Qatar’s Five Most Spectacular Indoor Attractions
The Middle East is notorious for its scorching heat, and Qatar is no exception. The temperatures can rise above a challenging 40 degrees during the summer months, with a blistering record high of 50.4 degrees recorded. However, Qatar is a country of innovation and advancement, and a little thing like the heat is certainly not going to curtail its people's way of life! On hotter days, most of the population may head indoors, but there is an absolute myriad of climate-controlled activities available to suit every taste and budget.
Whatever your age, ability or heart's desire, Qatar has an array of indoor activities on offer. What about shopping in one of Doha's many, many Malls, each with a myriad of shops, restaurants and cafes to keep one entertained all day. Plus, Qatar's malls offer so much more besides, in terms of entertainment options. From ice rinks, bowling alleys, cinemas, amusement and gaming arcades, and children's soft play areas to trampoline parks, theme parks, edutainment parks, snow parks and regular live entertainment, malls offer something for everyone. Or why not try mooching around Qatar's beautiful, diverse and well-curated museums or art galleries. Visiting museums and some of Qatar's most revered mosques provides a welcome break from the summer sun and an opportunity to learn a little more about the country's history, heritage, and culture. Then there is the country's plethora of hotels and resorts, which offer day access to tranquil spas and wellness retreats, well-equipped fitness centres, indoor and outdoor pools and manicured beaches, as well as mouth-watering brunches, afternoon teas and a host of other dining options. Outside of those options, there are immense libraries (whose architecture alone will take your breath away), popular escape room adventures, family-friendly entertainment venues, indoor sports and leisure centres, and much, much more.
With so many indoor activities to choose from, we have put together a list of our five first-choice spots to keep calm and carry on, no matter the weather!
Mall of Qatar
As Qatar’s largest shopping destination and a regional super mall, the Mall of Qatar is one of the country’s all-rounders when it comes to indoor activities. Designed to keep over 20 million visitors per year occupied and amused, this mall offers the perfect combination of retail, dining, leisure and entertainment, for all ages, tastes and budgets. If you are looking for a place to escape the heat, check out all the mall has to offer…
Opened in 2017, the Mall of Qatar boasts over five hundred retail stores from high end to high street, clothing to homeware, in department stores to luxury plazas, and for men, women and children. It also houses over one hundred food and beverage outlets, ranging from food court stands and kiosks, chain restaurants and cafes to unique signature restaurants. It even has its own Metro Station, an adjoining five-star hotel, and a host of original artwork strategically placed within its walkways and galleries. However, it is the entertainment offering that is becoming known as the Mall of Qatar’s jewel in the crown.
From adults to kids, solo visitors to couples and families and everything in between, there are plenty of entertainment options across the mall. Visitors can watch current and popular movies and international films at the mall's nineteen screen cinema complex or compete at the ten-lane bowling alley. A dedicated Family Entertainment Complex within the Mall incorporates an entertainment park for all ages, Xtremeland, and the kids-only international edutainment park, KidzMondo. Xtremeland attractions include a host of fairground rides for adrenaline junkies, a high-wire adventure course, a trampoline park, four climbing walls, a giant three-storey-high slide, and a six-level soft play area. It also houses arcade games, simulated rides, a 7D theatre and video-gaming activities. KidzMondo is a scaled-down city built especially for children. In this mini-city, kids can 'work' as pilots, astronauts, firemen, policemen, doctors, nurses, hairdressers, hoteliers, builders and more to earn 'kidlars', the official KidzMondo currency, which they can then spend in a variety of shops. And, with over eighty professions to choose from, there are hours of fun to be had. However, the pièce de résistance is the Oasis. Set in the heart of the mall under a 30m high atrium is a rotating, multi-lift stage on which the world's first resident mall theatre group perform free shows. Surrounded by restaurants and cafes on two levels, visitors can watch spectacular performances, musical events and more all year round. Plus, the entertainment spills out into the rest of the mall with performances, kids activities and events located in the galleries and walkways.
The Mall of Qatar is located on the city's outskirts in Al Rayyan, adjacent to one of the World Cup host nations' brand new stadiums, Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. The mall can be reached, via the Khalifa Highway, by car, taxi or bus. Over 7,000 car parking spaces above and underground can accommodate visitors arriving under their own steam. However, the Doha Metro offers a direct 20-minute service from the centre of Doha to Al Riffa Station at the mall via the Green Line.
