Also known by some as “French Beach”, this area gained its name because it is found by taking the turnoff from Al Shamal (North) Road exactly 42 km north of the Al Khor turnoff. There is a small signpost marked “Maroona”, leading to a narrow tarmac road. Follow this for 6 km before turning right onto a dirt track, heading towards two large palaces.
You should be running parallel with the telegraph poles at this point. Approach the beach between these two buildings, but beware, the sand is very soft for the last 100 metres.
AL GHARIYA BEACH
This north-eastern beach is just 4.5 km beyond Fuwairit on Al Shamal (North) Road (see separate entry below). Take the Al Ghariya turnoff and follow the tarmac road, keeping to the right when the road splits. Pass the newly opened Al Ghariya Beach Resort and, after a distance of some 1.5 km, you will reach an old abandoned village. There are a number of locations, but the best is to the north, beyond the old Scout Camp.
AL THAKHIRA BEACH
Head out of Doha, towards West Bay or Qatar University. At the roundabout near Doha Golf Club, you will see the signs for Al Khor and Simaisma (Route 1A). After 37 km of easy driving north, you will reach Al Khor. Follow the road through the town, bearing left at the northern end of the Corniche towards Al Thakhira. At the next roundabout, turn right; take the first left and pass through the gap in the houses.
Heading left away from the village, pass a newly constructed car park and jetty, onto a track across the salt marsh, leading eventually to a small wadi and then the beach.
Beware! At high tides, with following winds, the salt marsh can turn wet and treacherous, so take care. Park near the wadi unless you are in a 4WD vehicle and you know what you are doing.
Since Qatar is surrounded by sparkling blue waters and 700 km of coastline, it’s only a matter of time before every visitor to the country sets off to spend a day at the beach.
Much of the coast is undeveloped and often difficult to reach, but part of the fun is getting out and discovering your own favourite campsite, picnic area or beachcombing location.
Dukhan is on the west coast of the peninsula, a drive of about 90 km from Doha. The most direct route is to start at the Al Gharrafa Interchange and go along Al Luqta Street past Education City, following the signs for Dukhan. At the gates to Dukhan Township, turn left and follows the coast road for 9 km until you reach Dukhan Water Sports premises.
The tarmac road ends here, but to the south you will find plenty of alternative sites to stop. Take care, for although the beaches are sandy, there are sharp rocks underwater that can rip into bare feet.
Using Landmark Mall as a starting point, take Al Shamal (North) Road, past Al Khor turnoff and continue for a further 44 km. Turn right at the Fuwairit sign, along a surfaced road towards a small village. As you reach the outskirts, turn left onto a rough track running parallel with the coast. Drive for about 1.5 km along the small dune edging the beach until it gives way to the most unusual formations of eroded jabals that run down to the water’s edge.
These very small “cliffs” border a fine sandy bay and, when the tide is low, there are coves that make ideal picnic spots. The strange shapes in the rock face – resembling Gruyere cheese – are a great photo opportunity!
Mesaieed, some 40 km south of Doha, is the centre of the petrochemical industry and a rapidly expanding industrial town. But it has some good beaches south of the town and is the area in which the famous barchan sand dunes begin.
There is a slightly confusing series of roundabouts to navigate on the outskirts of the town, but small signs marked “Beach” will guide you in the right direction. There are popular sites on either side of Sealine Beach Resort, and just outside, you will find dune buggies for hire.
There are no amenities to the south of Mesaieed except Sealine Beach Resort, so it is a good place to stop for refreshments when exploring the coastline.
RAS ABROUQ BEACH
This bay, a favorite spot for weekend campers, is at the very tip of a peninsula that lies north-east of Dukhan. It is a slow journey, over pretty rough tracks and not for the faint-hearted. But if you have bags of time, enthusiasm and a 4WD vehicle, it is an interesting venue.
Take the main Doha-Dukhan road and just a couple of kilometers past the turnoff for Al Jumailiya (about 5 km before you reach the newly-built flyover), you will see a fork where the old Dukhan road runs off to the right. There is only one sign, in Arabic, but this is where you turn off.
After 1.5 km, turn right onto a well-defined dirt track that heads up the north-eastern side of the Ras Abrouq peninsula. Follow it for about 21 km and then branch off to the left, heading up and onto the top of the jabals (hills).
This track will take you past the SCENR wild deer reserve and through an area that was recently used as a film set, with rough stone buildings still adding a touch of mystery to the rugged landscape. After almost 9 km, you will see an abandoned police post perched on top of a jabal. Go around the base and head out over the causeway on your left, leading over to the tip of the peninsula.
The area is full of interesting coves and bays, but the best is at the far end – a sweeping half-moon bay flanked at both ends by rocky outcrops.
SHEIKH’S PALACE BEACH
So called because of the old shell of a beach palace, this beach lies between Umm Bab and Dukhan and can be accessed from either direction. From the roundabout at the entrance to Dukhan Township, turn left and take the first left, marked for Umm Bab.
This road is undergoing major reconstruction and many small diversions are in place so drive carefully. After 7 km, you will crest a small hill where a narrow tarmac road branches off to the right. You will notice a small red oilfield marker DK34.
After 2 km, you will reach the old place. Keep to the right and drive onto the sand towards a small cove flanked by a rocky outcrop at the northern end. Leave your car at the palace and walk if you are not in a 4WD!
UMM BAB BEACH
This is also known as the “Palm Tree Beach” because of the small cluster of palm trees at the end of the road alongside the small breakwater. From Doha, take Salwa Road, clocking 29 km from the Fort Roundabout near Salwa Industrial Area and passing the Mukainis satellite earth station. Turn right and follow the road for a further 40 km until you reach the roundabout at the Umm Bab Cement Works.
Go straight across and take the right-hand fork, passing a small “trading store” on your right.
On cresting a small hill, you will see the coast stretched out below and the distinctive group of trees. Most people turn left at the trees and stop a little further on. The sand is very deep so 2WD vehicles should proceed with caution.