July 06, 2023

Stunning Sights a Stone's Throw from 974 Stadium

One of the most epic places to find one of the FIFA 2022 World Cup stadiums was in Ras Abu Aboud. Located on the waterfront of the Persian Gulf - which glistens brilliantly under the desert sun, 974 Stadium offered fans some of the best views in Doha. From the shoreline at the stadium, guests could see for miles across and past Doha Bay to The Pearl, taking in the Old Port, Box Park, the Corniche and West Bay along the way. However, as beautiful as the scenery was and still is, the stadium was equally awe-inspiring. The arena, built from 974 brightly-coloured recycled shipping containers, was unlike any other in the world - its unusual design and construction materials, for one, but also the fact that it was the world's first demountable stadium. Indeed, 974 Stadium, now the 2022 World Cup tournament has closed, will cease to exist in its current format. The venue will be dismantled and reassembled elsewhere where sports infrastructure is lacking.

So, if you are going to check out this 'world-first', now is the time. But, if you're visiting this awesome venue before it's gone, why not spend a little more time investigating some of the other fantastic sights and attractions in the area?

In this article, we'll give you the lowdown on 974 and some of the top tourist attractions nearby, so read on to find out more…

974 Stadium

Located on the coast, 974 Stadium currently sits adjacent to Hamad International Airport, 10 km from the city centre. The stadium's location is easily accessible by road and on the Gold Line of the Metro; the nearest Metro station is the Ras Abu Abboud Station.

974 Stadium was Qatar's most innovative and pioneering in terms of its design and construction. With repurposed shipping containers forming the main building blocks of the venue, constructed around a steel frame and assembled to house most of the stadium's functions and facilities, the entire stadium can now be dismantled and reassembled elsewhere, giving it an entirely temporary nature. Compared to traditional stadium construction, the clever use of containers and other prefabricated and modular components required fewer building materials, produced less waste, reduced construction duration, saved time and costs, and reduced the overall carbon footprint. The entire concept brought a new level of sustainability and innovation to stadium design. A first for the World Cup and, more importantly, a global benchmark for future events, this 40,000+ seat stadium literally paved the way for future sustainable stadium construction.

The remaining complex will be redesigned as a waterfront venue when the stadium is eventually dismantled. A host of shops, restaurants, cafes and green spaces will be provided for visitors and locals to enjoy in a stunning location on the water's edge. Until then, check out these attractions close by:

Nearby Sights and Attractions

974 stadium is located on the coast on the outskirts of the capital, Doha. While there are attractions in the stadium’s immediate vicinity, just one Metro stop journey takes you to the beginning of the city centre. So, if you have some free time, there are also a host of places to visit without having to venture too far:

974 Beach

Image: qatar2022

The most accessible attraction to the 974 Stadium is the beach. Located just 100m from the stadium, 974 Beach is a long thin stretch of golden sand that delightfully wraps around the stadium precinct. With views of the ocean and the cityscape beyond, the beach is a stunning location to relax and watch the world.

However, 974 Beach has much more to offer than its sandy shores, amazing views and crystal clear waters. There are over a kilometre of winding pathways, rocky waterside areas full of crabs and other fascinating creatures to explore, grassed areas for picnics, plenty of seating and a beautiful viewpoint at the beach's headland. The viewpoint is also the location of one of Doha's public artworks, the Doha Mountains. The art piece, courtesy of Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, comprises five 'mountains', each constructed by placing five giant and brightly-coloured rocks, one on top of the other. The stones, coloured in the same colours as the Olympic rings, represent the nation's commitment to sport now and in the future. A cafe, restaurant and several kiosk-style eateries provide refreshments, and bathrooms, showers and prayer rooms provide more practical amenities. On the beach, visitors can use loungers, a beach park with swings, a defined swimming area, sports facilities such as volleyball and football courts, and banana boats (for a fee).

The beach, located so close to the stadium, is easy to get to…just remember to bring your swimsuit!

