood features (floors, doors, wooden ceiling panels and tables inlaid with Lankan motifs), an array of planter chairs and traditional Raksha masks adorning the walls. And if walking into the restaurant transports you to South Asia, wait till you try the food. Using ingredients from Sri Lankan and South Indian cuisine and traditional cooking methods, though styled for the modern dinner, Hoppers' dishes are as close to authentic as you can get. Try the Green Pepper Chicken Bites, the Devilled Paneer or the Hot Buttered Squid if you're looking for a light bite. Otherwise, tuck into a version of Sri Lanka's favourite street food, the Lamb Kothu Roti, or a typical curry dish, such as Black Lamb Curry. And, if you fancy a dessert, check out the Sizzling Date and Banana Cake for an inventive and delicious sugar rush.
The restaurant is open daily from 12 noon to 3 pm and from 6 pm to 11 pm (except on Friday when it opens at 1 pm rather than noon). Check them out on Instagram @hoppersdoha or give them a bell on +974 4487 6472 and book a table before you go.
If you enjoyed reading this article, why not have a flick through one of the others in the Malls, Mosques, Museums and Meals series? There are some great places to visit in Al Wakrah:
Main image: Shutterstock/Fitria Ramli
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