Discovering Sights Via The Metro Red Line From Al Thumama Stadium
Qatar's stint as a World Cup host brought tens of thousands of fans and spectators to the country, providing an opportunity for people to experience not only the wonder of World Cup football and the awe-inspiring stadiums built to host the games but also the many sights and attractions that the nation has to offer.
With matches hosted in eight stadiums, all within a 60 km radius and in prime city locations surrounded by places of interest, visitors were guaranteed to see many of those attractions as part of their football experience. Now that the World Cup has concluded, the arenas will continue attracting visitors who benefit from the stadiums' proximity to local sights.
However, for Al Thumama Stadium, built in the residential area of Al Thumama, visitors may have to look a little further for additional diversions. While the area's quiet streets provide a lovely stroll and an insight into how Doharites live, there are no real tourist attractions or things to do within its boundaries. But never fear; we have put together a guide to the sights accessible from Doha's Metro Red Line - the closest Metro line to Al Thumama Stadium.
An Introduction to Al Thumama
Image: Fitria Ramli/Shutterstock.com
Al Thumama Stadium is one of the eight stadiums built for the 2022 World Cup Qatar. The stadium is built on the plan of a perfect circle, with a design that is particularly emotive for the people of Qatar and the Arab world. Indeed, Qatari architect, Ibrahim M. Jaidah, based the design on the 'gahfiya' - a circular woven cap worn by boys and men in Qatar and throughout the Arab world. The gahfiya signifies the coming of age since the hat is worn on its own until boys reach adulthood, after which it becomes a base for the 'gutra', a loose headdress (held in place by a black rope called an 'agal') worn by men. The gahfiya, therefore, is a symbol of independence and is part of a culture and tradition that spans the Arab world.
Now the World Cup has concluded, Al Thumama Stadium and the surrounding complex will continue to motivate and inspire the local community, as an ode to tradition and Qatar's coming of age on the international sports scene, but also as a beacon for the future as the country strives to ensure a healthy, happy, sustainable population. The stadium will be transformed into a hub for sports on a local and national level, with the arena capacity reduced from 40,000 seats to 20,000 and the surrounding complex remodelled with running, cycling and walking tracks, courts for a variety of ball sports, and facilities for swimming.
The stadium will also remain an iconic landmark that, for generations to come, will attract Qataris, residents, visitors and tourists to revel in its World Cup history and its stunning architecture. And, for visitors who want to get a closer look at the award-winning stadium or fancy something novel, the arena's upper stands will also incorporate a boutique hotel overlooking the pitch.
Sights and Attractions Accessible from Al Thumama Stadium on the Metro
Al Thumama Stadium is an awesome venue to visit; the perfect curvature of its facade, designed to look like woven material; its sheer size - 35,000 sqm in area and 43 m high; its modern, state-of-the-art features, including a high-tech cooling system, are well-worth viewing up close. But what to do when you've explored the site, taken your photos and uploaded them to Instagram?
Though the surrounding area is mainly residential, so lacking in tourist and leisure features, you don't have to travel too far to find some absolute gems. The Doha Metro Red Line at Oqba Ibn Nafie Metro Station is a short 10-minute taxi ride from the stadium and runs from Lusail to the north of Doha, through the heart of the capital, down past Al Thumama to the coastal town of Al Wakrah. Once on the Metro, you can jump out at various stations to view the following:
Al Wakrah Souq
Image: Fitria Ramli/Shutterstock.com
Taking the Metro Red Line south from Oqba Ibn Nafie Metro Station will take you to Al Wakra Metro Station in less than ten minutes. A free shuttle bus is available every twelve minutes from the station to Al Wakrah Souq, a journey that will take around 20 minutes.
Souq Al Wakrah is a seafront market built in the traditional style of an Arabian bazaar, with narrow alleyways running between scores of clay and limestone buildings, housing shops, studios, cafes and restaurants and set around courtyards, squares and plazas. The souq is bordered on one side by a long promenade, a narrow beach and the sea beyond. You can wander the market's shops, stroll the seafront walkway, relax on the sand, paddle and swim in the cool blue waters of the Gulf, drink coffee on the shoreline, watch fishermen bring in their catch at the town's old port, take the kids crabbing off a small pier, or let them run wild in a well-equipped children's park at the far end of the souq, or wander a little further and have a BBQ on Wakrah Beach North. There is plenty for everyone to do.
The free Metrolink shuttle bus is available outside the souq to return visitors to Al Wakrah Metro Station. Once back at the station, it is worth noting that you can also hail a bus to Al Janoub Stadium, another of the arenas to host the 2022 World Cup.