The Corniche

Image: SvenHansche/Shutterstock.com

A great place to spend time in Qatar is along Doha's Corniche. The Corniche is the city's 7 km waterfront promenade that runs from the National Museum of Qatar in the south, around Doha Bay, to West Bay in the north and is a delight to traverse. To get to the Corniche, jump on the Metro at Ras Bu Abboud and head west on the Gold Line to Msheireb Station, then take the Red Line north two stops to the Corniche Metro Station. Head east from the Metro station through Umbrella Park to get to the Corniche. On the way, you'll discover air-conditioned floral archways covered in a myriad of colourful umbrellas, plants and flowers. If you are looking for a picturesque start to your Corniche explorations, this is a ticked box and an Instagram gem. 

The Corniche walkway, built in the mid to late 20th century, has developed over the years into a hub for city dwellers, whose daily activities include walking, jogging, fishing, picnicking, and socialising. And no wonder! The Corniche, against a backdrop of clear blue skies and the glistening waters of the Gulf, dotted with traditional wooden boats, and bordered by grassy areas, fig palms, sculptures and artworks, traditional-style buildings and the towering skyscrapers of West Bay, is a beautiful place to spend time. The promenade is full of iconic landmarks, activities, and sights from one end to the other, including the Amiri Diwan (seat of the Government), the national theatre, Dhow Harbour, the traditional market of Souq Waqif, the beautiful Fanar mosque, and a multitude of parks and museums, such as the Museum of Islamic Art and the National Museum of Qatar. 

If there is one thing we recommend while wandering along the Corniche, it is to take a Dhow ride. Dhows, traditional Qatari wooden boats, are a remnant of the country's days as a maritime nation when fishermen and pearl divers traded along the coast in such wooden vessels. Though modern times, since the discovery of oil and gas, have seen a decline in sea trade and so the need for working Dhows, Qatar has restored many old boats to preserve the country's culture and tradition, and many of those boats now offer sea cruises to visitors and residents. Most Dhow cruises depart from the pier in front of the Museum of Islamic Art. You can rent passage on a Dhow around the bay and view the city from the water, or go on a three- to four-hour nighttime Dhow cruise with food, traditional music and entertainment. During the day, you can check out some of the city's coastal architecture - from old iconic structures like the Sheraton Grand Hotel to the modern Museum of Islamic Arts and the futuristic towers of Westbay. In the evening, a BBQ feast with authentic local dishes and Qatari hospitality onboard a Dhow and seeing the city light up as the light fades is the perfect way to end the day. 

The Metro offers transport to various locations along the Corniche. However, it's just as easy and more aesthetically pleasing to potter up and down the Corniche to see the different sights and attractions.

National Museum of Qatar

Image: HasanZaidi/Shutterstock.com

Located on the Corniche, the National Museum of Qatar is built of colossal interlocking sand-coloured disks designed to resemble the desert rose crystal found in desert regions. The museum's construction is so different from any other building in Qatar that it is awe-inspiring and mind-boggling to behold - a true architectural wonder. Fortunately, inside there are just as many marvels.

Once inside, visitors are taken on a captivating journey, from more than 700 million years ago to the present and future, through 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. 

Depicting Qatar's history, the museum exhibits over eleven galleries. However, the galleries aren't just full of standard glass-housed displays. Approximately 8,000 artefacts, including a life-sized model of a whale shark, reconstructed archaeological artefacts, traditional costumes, and a Bedouin tent, are displayed in fun and novel ways. The museum brings those displays to life using innovative audio-visual techniques, interactive technologies, and the creative use of sensory elements, such as evocative aromas, lighting, images, music, sounds and all-encompassing 360o floor to ceiling film projections, testimonials, films and poetry. 

Children are also made wholly welcome throughout the museum and are taken on an educational journey through play. Six pods in the museum and three play areas outside, specifically designed for families and kids, incorporate fun, educational games and activities in digital and physical format, allowing youngsters to explore the themes covered in the main galleries in a hands-on, interactive way.

