An Insider Guide About Things to Do in Qatar in December
For a significant portion of my career, I worked in the aviation industry, specifically in a relatively unknown department known as Revenue Management — it is the area responsible for the sudden ups and downs in ticket prices (here I reveal some secrets for finding cheaper tickets).
I was fortunate to work for three years in what is regarded as the world’s five-star airline, based in Doha, Qatar.
But I won’t lie: Doha isn’t one of the most entertaining cities I’ve ever visited.
Yet, there are some interesting places there, and in this list, I will reveal to you these places.
If you plan to attend the 2022 FIFA World Cup, you should check out some of these unexpected things to do in Qatar in December.
About the World Cup, who will you support? If any of my readers will be cheering for Brazil with me, tell me in the comments 🙂
But first, let’s discuss why the FIFA World Cup will be held in December (during the winter), rather than in the summer, as is customary.
Qatar Weather During Winter
Qatar is excruciatingly hot for nearly half of the year. I experienced temperatures over 50 degrees celsius. This is hot enough to endanger your life if you stay outside for too long.
As a result, the World Cup will be held this year in November and December, during the winter.
December is the third coldest (or less hot?) month in this country, just after January and February. Temperatures are mild and the sky is frequently clear, making it a spring-like season by European standards. Lows are in the 14/17 °C (57/63 °F) range, with highs in the 22/25 °C (72/77 °F) range.
Sounds good, right?
Time to give you the list of things to do in Qatar in December (or during winter).
1 — Visit the Souq Waqif
During the winter, you should visit the Souq Waqif, a traditional market in the city’s center. It is primarily open-air, so while it may be too hot in the summer, the weather is great in December.
This market has been around for over a century and sells everything from traditional clothing to spices and handicrafts. Here you may buy souvenirs and eat traditional meals.
There are some well-reviewed tour guides at the Souq Waqif who can show you the hidden gems as well as guide you through the best (and relatively inexpensive) food stalls and restaurants.
Visitors will find it convenient because of nearby metro stations and a vast underground parking garage. It’s also close to other Doha attractions and landmarks, such as the Museum of Islamic Art (more about it below).
If you want to see some local art, go to the Souq Waqif Arts Center, which has both traditional and contemporary art. The Arts Center also encourages local artists and features an area for arts & crafts.
It’s a good idea to bring along your camera. If you are hungry, there are several eateries serving a variety of cuisines.
2 — Go to Al Zubarah Fort
During December, you can visit the renowned Al Zubarah Fort in Qatar. The fort sits 100 kilometers west of Doha and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This town thrived during the early days of pearling in the Gulf. However, by the late nineteenth century, the pearl business had all but vanished. During the construction of the Suez Canal, commercial routes were curtailed, and the town population fell.
The fort is now but a relic of an extraordinary past. It comprises five rooms and rotates photo displays as well as exhibits on excavation history and natural components.
After you’ve seen the fort, you can explore the surrounding area, which includes the historic Pearl Diving Centre. Al Zubarah is a significant archaeological site as well as a piece of early Qatari history. It is completely free to visit, however, this guide will take you there comfortably and will also take you to other attractions such as the Purple Island and the mangrove forest.
3 — Discover the art of falconry by visiting the Falcon Souq
Visit the falcon souk in Qatar. You’ll get to see falcons around and tour the world’s largest falcon hospital. Falconry has deep roots in the Middle East, where pharaohs practiced it over 5000 years ago. Today, falconry is still practiced throughout the region, with various organizations formed by aficionados. Some falcons compete in beauty pageants.
The Falcon Souq is a fantastic spot to visit if you want to witness a trained falcon in action or buy an unusual gift. The Falcon Souq, located off Souq Waqif, provides a unique peek into Qatari culture. This tour with an experienced guide explores it and other attractions nearby.
4 — Visit the Museum of Islamic Art
The MIA is the world’s biggest museum dedicated to Islamic art, located in Doha, Qatar. Its permanent collection covers over 1000 years and 7,000 miles, from Spain to India. Several temporary exhibitions are also held in the museum. Through special exhibitions and educational events, visitors can learn about the art of the Muslim world. The museum’s art collection is often loaned to other museums across the world.
The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha displays artifacts from the royal family’s collection as well as dozens of pieces from its own. The museum is divided into multiple floors, the first of which houses a gift store, a coffee shop, and a special exhibition area. It also features thematic displays ranging from calligraphy and patterns to figures and decoration. The second floor is dedicated to small and handwritten Korans.
In a comfortable private car, this tour will take you through the MIA and other museums in Doha.
5 — Take a look at the view from the top of the Aspire Tower
This 300-meter tower is located in the heart of the Aspire Zone, a new development in Doha that also houses one of the World Cup stadiums. During the Asian Games in 2006, the tower became the focal point of the city. Panorama Restaurant, located on the 91st floor of the tower, offers a view from the top.
Ps: While there are plenty of things to do in Qatar in December, don’t worry about finding accommodation. There are some excellent and (surprisingly!) inexpensive hotels in Doha. You can find them below.
If you are visiting the city, there are plenty of options in terms of luggage storage, so you don’t need to walk around with your carry-on bags. Reliable, convenient, and inexpensive luggage storage services you can find at Radical Storage.
Conclusion: Things to do in Qatar in December
There are plenty of activities to keep you occupied while you’re in Qatar this December, between the games of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Check out the Souq Waqif, visit Al Zubarah Fort, learn about falconry in the Falcon Souq, visit the Museum of Islamic Art, and have a dazzling view from the top of the Aspire Tower. Don’t worry about walking in the night: Qatar is a safe place, especially if you are a man.
If you want to visit Doha after discovering the things to do in Qatar in December, I’ve written two other articles about it. One answers questions about visiting Qatar as a female (based on my wife’s and friends’ experiences), and the other discusses the issue of alcohol accessibility (hint: it is available, but it is not at the same time).
If you enjoyed reading about things to do in Qatar in December, check also:
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Levi Borba is the founder of The Expatriate Consultancy, creator of the channel The Expat, and best-selling author. Some of the links in the article may be affiliate links, which means the author receives a commission on any purchases made by readers.