If you fancy a trip to Al Janoub Stadium, the following article details the venue and additional sites and attractions in the vicinity.
From Oqba Ibn Nafie Metro Station, you can ride the Metro Red Line north to downtown Msheireb in the heart of Doha city. The journey takes less than ten minutes. Msheireb Metro Station is the Metro network's central interchange between the Red, Green and Gold Lines. From Msheireb station, you can head out in every direction to explore Doha and the surrounding areas, should you wish. However, staying on the Red Line…
Msheireb is the most elegant area of Doha. The buildings are all constructed from beige and sand-coloured limestone, simple, smooth and seemingly polished. The streets are clean, quiet, ordered and lined with trees. And the plazas and squares offer tranquil havens amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life. You can amble along the cool streets, stop in various shops, boutiques and the area's high-end mall, Galleria Msheireb, eat in a myriad of cafes and restaurants, and relax and admire the water features in the shade of the largest covered square in the Middle East, Barahat Msheireb. Or, for a more cultural experience, you can head to the Msheireb Museums or the Msheireb Mosque.
The Msheireb Museums comprise four restored heritage houses celebrating Qatar's national history, culture and social development. Each house, set around its own traditional courtyard, charts Qatar's history through stories of the lives or occupations of those who originally lived there. Past stories are brought to life through architecture, objects and artefacts, life-sized models and sculptures, films and documentaries, state-of-the-art interactive technologies, and educational activities and games. The museum also incorporates a restaurant, cafe, gift shop, and DNA exhibition reflecting Qatar's diversity throughout history.
Msheireb Mosque is a beautiful but simple Qatari house of worship adjacent to the Msheireb Museums. With a capacity for 600 worshippers, the mosque is plain white, with simple lines, high elongated windows, tall doors and a slim, towering minaret, giving the building a sense of elegance and tranquillity. Inside, simple lines and plain colours dominate, but geometric patterns that adorn the walls, doors, windows and ceilings let in natural light and create designs and motifs on the surfaces below. 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. Open to visitors and free to enter, this urban sanctuary is a tranquil spot to learn more about Qatari culture and Islam, admire the architecture and design, or even spend time in quiet contemplation.
Al Bidda Park
Al Bidda Park, Doha’s largest green space, is easily accessible from Oqba Ibn Nafie Metro Station in ten minutes - just head north on the Red Line.
Al Bidda Park’s green lawns span 174.5 hectares, and though the park is intersected by two of the city's main roadways to the Corniche, three colourful garden bridges provide continuous links between all areas. Walkways, running and cycling tracks, exercise equipment, sports courts and pitches, seven children's parks, camel tracks, water features, a green maze, cafes and restaurants, BBQ stations, monuments, heritage sites and an amphitheatre make this park a top destination for anyone and everyone. Even the family dog will be at home in Al Bidda - the park is pet friendly. There is so much to do and so many different terrains and features to explore; one day isn't enough; this is the type of place you could visit again and again. Plus, the views across to West Bay’s impressive skyscrapers and the Corniche are some of the most stunning in Doha.
The Corniche, a wide promenade that flows along the city centre's coastline for seven kilometres, is accessible from Al Bidda, the Corniche, West Bay Qatar Energy and DECC Metro Stations. However, the Corniche Metro Station is the most central, with attractions all within walking distance. The journey to the Corniche station from Oqba Ibn Nafie takes a little over ten minutes.
To get to the Corniche from the Metro station, you can head through Umbrella Park. The small green space is a perfectly picturesque place to start your Corniche journey, with air-conditioned floral archways covered in a myriad of colourful umbrellas, blooming plants and flowers; it is an Instagram gem.
Once on the Corniche, the clear blue sky, the glistening waters of the Gulf, dotted with traditional wooden boats, the green grass and fig palms bordering the coastal walkway, the public sculptures and artworks, and the skyscrapers of West Bay towering in the distance, leave you feeling like you're in photographer's heaven. There are so many delightful features along the seafront you'll find it hard to put your camera away.
Heading north to West Bay, there is plenty of stunning architecture to admire, some undeniably modern but some beautifully blended with Arabic and Islamic design. You'll also discover two scenic parks - Al Dafna and Sheraton Park. Al Dafna, right along the seafront, has plenty of green space for relaxing and a great play area for kids. Sheraton Park also has an adventure playground for kids, plus some tranquil water features and a grassy hill to sit on and admire the view, which also takes in the distinctive Sheraton Grand Hotel, Doha's first international hotel, built in the late 70s and shaped like a pyramid. A little further around the coast and beyond the end of the Corniche, you can also find three public beaches. B12 Beach Club, Doha Sands and West Bay Beach are all nestled amid the towering West Bay skyscrapers and, though premium stretches of sand with great facilities, are super affordable.