After you reach the end of the final gallery, you are directed to the museum's gardens. Within the gardens is a restored palace, originally built in the 1900s, and home of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, one of modern Qatar's early rulers. Having explored one of the finest museums in Qatar, the gardens and lawns are perfect for a picnic, and the public art dotted around the site is an added bonus to investigate.

The museum, located on Museum Park Street, is easily accessible by foot from the Corniche or by car, taxi and Metro. The nearest Metro station is the National Museum Station on the Gold Line. A large car park with covered and underground parking is available.

Access to the museum is free to all Qatari residents (with a valid Qatar ID card) and children under 16 years. Non-resident adult visitors are charged QAR 50, and all non-resident students QAR 25. If you are a Qatar Museums One pass holder, then admission is free (for information on the One pass, check out the Qatar Creates website).

The museum is open Saturday to Thursday, 9 am - 7 pm, and Friday, 1:30 pm - 7 pm. However, the venue's four cafes and restaurants operate under their own time schedule. For further information, contact the museum on:

Tel: +974 4452 5555

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.nmoq.org.qa

Social Media: @NMOQatar

Museum of Islamic Art

Image: FitriaRamli/Shutterstock.com

Another top spot on the Corniche and not far from 974 Stadium is the beautiful Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) and MIA Park. The museum, opened in 2008 and designed by the late, great Chinese/American architect I.M. Pei., who also created the Louvre in Paris, France, is an artwork itself. Five floors of ascending geometric blocks that culminate in a central tower dominate the skyline and, made from pale limestone, catch the sun's light throughout the day. Set inside the grounds of the museum park, surrounded by the sparkling blue waters of the Gulf Sea and overlooking West Bay's skyscraper-filled panorama, MIA's location is equally as stunning.

The museum houses one of the world's most extensive Islamic art collections from the 7th century to more recent eras. The museum's galleries, which surround the central atrium and are connected via floating bridges, play host to collections of over 18,000 artefacts. Exhibitions include paintings, manuscripts, calligraphy, pottery, glassware, tiles, metalwork, textiles and jewellery from across three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) and from over 40 countries as far and wide as Iran, Central Asia, Egypt, Syria, Turkey and India. The museum also houses a library open to the public with nine study rooms containing specialist books on Islamic art and art from other genres. Visitors can also enjoy refreshments at the museum cafe overlooking the Gulf or pick up some souvenirs in the gift shop.

At 28 hectares, MIA Park is the second-largest green space on the Corniche, and it is a fabulous place to spend some downtime when not exploring the museum. The park, which curls around the museum, creating a small bay beside the building and extending out into the sea, is occupied by two open-air cafes that look across the water to West Bay - providing one of the nicest views in the city. Palm tree-lined paths lead visitors through the grounds to picnic areas, water fountains, planted gardens, two huge children's playgrounds, a large grassy hill, an 80 ft tall art installation by Richard Serra, and to the Museum of Islamic Art Museum itself.

The museum, located next to Dhow Harbour, is easily accessible by foot from the Corniche or by car, taxi and Metro. If travelling by car, limited car parking spaces are available at the museum, but there is plenty of other local parking, such as the three-floor basement parking at Souq Waqif, which is a short walk from the museum entrance. The nearest Metro station is the Souq Waqif stop on the Gold Line.

Access to the museum is free to all Qatari residents (with a valid Qatar ID card) and children under 16 years. Non-resident adult visitors are charged QAR 50, and all non-resident students QAR 25. If you are a Qatar Museums One pass holder, then admission is free (for information on the One pass, check out the Qatar Creates website).

The museum is open Saturday to Thursday, 9 am - 7 pm, and Friday, 1:30 pm - 7 pm. For further information, contact the museum on: 

Tel: +974 4422 4444

Email: [email protected]

Web: https://www.mia.org.qa/en/

Instagram: @miaqatar

Souq Waqif

Image: FitriaRamli/Shutterstock.com

Souq Waqif is one of the best places near 974 Stadium to experience traditional Qatari architecture and the buzzing atmosphere of old-style Middle Eastern bazaars. Located a stone's throw from the Corniche promenade, the souq can trace its roots back to the 17th century. Today's market was reconstructed in 2006, in keeping with the original design, layout and architecture of the venue's last 100 years, and is one of the most popular places in the city to visit, especially in the evening. 

