Top Restaurants that are Open During Ramadan in Doha

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Political upheaval aside, is it just me or have things been a little quiet around here lately? Not that I'm complaining, I genuinely do enjoy the Ramadan period in Doha and the chance it gives me to slow the pace down and sort my life out a bit. Now that we've hit the halfway point in the holy month, however, then chances are if you are not fasting then you'll be on the hunt for restaurants that are still open so that you can enjoy something good to eat.

While most restaurants in Qatar only open after sunset this month, there are several that remain open during the day, although their hours may have changed a little.

I have already covered my top picks for Iftar and Sohour, but here are my top restaurants that are remaining open for other meals during the month of Ramadan.

Quick Bites, Marriott Marquis

This light and bright cafe is always popular, but during Ramadan it is positively rammed - and for good reason. From their excellent breakfast menu (which includes dishes from around the world, such as traditional egg dishes and Shakshouka, tasty Huevos Rancheros with refried beans and Sweetcorn Fritters), to their excellent flatbreads and 'make your own' salads, Quick Bites offers a little bit of anything that takes your fancy at any time of day.

Open: Daily, 6am - 7pm

Don't miss: The delicious Ricotta Hotcakes with glazed figs, honeycomb and Chantilly Cream. You can catch them before the restaurant closes for breakfast orders at 11.30 during the week, and 3pm at weekends.

Elements, The Four Seasons

One of my favourite (and certainly one of the best value) business lunches remains open throughout Ramadan and I'm not ashamed to admit that my family have visited twice in two weeks. After our last visit, Mr Sunshine said, "I would literally go to Elements every day if I could justify it" (I told him he was EleMENTAL but truth be told, if we didn't have a child, we might actually be able to!). The Som Tam is fresh and authentic, the Chicken Shui Jiao full of flavour and the Pecan Chocolate Cake is surprisingly light and moreish. At QAR 95 for three courses, you're laughing.

Open: Daily, 12pm - 3pm

Don't miss: The juicy Rosemary Roasted Chicken, which reminds me of home

W Cafe, W Hotel

For breakfast, a light afternoon snack, or just a really good coffee, then the W Cafe is always a good idea. Tucked away discreetly at the back of the W Hotel, its lively and bright interiors are a welcome retreat from the summer heat. Our family tend to use the cafe as a meeting point, so many different meals and snacks have been enjoyed here at various times of day, but it's criminal to leave without ordering one of their signature cakes...or three.

Don't forget that Doha staples Market and La Spiga are also open next door if you fancy a meal which packs a little more punch.

Open: Daily, 9am - 12 midnight

Don't miss: The W Cafe Afternoon Tea which includes some of the best scones this side of the Persian Gulf

Cafe Murano, Marsa Malaz Kempinski

I was really surprised when my friend who works at the Marsa Malaz messaged me to let me know that Cafe Murano was open throughout Ramadan and has excellent pasta and burgers on the menu. I had previously only associated this beautiful cafe, with its stunning artwork and lavish soft furnishings, with coffee and cake (excellent coffee and cake, nonetheless). Naturally, I had to head over there to sample these new discoveries for myself. If you are a sucker for a larger than life, juicy beef or chicken burger then Cafe Murano might just become one of your favourite places in Doha this Ramadan.

Open: Daily, 6:30am - 6:30pm

Don't miss: The 200g Black Angus Big Beef Burger with Swiss Cheese and BBQ Sauce


There are many reasons why Nobu is my favourite restaurant in Doha. From the architecture to the interiors, the rooftop views to the thoughtful attention to detail in the menu, this is not just a special occasion restaurant, but a once in a lifetime one.

The sushi and sashimi selection is not only one of the broadest in the city, but it is, in my opinion, by far the best. The innovative dishes that have been curated by Chef Nobuyaku Matsuhia, and are overseen by Doha's Chef de Cuisine, Andrew Bozoki, include Lobster and Artichoke Salad with Dry Miso which is a delicious balance of flavours and textures; the King Crab Three Ways which creatively takes one main ingredient and makes it sing in a trio of different ways; and the Mochi Icecream in blueberry and matcha, which are the most moreish little parcels, and the perfect way to round off your meal.

While most of Doha's best fine dining restaurants close their doors this month, Nobu remains resolutely open, and for that, the foodies of Doha are incredibly grateful.

