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Attractions in Doha Qatar

Film City, Doha

The film city is a contemporary recreation of an antique Arabic village nestled behind a canyon in the desert of the Zekreet peninsula. The Film City is located in one of Qatar’s truly fantastic site that is entirely deserted. The visitors really feel as they may have stepped into one of the ghost towns in the American west; with anomalous palm trees rather than tumbleweeds afford a visual treat in the never-ending arid landscape.

doha film city

There are different answers for anyone who asks why Film City was built in Qatar? The replica village was said to either function as the set of a big Hollywood production or for a native Arabic film, or for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup video promo. Whatever the reason, the spacious outline of the city, secluded location and sparse tourism, only served to magnify the weird element when visitors walk through its main square. However, the film city seizes the last structural detail with expert subtlety and provides visitors a high creepiness as well as adventurous factor on a day out. So take a breather from the norm and make a trip out in the middle of the Arabian Desert to an eerie Hollywood movie set.

How to go?

Film city can be reached from Doha by following Dukhan highway taking D-Ring Road to Shamal then turn left at Al Rayyan Interchange (4-level interchange). This leads you to Dukhan Highway. After travelling nearly 90 kms, turn right once Zikreet route sign is reached.

It is worthwhile to bring along a person who has already visited the area, at least for two or more. Depending upon how many photo stops you make along the way, total trip may take 1-2 hours. Though a sedan type car can pass the route and make it to the film studio if tourists stay on the graded surfaces. Once we get off the graded tracks, 4WD is recommended.

Inside the Film City

Film City is located on the RasAbrouq peninsula, eighty kilometers from Doha. It is recommended to take a four-wheel-drive vehicle however the problem is that fence block is available which stops its access from the main highway. There is a Camel Tunnel —accessible, strangely enough, via a truck weigh station off the Garafat Al Rayyan and Dukhan Highway. The tunnel will take the visitors under the highway and onto the desert road to the north. Film City mimics the mini Arabic town; traditional mud-brick houses with wooden doors, the town contains small houses, a mosque, plenty of gates and doors and a look-out. A caretaker lives nearby the walled compound once you enter the film city and is very welcoming to the tourists.

The environment gradually mutate into something surreal once we travel along the dusty trail. With the waves of the Zekreet Peninsula oceanfront sparkling in the backdrop, the brown stony surface of the desert transform into pale cream sand. The series of ridges form a miniature canyon like structure and the airstream from the ocean had eroded the ridges, forming their abnormal shapes so they now stand like isolated bulky figures. The color of the miniature canyon forms a plain contrast to the shoreline lapping in the distance and the open blue sky. The remarkable photographic feature is that the piercing rays of the sun are reflected off the rocks and bounce off the waves in the distance regardless of the size of the makeshift canyon.

On the protrusion of few of the ridges, there is a small cairn, a spherical collection of sandy-hued stones and they look like they were keeping a watchful eye of the area.

Qataris believe that the Bedouin built these traditionally to signify their territorial boundary to others, or supposedly they were used to mark the location of buried. Irrespective of the reasons, with the smell of sea salt heavy on air, the cairns afforded a panoramic view of the environs.

There is a large collection of palm trees along the makeshift path into the valley. Travelling into the ramparts, Sandy-colored turrets can be seen in the shielded protection of the palm trees, building roofs and minarets hovering above the tops of the palm trees, forming what looked to be a mirage against the backdrop of the stark landscape.

There is a fort with a narrow wooden door inside the valley. The buildings inside the fort were a mixture of randomly packed down rectangular rooms which are clustered in groups around the square, with heavy wooden doors and from the entrance of the rooms shaky poles extend outside. Meanwhile, towers peered over the rest of the buildings.

The minaret of the mosques has lookout windows where we can gaze across the sweeping landscape and the tower act as a herald to the adjoining landscape. Surprisingly, there is an electric blue-green oasis – that was really dazzling to the eyes against the conditions of the huge, beige desert. The bushes and palm trees that surrounded the oasis sheltered the area from the sweltering heat, which only made it more alluring as visitors can spent some time comforting by the pool of water.

Things to Remember

  • The drive from the main road takes a while so pack some liquids, food and entertainment.
  • Make sure to have a guide with you, not many people go there so there are literally no passersby to ask.
  • Another caution, make sure the car has a full gas tank.
  • The caretakers are pleasant and imagine them living in such remote conditions, it's always nice to give them a little something however it’s not obligatory.
  • Don't forget to stop at the ruins of Zekreet fort and stop to see the caravan of camels in the villages on the way.

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