The souq is a vibrant labyrinth of narrow alleyways, with low traditional buildings and shops on either side selling a multitude of wares and services, from clothing, fabric shops and tailors to shops selling trinkets and souvenirs. You can find a Gold Souq, a spice market, a Falcon Souq, oil and perfume shops, art galleries, and even a theatre in the hidden alleyways. You could easily spend hours exploring the tiny passageways and shops, watching Qatari men play Dama (a traditional board game), and taking photographs of the beautiful architecture, colourful fabrics and wares, and the melee of people. 

Along the main strip through the market, where the streets are wider, you can find an array of cafes and restaurants (serving traditional fare to European and beyond), souvenir shops and boutique hotels. And on the edges of the market, you can find camel and horse stables, a play park for children, shops selling local dates and honey, and an underground Novo cinema decked out in traditional Qatari style. There is also a central square for events and activities - various festivals are celebrated at the souq during the year, which often involves traditional displays of singing, dancing and music. From the souq, you can even see the adjacent Fanar Cultural Centre. The circular mosque (and cultural centre), with its spiralling minaret that lights up at night and creates a stunning spectacle against the dark sky, is one of Doha's most photographed sights. 

The souq, which sits adjacent to the Amiri Diwan on Abdullah Bin Jassim Street, is easily accessible by foot from the Corniche or by car, taxi and Metro. The souq is a five-minute walk from Souq Waqif Metro Station on the Gold Line. Drivers to the market can leave their cars in the souq's underground parking facility.

The souq is usually open Saturday to Thursday, 8 am – 12:30 pm, 3 – 10 pm and 3 – 10 pm on Fridays. During the World Cup, establishments throughout the market can stay open for up to 24 hours daily.

Al Bidda Park

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One of the nicest places along the Corniche to spend some downtime is Al Bidda Park, one of the largest green spaces in Doha. The park's 200 hectares run alongside the city's oceanfront Corniche, from the Amiri Diwan, the office and workplace of the Amir of Qatar, north towards West Bay, making for spectacular views. The green panorama of the park contrasts with the blue sky, the glimmering sea and the impressive skyscraper cityscape of West Bay. 

Aside from some of the best views in the city, the park offers a plethora of walking, running and cycling tracks; open-air gymnasiums (including a women's only gym); tennis, volleyball and basketball courts (all available free of charge); and seven kids playgrounds. The playgrounds have a host of equipment to suit different age ranges, including sand pits and clamber-on toys, swings in various sizes, see-saws, climbing frames, slides, interactive activities and, in some cases, zip slides. And, if that were not enough to keep the kids amused, there is a green maze to explore, areas for freestyle sports such as skateboarding and skating, and bike and go-cart hire shops. You can also find natural rock structures to clamber on, a green wadi, monuments, heritage sites, an amphitheatre, three garden bridges (located over the main roads that intersect the park) and a water plaza to investigate. 

The park is also home to various cafes, restaurants and food kiosks. Though barbequing stations, set into grassy mounds like Hobbit houses, are available across the park - perfect for an evening grilling and chilling while the kids play. The grassy mounds provide some privacy and are each complete with a table, benches and a bin. And finally, seating, shaded areas and pathways, and evening lighting are provided too. 

There is so much to do and so many different terrains and features to explore at Al Bidda that everyone will enjoy this destination. Even the family dog will be at home in Al Bidda as the park is pet friendly.

Al Bidda Park is easily accessed on foot from the Corniche. For drivers, the park's various underground parking entrances can be reached via Al Istiqlal Street, Al Rayyan Road and Al Corniche. Visitors can also reach the park via Corniche Station on the Red Line or Al Bidda Station on the Red and Green Lines.

Main image: SKSLPhototgraphy/Shutterstock.com

Published: November 29, 2022
Last updated: July 06, 2023
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