Open: Daily, 6:30pm - 11:30pm

Don't miss: Where to start?! Try not to miss anything on this menu if you can help it. But it would be criminal if you walked away without ordering the Nagasaki Tuna or Sea Bass Sashimi, the Rock Shrimp or the famous Black Cod.

Which great restaurants are open during Ramadan that I've missed?

Ramadan in Doha: My Pick of the Iftars 2017

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Having lived in Qatar for three years now, and remained in the country for the duration of each Ramadan, I have joined my friends and family on numerous occasions, and in numerous different settings, for Iftar. I've come to love this time of year, when, whether fasting or not, we can all partake in Islamic culture and tradition by coming together to eat and socialise after the sun has set.

Dozens of Iftars later, and I'm starting to get a flavour for what makes a Ramadan tent memorable. From great entertainment and atmosphere, to family-friendly touches, and of course, an array of excellent food, each of the tents on this list are equally as worthy of a shout-out, albeit for different reasons.

While some indelible favourites from last year's list remain, there are also a few newcomers for 2017...

Best traditional atmosphere

Intercontinental Doha The City

If you are looking for a traditional, Middle Eastern vibe then this is the Ramadan tent to head to this year. Much like last year, the Al Jawhara Ramadan Oasis is a delicious blend of sumptuous fabrics, rich colours and ornate decorations, with live Tounora shows and traditional music playing from 9pm onwards for Sohour. The various stations dotted around the tent offer a variety of traditional dishes from around the region, and there is an Arabic dessert buffet on offer like no other.

Favourite dish: The melt-in-the-mouth lamb kabsa with mint and jasmine sauce
Iftar: QAR 195
Sohour: QAR 195

Best live cooking stations

The Westin 

The beautiful set-up of this tent is inspired by an Arabian Food Bazaar, and features several live cooking stations constructed to look like market stalls, offering everything from Shakshuka to Pad Thai, and traditional Ouzi to Turkish street food. If you're looking for something a little different to your standard buffet, then you will really enjoy this Iftar. It also features the largest date and chocolate display in Doha, and a very friendly-looking camel!

Favourite dish: The delicious tacos from the Mexican stall. Olé!
Iftar: QAR 195
Sohour: QAR 220

Best variety

Marsa Malaz Kempinski

Once again, the palatial Iftar at the Marsa Malaz surpasses all others when it comes to the choice and quantity of food. The hotel has over TWO HUNDRED dishes on offer from fifteen different cuisines from around the world, including live sushi, wok, shawarma and pasta stations; plentiful salads and carvery meats; clay pot Arabic dishes and curries; Mezzes from Al Sufra; and a vast selection of sweets, including some of Cafe Murano's delectable specialities. If variety is the spice of life, then the Marsa Malaz is bringing the heat this Ramadan.

Favourite dish: The fresh sushi, made on the spot by the dedicated sushi chef.
Iftar: QAR 240
Sohour: QAR 290

Best for a private affair

Marriott Marquis City Center

The Marriott Marquis' Wanassa tent offers diners something different this Ramadan. Instead of mood lighting in a shadowy pavilion, you can expect a bright and upbeat ambience, with exquisite decor and attention to detail. This is the place to come if you want to dine in privacy, as the tent has no less than 18 private majilises, complete with a beautifully set formal dinner table, sofas, soft furnishings and TV sets reeling off relaxing scenes. Don't forget to say hello to the Turkish icecream seller while you are there - he's a bit of a comedian!

Favourite dish: The succulent rib of beef
Iftar: QAR 210
Sohour: Á la carte

Best overall experience for the entire family

The Four Seasons Hotel

I have nothing but glowing praise for the Four Seasons' Ramadan Tent, which is set in their Al Mirqab Ballroom. The traditional Arabic cuisine is beautifully done, the international cuisine varied and plentiful, the live cooking stations fun and interesting, and everything I tasted was delicious. Importantly, the service was also on point, despite it being a busy night when I attended.

The whole family will remain entertained throughout your meal as Jové Club have taken up residence throughout the duration of Ramadan, to provide a dedicated playroom for the children. Oh, and those of you that are familiar with the chocolate shawarma stand will be pleased to hear that it is back this year by popular demand!

