Stunning contemporary architecture in Doha

Skyline of Doha

When we arrived early in the morning, Doha was shrouded in fog. But an hour later we stand at the Corniche and look up at the towers of “City Center”. This northern part of the bay is several kilometres away from the old town but has been built up as the Doha skyline with dozens of high-rise buildings including such signature skyscrapers as the Burj Qatar Tower by Jean Nouvel and the Tornado Tower by Robinson Pourroy. Stunning contemporary architecture in Doha!

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On the other side of the bay, the skyscraper district is complemented by a single distinctive building, the fortress-like Museum of Islamic Art designed by the famous IM Pei. Allegedly the museum has the biggest collection of Islamic art in the world, but even more fascinating is the building itself: It features an atrium with a dome inspired by islamic religious architecture and one huge multi-story window directed towards the City Centre Skyline.

Education city

Two days later our plan is to explore Education City, a newly developed quarter of the city with even more modern architecture. Actually Education City is just 2 km away from our hotel, but it seems to be surrounded by highways uncrossable for pedestrians.

Even the bus which was supposed to take us on the other side of the highway had its route changed due to the ongoing building works in the area. We end up quite close to the Convention Centre, which is the first architectural highlight on our itinerary, but on the other site of yet another uncrossable construction site. In the end we got a taxi that took us to the entrance. Thus we needed 1.5 hours for the 2 km and were in quite a bad mood when we arrived.

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Convention Center in Education City by Isozaki Araki

The convention Center is a centrepiece of the new area, built by the Japanese architect Isozaki Arata, who also designed the masterplan for Education City. Its front roof is held by two stylised Sidra trees, the traditional large shadow trees where desert dwellers would gather and exchange their stories. Inside, a lot of details are to be discovered, from fancy wall covers to a colourful pool and a giant spider by Louise Bourgeois.

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Sculpture “mammon” by Louise Bourgeois

Quite some kilometres north of this boulevard lies the Qatar’s Museum of Modern Art, which gives insights into the modern art of Arab countries not so well known in the West.

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20160121 Doha Education City Qatar FIS Moschee P1230210

The highlight of Education City, however, was the new mosque at the Center of Islamic Studies, built by Mangera Yvars, which opened in 2015. Although we saw some students, the majority of people there are still construction workers adding the finishing touches. To us it was the most impressive contemporary religious building we have ever seen and therefore deserves a blog entry of its own. So stay tuned!

Did you like this post about contemporary architecture in Doha? If so, do you sometimes specifically visit a building during your travels, even if you can only see it from the outside?

If you liked this post about modern architecture you might also enjoy our story about the Orestadt District in Copenhagen / Denmark.


  1. Visiting a building specifically – Last time we were in Vienna we walked over to see the Hundertwasser apartments, I didn’t know anything about him but from images I’d seen I just had to see this place.

  2. Did you do a tour to get inside one of the apartments? Apparently they have quite interesting features, but we have never been inside. There’s a similar Hundertwasser building in Magdeburg, and a weird train station in Uelzen.

  3. We just walked around Doha without taking a tour – at least in Education City that wasn’t such a brilliant idea because it was still largely a building site, and also Doha is not a city intended for pedestrians – no way to cross the highways. At one point we had to take a taxi just to get to the other side of the road.
    So, hopefully you do find a tour doing this!

  4. This was a great first look at what Doha might offer for sights and architectural treats. I was surprised to see the spider statue inside a building. We have seen other ones in other cities around the world – but all outside. The Mosque building certainly is stunning. Some great examples here of modern architecture and design.

    1. Dear Linda, Doha is an amazing destination for architecture lovers. However you have to plan your own tour and do your own research, because as far as I know there are no organized tours for that.

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