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5 Ways to Soak Up the Culture of Qatar

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5 Ways to Soak Up the Culture of Qatar
In a region known for extravagance and superlatives, Qatar stands out for its enriching cultural experiences. There’s much to explore beyond the skyscrapers of Doha — from a stunning array of art in a starchitect-designed landmark to a creative installation deep in the Qatari desert; ancient traditions like pearl diving and falconry; and a visit to an atmospheric market that looks lost in time. Sure, there’s plenty of glitz for those who seek it, but Qatar is also a culture vulture’s haven.
Sponsored by Visit Qatar
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    Enjoy Many Arts in One
    Inspired by Qatar’s architectural heritage, Katara Cultural Village features an open-air amphitheater, art galleries, and concert halls staging a lively year-round program of events. It debuted in 2010 for the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which has continued to take place here annually, and is the seat of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s also a gathering place for locals, with plenty of dining destinations, a handicraft souq, and a beachfront promenade with opportunities for water sports.
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    Learn About Falconry
    The sport of falconry dates back 5,000 years, and for many Qataris it’s a passion, not merely a pastime. Even if you aren’t ready to join in on the action during hunting season—when enthusiasts train falcons to prey on houbara bustards—you can learn more about the birds and the sport by visiting the Falcon Hospital in Souq Waqif.
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    Explore the Museum of Islamic Art
    Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art is a masterpiece itself, a striking architectural feat conceived by I.M. Pei. In just a few hours, visitors can travel through 14 centuries of work by painters, sculptors, ceramicists, and weavers from across the Islamic diaspora—from Beijing to Basra, from Delhi to Damascus. Since its 2008 opening, the MIA’s exhibitions have earned the institution accolades from around the world. Bonus: admission to the permanent galleries is free.
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    Uncover Richard Serra in the Sands
    Qatar’s art scene is not limited to institutions like the Museum of Islamic Art — the country’s landscapes also double as exhibition spaces. Art aficionados will find a wide variety of public installations by international artists across Qatar. One not to miss: American sculptor Richard Serra’s “East-West/West-East” at Zekreet, a desert in Western Qatar.
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    Take a Dhow Ride
    A look at the map makes it clear why Qatar has such a strong maritime history — the country has about 350 miles of coastline, and for years people settled mostly around the fringes of the peninsula and away from the harsh desert terrain. The shallow waters of the Persian Gulf are brimming with sharks, barracudas, and dugongs, and for generations, fishing and pearl diving was a way of life for many Qataris. Get a better understanding by boarding a traditional wooden dhow boat for a pearl-diving tour.