The incredible transformation of Doha in Qatar revealed by astonishing then and now pictures 


Fascinating photographs show how Qatar’s capital city has undergone an incredible transformation over the past 50 years.

Then and now pictures, courtesy of Qatar Tourism, illustrate how Doha’s landmarks and landscapes have changed dramatically over a period of time that amounts to a blink of an eye, historically.

For example, the Sheraton Grand Hotel was once the only building to mark the flat stretch of sand along the West Bay area. A glittering skyline of sci-fi-style skyscrapers has since sprouted by the water’s edge.

As this rapid development got underway, notable pieces of Qatari history – such as the Barzan Towers and the Al Zubarah Fort – were preserved and restored. And there’s more besides.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive and Chairman of Qatar Tourism, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, said: ‘Qatar has a fascinating history for such a small country, stretching back way into the annals of ancient human history. Yet no period has been as dramatic and transformational as the past 50 years, where huge infrastructure programmes have made modern Doha essentially unrecognisable from how it used to be.’

Scroll down to see the astonishing contrast between past and present…

WEST BAY SKYLINE: Over the decades, a stunning transformation of the area took place. In contemporary Doha, the Sheraton stands among a forest of sci-fi skyscrapers

WEST BAY SKYLINE: The picture on the left, taken in the late 1970s, shows the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort and Convention Hotel in West Bay being constructed. Over the decades, a stunning transformation of the area took place. In contemporary Doha, the Sheraton stands among a forest of sci-fi skyscrapers

SHERATON HOTEL: Shaped like a pyramid and built on the shores of Doha Bay, The Sheraton opened on February 22, 1982
SHERATON HOTEL: The Sheraton Hotel's steel frame and prefabricated panels were new methods of construction in Qatar at the time it was built

SHERATON HOTEL: Shaped like a pyramid and built on the shores of Doha Bay, The Sheraton opened on February 22, 1982. The hotel’s steel frame and prefabricated panels were new methods of construction in Qatar at the time

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF QATAR: The Old Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani is one of Doha’s most recognisable landmarks
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF QATAR: The Old Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani is now encased by the UFO-like National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), which opened its doors as a museum in 2019. The museum was designed by French architect Jean Novel, who was inspired by the form and shape of a desert rose

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF QATAR (NMOQ): The Old Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani is one of Doha’s most recognisable landmarks. The palace is now encased by the UFO-like National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), which opened its doors as a museum in 2019. The museum was designed by French architect Jean Novel, who was inspired by the form and shape of a desert rose

OLD SHEIKH'S PALACE: Above you'll see the historic palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani as it appeared in 1960. Known as 'The Old Palace', the grand building was constructed during the early 20th century
OLD SHEIKH'S PALACE: The historic palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani has been restored several times over the past century

OLD SHEIKH’S PALACE: To the left, you’ll see the historic palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani as it appeared in 1960. Known as ‘The Old Palace’, the grand building was constructed during the early 20th century. The palace, which once stood as the seat of government in Qatar, has been restored several times over the years 

TOWER IN AL BIDDA PARK: This photograph was taken around 1959, showing the tower on an old fort in Al Bidda Park
TOWER IN AL BIDDA PARK: The tower was reconstructed as part of the restoration of Al Bidda Park, which is near Doha Bay

TOWER IN AL BIDDA PARK: The photograph on the left was taken around 1959, showing the tower on an old fort in Al Bidda Park. The tower was reconstructed as part of the restoration of the park, which is near Doha Bay

DOHA POST OFFICE: The main post office of Doha was constructed in 1979, and it's still in operation today
DOHA POST OFFICE: The distinctive design of the post office's roof helps to bring light into the space while keeping the building cool

DOHA POST OFFICE: The main post office of Doha was constructed in 1979, and it’s still in operation today. The distinctive design of the roof helps to bring light into the space while keeping the building cool

CENTRAL BANK: This snapshot on the left dates back to the 1970s. Originally known as the Qatar Monetary Agency, the Qatar Central Bank HQ was established in 1973
CENTRAL BANK: Once the Qatar Central Bank HQ was founded, the bank issued a new currency called the Qatari Riyal, which is still the country's official currency

CENTRAL BANK: The snapshot on the left dates back to the 1970s. Originally known as the Qatar Monetary Agency, the Qatar Central Bank HQ was established in 1973. Once it was founded, the bank issued a new currency called the Qatari Riyal, which is still the country’s official currency

BARZAN TOWERS: Above, the Barzan Towers are seen circa 1959. The watchtowers were built in the late 19th century. At 16 metres (52.4ft) in height, their name was inspired by their stature - in Arabic, 'barzan' means 'high place'
BARZAN TOWERS: Bringing them back to their former glory, the Barzan Towers underwent a restoration in 2003

BARZAN TOWERS: To the left, the Barzan Towers are seen circa 1959. The watchtowers were built in the late 19th century. At 16 metres (52.4ft) in height, their name was inspired by their stature – in Arabic, ‘barzan’ means ‘high place’. Bringing them back to their former glory, the towers underwent a restoration in 2003

VIEW FROM GULF HOTEL: Above, you'll see the view from the Gulf Hotel in the 1970s, after construction on the Sheraton Grand had been completed
VIEW FROM GULF HOTEL: In the past 50 years, the rise of skyscrapers on the horizon has dramatically transformed the view from the Gulf Hotel. Large construction projects and new beaches have also altered the vista

VIEW FROM GULF HOTEL: On the left, you’ll see the view from the Gulf Hotel in the 1970s, after construction on the Sheraton Grand had been completed. In the decades that followed, the rise of skyscrapers on the horizon dramatically transformed the view. Large construction projects and new beaches have also altered the vista

