We chose to do an overnight layover in Doha on our trip from Sydney to Kenya, and another night from Cape Town to Sydney. It was a great way to split up the journey and do a little bit of exploring in a new place without actually spending any more money on airfare.
I really enjoyed Doha. We stayed in the Souq Waqif area both times which made it easy to explore the area to my heart's content, get lost in the labyrinthine alleyways, walk back to our rooms for the midday siesta, and then wander around some more at night.
On the outskirts of the Souq Waqif area there is a large stable full of Arabian horses (I read somewhere that they are police horses, but I can't vouch for the accuracy of that). When the staff saw us peeking through the windows from the street, they invited us to take a look around at our leisure- (I was thrilled that most of the shop owners in the Souq were really friendly and didn't mind us wandering around taking photos).
We did one of those half day 'desert safari' tours with one of the local tour companies. I discovered that I LOVED sand dunes, and that I hated 'dune bashing'- which is essentially a rollercoaster ride on the dunes- up and down and sideways with a 4 wheel drive. After about 15 minutes I felt so motion sick I pleaded with the driver to please stop the 'bashing' and can we just get out of the car and take some photos.
Motion sickness aside- the dunes were stunning and well worth the trip. I wonder whether there are trips out to the dunes where you could do most of the exploring on foot or on the back of a horse or camel- that would be incredible. Our disappointing 'camel ride' on the day didn't really count- it lasted all of 3 minutes and was just a lap of the carpark.
Falconry is a thriving national sport in Doha, dating back thousands of years. It is such a big part of Qatari culture that there is a large state of the art Falcon hospital in the Souq Waqif, and you can sometimes see treasured pet falcons (worth between $10- 20KUSD) seated in First Class next to their owners.