Doha is the perfect Middle Eastern destination for anyone who wants to avoid the over the top excesses of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, whilst not waving Western culture goodbye completely. Whether you’re visiting on business or for leisure, Doha is the perfect place to spend a few days. Here’s how to make the most out of your time in the Qatari capital.

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Relax on a Dhow Cruise

There’s nothing more romantic or relaxing than enjoying a lazy boat trip around the Persian Gulf in a traditional Arabian sailing boat. You can find public cruises for around £10, near the Balhambar building. Remember to haggle if you want a bargain.

Admire some Islamic Art

The Museum of Islamic Art is considered a “must do” for visitors to Doha. It’s free to enter, and inside you’ll find a great collection of Persian rugs, Turkish mosaics, and other pieces of art which are centuries old. The ancient astrolabes are well worth a look, and you could easily spend two hours taking in all of the building’s treasures.

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Get lost in Souk Waqif

Time Out magazine calls this sprawling marketplace the most atmospheric place in Doha, and it’s certainly not to be missed. Twisting lanes bustling with people and crowded with stalls selling everything make it a feast for all the senses. Feast your eyes on colourful silks, fill your nose with the smell of exotic spices, and listen to the shouts of vendors as they haggle with customers. However, make sure you time your visit right. Due to the heat, most stalls close between 1pm and 4pm, meaning it might help to get there fairly early for a full few hours of uninterrupted shopping.

Enjoy Friday brunch

Qatari nationals and Western expats don’t tend to enjoy the same social events, but that all changes when it comes to enjoying a leisurely buffet brunch or lunch at one of Doha’s many five star hotels. Expect tasty local favourites like grilled fish, roast meat, curry, and Arab sweets; washed down with plenty of wine. Brunch is always a popular event with locals and tourists alike, so be sure to book in advance.

Get a ‘Full Gulfie’

Pampering sessions aren’t just for ladies. Men can take their metrosexuality to a whole new level in Doha by wandering into a petrol station and getting a haircut, pedicure, manicure, facial, and massage from a team of flunkies. Perfect for gussying up before heading out for a night on the town.

Eat slow braised camel

There’s no lack of amazing eateries in Doha, but for a really special meal visit IDAM, the Doha outpost of legendary French chef Alain Ducasse. Try the slow braised camel with foie gras for an interesting French spin on a Middle Eastern staple. Other must tries are the hummous laced with gold, and the rose flavoured marshmallows with sugared kumquats. It can be quite pricey, so save this one for a special occasion.