AL KAHRABA STREET: Al Kahraba street in the Msheireb area of central Doha has been transformed as part of the Msheireb Downtown Doha programme, which is the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project
AL KAHRABA STREET: The Msheireb Downtown Doha programme is reviving the old commercial district surrounding Al Kahraba street with contemporary Qatari architecture

AL KAHRABA STREET: Al Kahraba street in the Msheireb area of central Doha has been transformed as part of the Msheireb Downtown Doha programme, which is ‘the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project’. The project is reviving the old commercial district with contemporary Qatari architecture

AL KAHRABA STREET: Al Kahraba street was the first street in Qatar to be fully lit. Its name derives from this fact - ‘kahraba’ means electricity in Arabic
AL KAHRABA STREET: This photo was captured in 2021. Al Kahraba street, and the surrounding area, are now home to luxury townhouses, premium apartments, hotels, museums, and offices. According to Qatar Tourism, the area 'blends Qatari heritage and aesthetics with modern technology'

AL KAHRABA STREET: Al Kahraba street was the first street in Qatar to be fully lit. Its name derives from this fact – ‘kahraba’ means electricity in Arabic. The photograph on the right was captured in 2021. Al Kahraba street, and the surrounding area, are now home to luxury townhouses, premium apartments, hotels, museums, and offices. According to Qatar Tourism, the area ‘blends Qatari heritage and aesthetics with modern technology’ 

SOUQ WAQIF: This is the Souq Waqif marketplace in the 1970s
SOUQ WAQIF: The Souq Waqif is an important part of daily life in Doha. Thanks to its central location in the city, the marketplace attracts locals and tourists alike

SOUQ WAQIF: Cast your eye to the left and you’ll see the traditional Souq Waqif marketplace in the 1970s. Fast forward to the modern-day and the Souq Waqif remains an important part of daily life in Doha. Thanks to its central location in the city, the souq attracts locals and tourists alike 

SOUQ WAQIF: The Souq Waqif is built on the site of Doha’s century-old trading market, near the waterside. In the 70s, the marketplace had space for visiting vehicles to park alongside the shops
SOUQ WAQIF: Today, most drivers visiting the Souq Waqif park in the area's underground car park

SOUQ WAQIF: The Souq Waqif is built on the site of Doha’s century-old trading market, near the waterside. In the 70s, the marketplace had space for visiting vehicles to park alongside the shops. Today, however, most drivers park in the area’s underground car park 

SOUQ WAQIF: The Souq Waqif fell into decline near the end of the 20th century. Further destruction occurred in 2003 when a fire ravaged most of the marketplace
SOUQ WAQIF: After the fire of 2003, plans were put in place to restore the Souq Waqif to its original historical appearance, and this restoration was finally completed in 2008. The Qatar Tourism board says the restoration 'has been an incredible success and it [the Souq Waqif] has become one of Doha’s most popular sites'

SOUQ WAQIF: The Souq Waqif fell into decline near the end of the 20th century. Further destruction occurred in 2003 when a fire ravaged most of the marketplace. In the years that followed, plans were put in place to restore the Souq Waqif to its original historical appearance, and this restoration was finally completed in 2008. The Qatar Tourism board says the restoration ‘has been an incredible success and it [the Souq Waqif] has become one of Doha’s most popular sites’ 

AL ZUBARAH FORT: This image was captured in the 1950s and shows the Al Zubarah Fort, which is the most prominent feature of the Unesco-listed Al Zubarah Archaeological Site. It's also the youngest feature, having been built in 1938
AL ZUBARAH FORT: The Al Zubarah Fort, which has been described as a 'pristine' example of a typical Arab fort, features one-metre-thick (3.2ft) walls, which helped to ward off invaders and keep rooms cool throughout the sweltering heat of the summer

AL ZUBARAH FORT: The image on the left was captured in the 1950s and shows the Al Zubarah Fort, which is the most prominent feature of the Unesco-listed Al Zubarah Archaeological Site. It’s also the youngest feature, having been built in 1938. The Al Zubarah Fort, which has been described as a ‘pristine’ example of a typical Arab fort, features one-metre-thick (3.2ft) walls, which helped to ward off invaders and keep rooms cool throughout the sweltering heat of the summer 

DUKHAN AIRPORT: Pictured is the old Dukhan Airport control tower, which was constructed in the 1930s. It was located in Qatar's first-ever airport, which was made obsolete by the grand opening of the Doha International Airport in 1959
DUKHAN AIRPORT: The original Dukhan 
Airport was recently restored

DUKHAN AIRPORT: Pictured on the left is the old Dukhan Airport control tower, which was constructed in the 1930s. It was located in Qatar’s first-ever airport, which was made obsolete by the grand opening of the Doha International Airport in 1959. On the right, you’ll see that the original Dukhan Airport was recently restored

OXYGEN PARK: This photograph was taken in the early 2010s when Doha's Oxygen park was under construction. Sidra Hospital, designed by renowned Argentine-American architect Cesar Pelli, can be seen in the background
OXYGEN PARK: The park was inaugurated in 2019. It is based in Education City, the city's university and learning centre. According to Qatar Tourism, the park has become a 'green lung' for the students of the surrounding educational facilities and campuses

OXYGEN PARK: The photograph on the left was taken in the early 2010s, when Doha’s Oxygen park was under construction. Sidra Hospital, designed by renowned Argentine-American architect Cesar Pelli, can be seen in the background. The park was inaugurated in 2019. It is based in Education City, the city’s university and learning centre. According to Qatar Tourism, the park has become a ‘green lung’ for the students of the surrounding educational facilities and campuses

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