leisure activities in the desert
Updated 4 months ago

Although Qatar is a relatively small country, there are still plenty to do and see outside of the capital city if you wanted a short day trip.

Desert Safaris

If you wish to explore the desert in Qatar, you can rent a 4 x 4 car or arrange a tour. You will be able to visit the UNESCO heritage site, the inland sea, and visit the singing sand dunes. On a clear day, you can see across to the Saudi Arabian border. If you’re an adventurous sort, you can ask your driver to drive up and down the sand dunes and go ‘dune bashing’. Trips can be arranged for a day or you can also camp overnight (with all basic amenities such as showers and bathrooms provided). Desert safaris tend to start near Messaied, where there are also a number of activities to choose from. There are several companies offering special tours like this that can be found easily online.

Sealine in Messaied

The Sealine resort in Messaied is around an hour away from Doha and is a standalone hotel and beach resort in its own right. You can also use the facilities for a day pass without having to stay overnight. Opposite the resort, there are opportunities to go for camel rides and to hire quad bikes. This is also the starting point for the desert safari treks and where the drivers will deflate their tires to drive over the sand.  

Historical Sites

There are many monuments, forts, and museums outside of the capital that can be visited.

Al Zubarah fort is located on the North West coast of the country and is around a 90-minute drive from Doha. The fort was built in the 1930s but is surrounded by the remains of a once thriving Gulf merchant town from the 18th century.

The area of Zekreet has many interesting activities, including a village nicknamed by locals as ‘Film City’ created for a TV series that is now abandoned. There are also the remains of an 18th Century village nearby as well as the remains of a fort. There are also excellent areas to camp overnight and secluded coves and beaches nestled amongst limestone cliffs.

A special mention should also be given to the Al Jassasiya rock carvings.  These are a unique collection of almost 1000 petroglyphs and rock carvings that date back to Neolithic times. Facilities and supervision are limited on-site depending on the time of year.

If you are interested in other historical and archaeological sites in Qatar, there are many other forts that can be visited but facilities are relatively limited on site. Other sites of interest include:

Furayhah, Ruwayda, Al Thaqab, Al Huwaila, Al Koot, Umm Salal Mohammed and Al Wajbah.


There are several museums to visit outside of the city.

The Museum of Al Khor which is dedicated to anthropology and has artefacts dating from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. The Wakra Museum has special exhibits about natural history and marine life, and the Armament Museum which includes a wide collection of daggers, swords, guns and other military accessories, located in Allakta.


Nature lovers, for their part, can explore picturesque villages in a magnificent scenery, especially in the coastal regions. The surroundings of Al Thakira and Purple Island host beautiful mangroves and areas for fishing. You can hire kayaks and swim amongst the mangroves as well as explore the unique marine habitats of the area.


Qatar has some 700 kilometres of coastline, including exotic beaches such as Khor Edid beach which is found in the South-east. On the way to Shamal, you can visit the Al Ghariya Beach which is surrounded by a hotel and an old abandoned village.

Al Thakhira Beach, Dukhan Beach, Fuwairit Beach (famous for turtle migration and nesting), Meisaieed Beach, Salwa Beach, among others, are also very popular. Moreover, the Sheikh's Palace Beach, located near Umm Bab and Dukhan villages, include a former palace on a hill. Note, however, that most beaches are not yet developed. But you can still make a picnic, take a swim or even spend the night there provided you have the necessary equipment.


There are also numerous opportunities for diving in Qatar, with several clubs located in

Doha. Regular dives take place and a number of reefs and wrecks are dotted around the coastline.

 Useful links:

Explore Qatar
Off Beat Qatar
Discover Qatar

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