i’m not quite sure what to make of Katara. it’s self-described as a “cultural village” but that term evokes tourist traps that attempt to showcase traditional culture from the area by means of fake towns and actors and dioramas and shit.
but that’s not what Katara is like at all. i was hesitant to visit, despite the glowing (yet vague, and i can now understand why, reviews) since i really was not sure what to expect, but i was suitably impressed. still, i’m not sure how i would describe it. it has a grand amphitheater and more performance spaces, artist studios, boutique restaurants, a beach(!), two mosques, art galleries, headquarters of artsy organizations (e.g., the Doha Film Institute, the Doha Philharmonic, and so on), retail outlets, an opera house…O_o. how do you classify that?
what was a little off to me was that there’s this very artificial feel to it because it is new and almost Disney-fied in its perfection. it has what i imagine to be a very Qatari vibe, yet is a bit too sanitized and overly grandiose.
in any case, it’s definitely worth a visit if only to take pictures. (be sure to pop in to see all the exhibits that are going on, too! there’s currently a great, if small, Magnum Photos retrospective, among others.) oh, and also to get some karak!
protip: if you’re tired of walking but know where you want to go, hail one of the golf carts. they will shuttle you around for free! and if you need a cab, they can take you to the air-conditioned cab stand where they will call a one for you.