#QATARILITMONTH: Skyscrapers and Artificial Islands in Qatar

“Beauty At First Sight”

Skyline of Doha

The year 2005, when I set foot in Qatar, was a turning point in my life. That was the moment I saw the beautiful architecture that saturated my soul and nourished my ideas at the College of Architecture.

I have not forgotten when I went with my husband to see Al Dafna on the coast of the Arabian Gulf for the first time and he told me that it was a sea that had been buried to become solid land, topped by giant towers standing tall, adorned with beautiful designs and distinctive architectural structures. It was an unforgettable moment that made me feel proud and astonished, and that what we were designing on paper, aspiring to gain the admiration of a jury, was something feasible that could serve everyone. Perhaps the average person cannot imagine that an area of water can turn into a vast land-bearing foundation for solid and beautiful buildings. The Al Dafna area is an achievement that relied on accuracy, effort, planning and implementation. 

Many residential, commercial and hotel towers were built, reflecting the advancements Qatar has made in its urban development. I am sure that each tower has a story, and together they make a beautiful, integrated, harmonious painting that calls for pride.

Map of Al Dafna Area in Qatar, Source

An artificial island is an island that was built by people rather than formed by natural means. That is why Al Dafna got its name, because it is a sea or dredged land that was buried under sand and rocks, and then buildings were erected above it. It was established in the mid-1980s for a huge land reclamation project along the coast and quickly transformed into commercial and hotel skyscrapers.

One of the distinctive towers in the Al Dafna area, the Doha Tower, designed by Jean Nouvel, has a stunning design that won the CTBUH Skyscraper Award for Best Tall Building Worldwide.

Doha Tower

The design idea relied on the mashrabiya technique that was used in the past in traditional Islamic mud houses. In this tower, the mashrabiya was made of concrete and aluminum, allowing sunlight to infiltrate in a beautiful geometric way. To support Qatar’s interest in preserving the environment, the tower contains green spaces in the form of a vertical garden.

It is located among the many towers of the Doha Corniche, which is distinguished by its pure blue water, which tempts you to take a boat trip to enjoy the beauty of the view.

Qatari Skyscrapers- Sea View

Qatar has wisely exploited the sea area that is unsuitable for swimming by filling it in and using solid foundations and structural supports linked to horizontal and vertical beams. Each tower has its own personality that distinguishes it through the design of architects and engineering companies.

And the story does not end on the Corniche. Qatar is full of amazing architectural projects, including the Pearl. It took six years to complete the Pearl, a vast manmade island, as the area was previously shallow Gulf water. It now includes high-end residential and commercial buildings, marinas, and beaches.

Areal View of The Pearl Island

I don’t know which makes the Pearl truly special, its view of the Arabian Gulf or its distinctive architecture that uses the smallest details to harmonize the senses. I used to think that you had to travel many miles to enjoy such a place, but now you can live among it with a lifestyle that combines luxury and tourism with daily life.

The Pearl IslandViva Bahria Towers

Qatar is one of the first countries in the Middle East to be distinguished in the field of skyscrapers and contemporary architecture, and Qatar National Library is rich in books that talk about Qatar’s urban history and its development over the years. Qatar: Sand, Sea and Sky, by Diana Untermeyer, explores Qatar’s balance between development, preservation and adherence to authenticity.

In addition to print books, the Library also offers online resources and databases, such as the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals. This site includes magazines on urban design, landscape architecture and city planning around the world. Art & Architecture Source is a full-text research database covering fine, decorative and commercial art, as well as architecture and design.

Whether you live in Qatar or are just visiting, I promise that you will experience a rich culture of urbanization, and the scenes of development will accompany you wherever you go to nourish your sight and mind.

Related Books Available at Qatar National Library

The New Architecture of Qatar

By: Philip Jodidio

Preface by H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani

Photography by Roland Halbe

(2014) Skira Rizzoli Publications, Inc. 

Marsa Malaz Kempinsky : Precious Jewel on The Sea 

By: Valerie Aoun [and three others]

Photographer: Massimo Listri


ISBN: 9788857233185

Written By

Zaizafon Mahmoud AlMasri 

Zaizafon is a senior administrative assistant at Research and learning department in Qatar National library ,her duties focus on helping the community based on my experience in public services and her major in architecture

Instagram account: zaizafoun_m 

Qatar National Library

#QatariLitMonth is curated by Abeer S. Al-Kuwari

Abeer works as director of Research and Learning Services at the newly established Qatar National Library (QNL). Abeer’s work focuses on engaging library researchers in the Qatari community to explore archival and libraries as Memory institutions and documentary heritage. She is a founding member of the Library and Information Association in Qatar (LIA-Q), which was established in 2014.

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