Doha is sometimes characterized as a vast construction site without history or art, but the truth is that Qatar’s capital is making a significant effort to boost its art scene. The Museum of Islamic Art, Arab Museum of Modern Art, QM Gallery Al Riwaq (known for having hosted a Damien Hirst retrospective), and Katara Art Center (showcasing local and international visual art), are just a few examples of the arts blooming in Qatar. Classical music also enjoys prominence, with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra boasting highly trained musicians from over 30 countries.
Doha hosts numerous festivals, most of which take place November through March. The most important religious celebration is Ramadan, the holy fasting month, followed by Eid al Fitr, the festival marking Ramadan’s end. The entire city is illuminated and beautifully decorated, and families, friends, and loved ones gather in parks, food joints, and shopping malls to celebrate. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, Ramadan takes place at a slightly different time each year in the Gregorian calendar. Other festivals to watch for include the Emir GCC Camel Race, which takes place each winter at the Shahaniya camel racetrack; National Day, on December 19, which involves equestrian shows, camel races, sword dances, a military parade, and more; the Marmi Falcon Festival, in January, which showcases the best-trained and most expensive falcons in the region; and the Spring Festival, a ten-day event held each January at Souq Waqif that includes acrobats, dolphin shows, music, dance performances, and an impressive variety of regional food.