Favourite dish: Difficult to choose, but that dreamy and unique chocolate shawarma just about pips it!
Iftar: QAR 235
Sohour: QAR 270

Best of the rest...

There are a few Iftars that have received glowing praise from my fellow foodie friends and bloggers alike, but which I haven't had a chance to check out yet. Here are the best of the rest, and why I'll definitely be visiting for an Iftar or two before the holy month comes to an end.

W Hotel

The W's Ramadan tent is always a hit, but this year's Sultan's Tent looks particularly exciting, as Chef Narwal Al Sayed has his own live cooking station dedicated to the very best of Qatari cuisine. 

City Centre Rotana 

The Almas Ramadan Tent has some of the best offers and promotions in the city, with incredible discounts for group bookings.

Ritz Carlton 

The Ramadan tent at the Ritz Carlton is always one of my favourites and I'm disappointed that I haven't had a chance to attend yet this Ramadan The theme of this year's tent sounds particularly inspiring, based on traditional Qatari heritage. I can't wait to see it for myself!

Doha Marriott

Because I love the Marriott's Street Food brunch so much, I know that I am going to enjoy this Iftar, which is based on a similar theme. Live cooking stations and plenty of variety is the essence of this tent, with a relaxed and upbeat vibe.

St Regis

As always, the St Regis offers guests not just one, but two Ramadan tents: The Souq in the Grand Ballroom, and Layaly Ramadan in the Al Gassar Ballroom. Combined, these tents cover over 3,000 sqm of space, with displays that are as sumptuous as they are elegant.

Intercontinental Doha

Coral plays host to Iftar, while The Shahrazad Tent, located in the Intercon's Al Wajba Ballroom is the location of Sohour, with decor inspired by the magical settings of 'One Thousand and One Nights'. I'll be heading along because the Intercontinental knows how to do a really good buffet (and I wouldn't mind trying my hand at winning one of the daily prizes hotel stay anyone?!).

 Picture courtesy of Intercontinental Doha

Where would you recommend to enjoy Iftar in Doha this year?
I was a guest of the above hotels for Iftar, but as always all views are my own.

What To Do On A Short Layover In Doha

Thursday, 1 June 2017

One of the best things about being an expat is getting the opportunity to give visitors from home an insight into what your country's like and how you live when they come to stay. It's even more satisfying when you live in a country like Qatar, which is an unknown entity to your average tourist. I take great pleasure in debunking a few myths and showing people just how much there is to see and do in Doha, when you scratch beneath the surface.

Excitingly, my home is about to be placed firmly on the tourist map as a number of new initiatives have been designed to position Qatar as a new stopover destination. A free transit visa launched by Qatar Tourism Authority in collaboration with Qatar Airways allows transiting passengers to enter Qatar for up to 96 hours in between flights. Over the summer months, Qatar Airways passengers are also being offered free hotel stays at some of Doha's top hotels, and if this isn't enough, a range of free tours around Doha are being offered to tourists too, to give them a taster of what the city has to offer.

So what should you do with your 96 hours in Doha? I put my tour guide skills to the test with a recent four day visit from my friend Emma (of Adventures of a London Kiwi fame) on her way through to Australia, and showed her some of my favourite Doha pastimes. Here's a snapshot of what we got up to (and a little more besides).

1. Visit the Museum of Islamic Art

As you travel from the airport to West Bay, it's likely that you'll notice the unusual boxy building, occupying its own piece of land which protudes out into the waters of the Persian Gulf. Designed by famous architect I. M. Pei (probably better-known for his glass pyramid outside of the Louvre in Paris), the Museum of Islamic Art is my favourite piece of architecture in the world, with one of the most interesting collections of artefacts that I've seen in a museum. 

Not only is it home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of Islamic artwork, spanning 1,400 years, but Alain Ducasse's famous restaurant, Idam is located on the top floor - an unmissable restaurant for a very memorable dinner.

2. Have brunch in a five star hotel

If your layover happens to be over a Friday or Saturday, then you absolutely can not miss out on brunch. Brunch in the Middle East has taken on its own meaning over the years, evolving from the late morning meal comprising of coffee and eggs that the rest of the world recognises, into a veritable feast consumed throughout the afternoon on a Friday (usually in the form of a buffet and accompanied by copious amounts of alcohol). 

