Street view in the Katara Art Village

Street view in the Katara Cultural Village. Photo NeilvdL.

Katara, also named Katara Cultural Village or the Valley of Cultures, is a complex of buildings hosting cultural institutions, events and organizations. It was newly built on reclaimed land. The  complex opened in 2010 on the occasion of the Doha Cultural Capital of the Arab World year.

Quite differently from most of Doha’s ambitious new cultural buildings, elsewhere in the city, all of the Katara complex is built in a mixture of retro-romantic and oriental architectural styles, perhaps with the idea that this would be more attractive for the average public.

Throughout the complex there are various art exhibition spaces, like the QMA gallery, the Qatar Photographic Society and the Katara Art Centre. The village would be ideal for more private art galleries, but, just over a year after the opening of Doha Culture Capital of the Arab World 2010, most of the galleries do not show much activity and are being refurbished.

Katara Cultural Village also hosts the Opera House, a mix of Oriental and late Victorian architectural styles, derived from European 19th century models. Operas are rarely performed, but it is also home to the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. The building is said to suffer from dry acoustics, which makes it not very suitable for the prestigious orchestra that performs here. The smaller Drama Theatre can seat 430 people.

Facing the beach is an amphitheater, seating up to 5000 people nad used for events like pop concerts and open-air film viewings.

Moreover, the head offices of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival and a music academy are part of the complex, and there are several restaurants.

On the seaside are café’s and restaurants that are popular during evenings and weekends, visited by Qatari families and others.

Next to the complex are the headquarters of the Al Jazeera broadcasting station, built in a similar design, and radiating a surprisingly low-key outlook compared to the reputation of the station.



Written by: Neil Last modified: 21st Nov 2012