Heading south, past Al Bidda, you can explore one of our favourite parks, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Park. The waterfront lawns and children’s play areas, set around the impressive museum building, are bordered by the ocean and include two cafes that look across the water to West Bay, providing one of the nicest views of the city. The Museum of Islamic Art is also a great place to investigate, housing a collection of Islamic art masterpieces from over fourteen centuries.
Between the metro station and MIA park, you can stop to admire the Amir Diwan, the workplace and the office of the Amir. Take a boat ride on a traditional boat from Dhow Harbour (join an organised dhow cruise, or haggle for a price with private boat owners). Visit the beautiful Fanar mosque and the traditional Arabian market of Souq Waqif, where you will find a maze of alleyways housing many shops selling textiles, spices, gold, perfume, handicrafts and souvenirs. The market is also home to various cafes and restaurants, boutique hotels, art galleries and a central square for cultural events and activities - often involving traditional singing, dancing and music.
Further south, past the Museum of Islamic Art, you can mooch around the National Museum of Qatar - housed in one of Qatar's most impressive buildings, made up of interlocking sand-coloured disks designed to resemble the blossoming crystals of the desert rose. The museum accommodates over 8,000 artefacts across eleven galleries, enhanced by audio-visuals, interactive technologies and sensory elements, such as evocative aromas, lighting, images, music and sounds, that tell the story of Qatar's past, present and future, encompassing the nation's natural history, the lives of ancestral Bedouins and early seafaring settlers, the establishment of the Qatari state, the discovery of oil, modern-day life in Qatar, and a glimpse of the state's vision for the nation's future. You can also wander around the museum grounds, taking in the buildings' grandeur, relaxing in the green spaces or admiring the various public artworks dotted around.
Image: Regency Holidays
Heading further north on the Metro Red Line to Al Qassar Metro Station, you can access 5/6 Park, a little green oasis between Doha and Lusail City. The journey from Oqba ibn Nafie Metro Station takes around twenty minutes. The park is a few minutes walk south from Al Qassar Station.
5/6 Park is an almost 13-hectare green space sandwiched between two concrete metropolises. Overlooked by Qatar's tallest monument, the 5/6 Arches at the Lusail/Doha Expressway interchange, the park has plenty to offer its visitors. You can find green lawns and an array of pathways (including a barefoot trail of stone, sand and soil) dotted with trees, flower gardens and bushes. Amid the rolling lawns and paths, you can explore a host of other attractions: a vast bowl-shaped, grass-covered amphitheatre, a green maze (created in the shape of Qatar's map and designed to resemble a fingerprint), a 5 m tall Observatory hill (with beautiful views across the cities), a kids playground and a host of art installations created by local artists. The park also offers a 1.4 km jogging/running track, a 1.1 km cycling track (also good for rollerblading), and a free-to-use fitness park.
Heading north again to Katara Metro Station, you alight at Katara Cultural Village, one of Qatar’s most popular tourist destinations. The journey from Oqba ibn Nafie Metro Station is just over twenty minutes.
Katara Cultural Village was built and designed to reflect and celebrate Qatari and other global cultures and offer a venue for multicultural activities such as international, regional and local festivals, workshops, performances and exhibitions. To that end, Katara is built around a village of traditional-style buildings and streets, home of art galleries, a museum, an opera house and other cultural institutions. However, there is much more to Katara than that…
Your first port of call from the station is 21 High Street, an air-conditioned outdoor promenade lined on either side by Romanesque buildings housing luxury shops and high-end eateries. Behind the promenade, you can find a designer children's mall built to look like a giant gift-wrapped present. However, if you want more culture and less couture, a plaza at the end of the high street leads to the cool, shaded streets of the village. Here you can find the art galleries, take a wander through the Arab Postal Stamp Museum, admire the beautiful blue mosque (with a facade made up of blue and gold Persian and Turkish tiles), the dazzling gold mosque (decorated with gold tiles), pigeon towers (traditional dovecote structures with holes and perches for pigeons) and, the piece de resistance, a colossal and awe-inspiring greek-style amphitheatre. You can sit in the open-air theatre admiring the views of Katara beach and promenade, the Gulf Sea and the skyscrapers of West Bay beyond, or take centre stage and test the fabulous acoustics. Whichever, this building and the views from it are truly outstanding. Down to the promenade, you can check out the various public art sculptures - Gandhi's Three Monkeys and the Force of Nature II - and walk by the ocean.