The mall opens daily from 10 am to 10 pm, Saturday to Wednesday, and from 10 am to 12 am on Thursdays and Fridays. However, some stores, cafes and restaurants operate under their own time schedule. For further information, contact the mall on:
Tel: +974 4034 6000/6063
Email: [email protected]
Social Media: @mallofqatar
National Museum of Qatar
The National Museum of Qatar is the story of its nation's namesake from more than 700 million years ago to the present day; it is also an architectural wonder. The building is constructed of interlocking sand coloured disks designed to resemble the crystals of the desert rose, and it took almost a decade to build. If only to admire the ingeniousness of the building structure itself, it's worth a visit to this museum. However, as magnificent as the building is, this venue offers plenty more.
Once inside the stunning edifice, you are taken on a journey via connecting galleries that start in Qatar over 700 million years ago and work their way through to the country's present day. However, the galleries aren't just full of glass housed displays. This museum incorporates innovative audio-visual, interactive and sensory techniques and technologies. From the sloping floors leading from the top to the bottom of the museum, through its strange-shaped rooms created by the building's construction to the all-encompassing 360o floor to ceiling film projections, recorded sounds, testimonials, films and poetry, diffused aromas, clever lighting and interactive displays, you are taken on a fully immersive and educational trip. The museum covers Qatar's prehistoric beginnings and early life, its natural environment, the history of its ancient people, its tribes and their traditions, the discovery of oil, the unification of the tribes, independence, modernisation, and today's hopes and plans for the future. After you reach the end of the final gallery, you are directed to the restored 1900s Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani located in the tranquil gardens of the museum.
While a wonder for adults, the museum also aims to educate and entertain and immerse its younger visitors. Across the galleries are six specifically designed areas, covering the natural environment, archaeology, people, desert life, life on the coast and energy, especially for families and children. Each area covers a different theme and allows little visitors to continue exploring the themes covered in the main galleries through interactive activities and technologies designed to be playful, fun and engaging. And outside the main building, kids will also find three interactive playgrounds to explore.
As a go-to place for hot days, the National Museum of Qatar is at the top of the list. The museum is a wonder to behold, captivating and a fun experience. Aside from the galleries, it also houses a library, three cafes, a restaurant, two gift shops (one specifically for kids), various exhibitions, and hosts workshops and events throughout the year. It is perfect for everyone and anyone.
The museum, located on Museum Park Street, is easily accessible by car and taxi from the Corniche and Metro via the Gold Line service. A large car park with covered and underground parking is available.
The museum opens daily from 9 am to 7 pm, Saturday to Thursday, and from 1:30 pm to 7 pm, on Fridays. However, cafes and restaurants operate under their own time schedule. For further information, contact the museum on:
Tel: +974 4452 5555
Email: [email protected]
Social Media: @NMOQatar
Access to the museum is free to all Qatari residents (with a valid Qatar ID card); non-resident adult visitors are charged QAR 50, and non-resident students QAR 25.
National Library of Qatar
Image: SLSK Photography/Shutterstock.com
A library may not be your first choice of entertainment venue on a particularly hot day in the Middle East. However, the National Library of Qatar is an exceptional place to while away a tranquil few hours. Like many buildings in Doha, the National Library is architecturally a wonder itself. Shaped like a horizontal, elongated 3D diamond, with the entrance ramp leading up into the belly of the building, one could be forgiven for comparing the building to a futuristic craft from outer space. And once inside the building, you really are transported to a different world. High, glossy white ceilings supported by huge pillars, polished marble floors, bright lighting and modern, individually lit display cabinets, set on ascending steps that follow the lines of the building up to its ceiling, give a sense of otherworldliness. However, dotted around the central atrium, softening the starkness of the cavernous hall, are signs of normal life…
Alongside around one million books adorning the brightly lit display cabinets, the stepped floor levels contain a multitude of workstations for visitors to read and study. The main hall floor is strewn with bean bags, comfy chairs and board games for more relaxed readers and visitors, and a small cafe at the centre boasts hanging bubble chairs that add to the relaxed atmosphere that pervades the building. Above on a mezzanine level, more workstations, furnished printers and scanners, study rooms, media lounges, and conference rooms, all team with academic life. And tucked away behind the main bookshelves is a bright, comfortable and secure children's library with over 100,000 books for kids up to 11 years old. And while children have the opportunity to read and learn, they also have the chance to play. The kids' space also incorporates interactive learning games and activities, educational toys, crafts tables, and even a climbing wall and soft play area for children five and younger. Teens have their own section of the library too, filled with 30,000 books and other media for study and relaxation.