You haven’t really experienced Doha until you have experienced the party atmosphere of one of its hotel brunches alongside scores of merry expats. 

Emma and I enjoyed two very contrasting brunches while she was visiting - the family-friendly, warm and welcoming 'We Love Saturday' brunch at Coral in the Intercontental Hotel, and the upbeat and lively Friday Shangtastic Brunch at the Shangri-La (look out for upcoming blog posts on both of these post-Ramadan).

For an iconic Doha brunch experience, you can't go wrong with the St Regis or Four Seasons brunches, and if you have children then the Ritz Carlton offers something very special for the little ones.

3. Haggle for Arabic wares at Souq Waqif

If you crave a culturally authentic experience when travelling to new cities, then a visit to Souq Waqif (the standing market) is a must. It is essentially a muddled centre of traditionally-built Qatari buildings, recently constructed on the site of a much older Souq, where you can easily get lost for hours while searching for little trinkets and hand-crafted gold jewellery or fabrics.

Emma and I quickly wandered through the hot and crowded lanes of the Souq just before she was due to catch her taxi to the airport...and then spent a panicked 40 minutes trying to locate said taxi! Hopefully the fear that she might be about to miss her connecting flight to Australia didn't put too much of a downer on the experience!! 

4. Wander through Katara Cultural Village

Katara was built to showcase Qatar’s varied cultural identity and exhibits regular art installations, music concerts and fairs. However, even when there is nothing going on, it is still a beautiful place to take a stroll. Stop at one of the restaurants for a bite, marvel at the architecture of the stunning blue-tiled mosque and its iconic dove cots or climb to the top of the sandstone Amphitheatre to admire the view. 

Don’t leave without sampling an authentic Qatari drink and snack from Karak and Chapati.

5. Head out into the desert for some dune bashing 

Outside of Doha itself, the huge expanse of the Arabian Desert stretches off to the north and to the south, and apart from the occasional settlement, it is largely remote and uninhabited. The best way to get around of course, is by 4x4, where specially-trained drivers take you far too quickly through the desert in an off-roading style known as ‘dune bashing’. 

Organised tours can combine a morning’s dune bashing with other desert activities such as camel rides, and a visit to a traditional bedouin camps, and they’re definitely worth the money.

6. Visit the Pearl for a coffee and some retail therapy

Comprising of 400 hectares of shops, restaurants and leisure facilities as well as numerous residential towers and a large marina of yachts, The Pearl Qatar is a manmade island in the shape of two inter-linked horseshoes. It is also where my apartment is located. Due to the large community of expats that reside on The Pearl, this area is the most laid back and liberal area of Qatar, and because of that, it's especially appealing to tourists.

Emma and I enjoyed strolling around the marina on a regular basis, grabbing a coffee in Qatar's best coffee shop, Flat White and taking in the sunset views across the marina.


7. Take a traditional Dhow out onto the Persian Gulf

Prior to the discovery of oil and gas, Qatar's economy was based around fishing and Pearl diving, which took place on traditional wooden boats called 'Dhows'. These days, Dhow boats are more commonly used by tourists who want to catch a glimpse of the city from a different perspective, out on the sea. 

You can grab a boat from anywhere on the Corniche near to the traditional Dhow boat harbour by the Museum of Islamic Art. Wait until night time, when all of the lights come on in the city, and the Dhows light up in neon colours for the full experience!

8. Eat, eat, and eat some more!

I have never eaten so well in my life as I do now in Doha. The hotels across the city are the best places to get your fill, providing a range of restaurants and cuisines to cater to every palette. The one thing that they all have in common is that the food they serve is really, exquisitely good!

Restaurants that you shouldn't miss: 

For fine dining you can't go wrong with the stunning architecture, excellent happy hour and faultless Japanese at Nobu; the city views, cocktails and and pan-Asian eats at Zengo; the cool vibe and modern Cantonese cuisine at Hakkasan; the refined luxury and meticulous attention to detail of Gordon Ramsay

For something a little more casual, try breakfast at Eggspectation, traditional Arabic food at N.Zain or any of the restaurants in Souq Waqif.

I hope this little guide will help you when planning your layover in Doha. If you have any questions about anything mentioned above, then please don't hesitate to drop me a message below.

Safe travels!

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