If you're feeling peckish, there are some fantastic cafes and restaurants on the promenade or at 21 High Street. Tasty Street, an area full of food outlets and kiosks, also sells a variety of delicious bites. You can head back to the station through Katara Green Hills, a green space on the hill overlooking the village, the ocean, the Pearl, West Bay, and the surrounding area.
Image: Sven Hansche
From Oqba Ibn Nafie Metro Station, you can head north to The Pearl, Doha's luxury man-made island, via Legtaifiya Metro Station. The Metro journey takes a little over twenty-five minutes. On arrival at Legtaifiya, you need to hop on a free Metrolink bus to reach The Pearl’s various locales - the M152 services Qanat Quartier and the M110 services Porto Arabia.
The Pearl is a luxury island designed to reflect a slice of the Mediterranean blended with traditional Arabian architecture. The isle comes complete with high-end residential precincts, a marina, beaches, promenades, plazas, boutique shops and a multitude of cafes and restaurants. Arriving in Porto Arabia, you can walk around the circular marina on wide, peaceful promenades admiring the yachts and the surrounding architecture whilst window shopping in the many boutiques and specialist shops along the way. Dotted with palm trees and interspersed with numerous bridges spanning crystal clear water in canals below, the walk makes you feel like you are on vacation. A trip to Qanat Quartier will make you feel even more so. Designed on a canal system similar to Venice, with footbridges connecting each mini island to the other, Qanat Quartier is a world away from everyday life. You can wander the streets admiring the brightly coloured houses and exploring plazas, sit outside at one of the many cafes and restaurants for breakfast or morning refreshments, and even find a replica of the famous Venetian bridge, the Rialto.
You can walk or take a water taxi between Porto Arabia and Qanat Quartier. Taxis are available every 20 minutes from 9 am to 11 pm. The journey takes 10 minutes and costs QAR 80 per single trip - tickets can be bought on board or at the Ronautica office at Tower 1.
The final stop on this whirlwind tour from Al Thumama is Lusail Metro Station, travelling for around 34 minutes on the Red Line, north of Oqba Ibn Nafie Metro Station, to visit Lusail Stadium - the largest of Qatar's FIFA 2022 World Cup stadiums.
Lusail Stadium is a short walk from the metro station - unmissable on the horizon as it rises from the ground, towering above its surroundings, contrasting with the blue sky, and shining brightly as its facade catches the light of the sun - as the light hits the aged-metallic panels the stadium appears to be made of solid gold - it is a spectacle to behold. Designed to emulate a fusion of Arabian crafts, the stadium’s gently curved sides follow the shape of a traditional handmade bowl. Though, in the aftermath of the 2022 tournament, the stadium’s 80,000 seats will be reduced and the venue partially converted into a community hub (housing shops, cafes, a school, medical and sports facilities, and new homes in the upper tier of the arena, with terraces looking out onto the pitch space below), the iconic facade will remain for visitors to admire into the future. When you’ve finished taking the many photographs this venue demands, there are plenty more sights to visit in the surrounding area.
You can find Lusail Boulevard directly south and a short walk from the stadium. The super wide street runs in a straight line from the Al Khor Coastal Road to the sea, with ultra-modern buildings and tree-lined pathways on either side. The avenue is full of sights and attractions, including giant 3D screens on the facades of some buildings, street fountains, and a host of art installations, such as the 30 m Al Nehem Whale installation suspended over the road between four giant towers. You can find plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops all along the boulevard and a promenade walk at the seaward end. Further south, you can visit the Place Vendome Mall - a luxurious shopping destination inspired by Paris's Rue de la Paix, Lusail Marina and promenade, with pathways for walking, cycling and jogging, garden areas, kids’ play areas, various water features and an array of eateries, and Al Maha Island - an entertainment and leisure isle, with a myriad of high-end restaurants and cafes, a beach club, and Lusail Winter Wonderland - an outdoor winter theme park with over fifty rides and attractions. To the north, you can visit Qetaifan Island North, another leisure and entertainment destination, which, once complete, will feature a water park, beach club, park and retail zone.
For more information about the stadium and the additional sights and attractions in the vicinity, check out the following article:
Since the Metro is likely to be your main mode of transport post-Al Thumama visit, read our How To - Use The Doha Metro for more travel information on the Metro network, ticketing operating hours and Metrolink and Metro Express services.
Main image: GDA
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