However, it's not all books and studying at the library. Individual technology rooms can be hired hourly and are furnished with 3D printers, green screens, video and photography equipment, sound recording equipment, musical instruments, electronic and robotics equipment, and all relevant software. There is also a Heritage Library on the Ground Floor to explore. It consists of rare and valuable books and artefacts. It includes early texts and manuscripts relating to Arabic and Islamic civilisation, historical maps and early photographs of Qatar and the wider Gulf region, writings and other unique relics from travellers visiting and passing through the area over the centuries. An amphitheatre in the main hall is often open to the public for the arts, such as performances by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. Plus, the library hosts various events, courses, workshops, exhibitions and educational and social clubs for adults and children every month. And, there is a restaurant providing healthy, reasonably priced meals and refreshments.
The library is a perfect place for adults and kids to spend a hot afternoon in a quiet, peaceful environment reading, studying, discovering and enjoying this marvellous space.
Located in Education City, the National Library can be easily reached by car or taxi and by public transport on the bus or via the Metro. The QF Bus or the Metro Green Line stop within a short walking distance of the library’s main entrance.
The library is open to the public daily from 8 am to 8 pm, Saturday to Thursday, and from 4 pm to 8 pm on Fridays. The children’s library closes at 6:30 pm every evening. Access to the library is free.
For more information, contact the library on:
Tel: +974 4454 0100
Email: [email protected]
Social Media: @TheQatarNationalLibrary
Imam Abdul Wahhab Mosque
Image: Benny Marty/Shutterstock.com
If you're looking for a truly authentic cultural experience, then a visit to Qatar's largest mosque, Imam Abdul Wahab Mosque, would more than suffice. Sat atop one of the Qatari peninsula's only hills, the colossal sandstone edifice, originally built at the beginning of the 20th century by the founder of Qatar, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, is a sight to behold. Architecturally, the mosque is modern, with simple lines making up much of the structure. However, with a nod to traditional Islamic design, arched doorways and features and intricate geometric patterns adorn the façade, and an abundance of domes (93 in total) and a single minaret dominate the roof. From the site itself, visitors can take in an uninterrupted view of Doha and West Bay's impressive skyscraper-filled skyline.
Inside the building, renovated for and inaugurated in 2011 and built over three levels, visitors can admire the tranquil environment made up of cool marble flooring, beautiful arched walkways and high ceilinged, cavernous prayer halls, complete with decorous chandeliers, as well as three libraries, and a large peaceful courtyard at the centre of the construction.
Guests of any religious affiliation and above the age of seven are welcome outside of prayer times, and organised tours are offered. However, shoes must be removed before entry, and conservative dress must be adhered to – ladies are provided with clean head coverings and abayas, if necessary. No food is allowed inside the mosque.
Easily accessible by car or taxi, the Grand State Mosque, as previously known before its 21st-century renovation, is located on Al Muhandissen Street north of Doha Sports Club and the Corniche on Khalifa Street.
For opening times and to organise guided tours, contact the mosque on:
Tel: +974 4470 000
Access to the mosque is free.
Zulal Wellness Resort
Zulal Wellness Resort, a luxury coastal health and wellbeing resort on the edge of the Arabian Gulf, is our most indulgent recommendation for indoor pursuits. However, if you are looking to truly nurture your mind, body, and soul and escape the heat, this retreat by Chiva-som, Thailand's internationally renowned and pioneering wellness destination, is worth the expense. As the largest wellness resort in the Middle East, Zulal offers a host of retreats (from three to fourteen nights and limited, single night packages) that focus on helping their clients restore balance to their lives, away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.
Within the boundaries of the resort's secluded location, visitors can relax and unwind in elegant and serene surroundings and enjoy a host of facilities, treatments and activities. The whole experience is designed to immerse and transform, from the beautiful surroundings, luxury rooms and suites and healthy cuisines to the traditional Arabic and Islamic medicines, holistic healing techniques and the latest wellbeing technology practices. Depending on your needs - physio, nutritional, holistic health, fitness, relaxation or aesthetics - you can pick and choose from a range of treatments (massages and facials to acupuncture and cupping, detox and cleansing therapies to therapeutic movement treatments) and onsite activities (cooking classes, yoga, Pilates, meditation, swimming, badminton, volleyball, table tennis, fitness classes, aqua classes, etc.).
Individuals, couples and groups are all welcome at the resort, as are families with children. Zulal not only caters for adults but has a family side of the resort, especially for family wellness. Zulal Discovery incorporates packages with a raft of activities for children up to 12 years old. Each package includes age-appropriate wellness, leisure and entertainment options, including spa and fitness, creative, educational, and sporting activities.
Accessible via car or taxi, Zulal Wellness is just over an hour away from Doha via the Al Shamal Road, located near Al Ruwais on Qatar's northern shores.
For packages, costs, reservations and any other queries contact Zulal on:
Tel: +974 4477 6500
Email: [email protected]