Having lived in Qatar for three years now, and remained in the country for the duration of each Ramadan, I have joined my friends and family on numerous occasions, and in numerous different settings, for Iftar. I’ve come to love this time of year, when, whether fasting or not, we can all partake in Islamic culture and tradition by coming together to eat and socialise after the sun has set.
Dozens of Iftars later, and I’m starting to get a flavour for what makes a Ramadan tent memorable. From great entertainment and atmosphere, to family-friendly touches, and of course, an array of excellent food, each of the tents on this list are equally as worthy of a shout-out, albeit for different reasons.
While some indelible favourites from last year’s list remain, there are also a few newcomers for 2017…
Best traditional atmosphere
Intercontinental Doha The City
If you are looking for a traditional, Middle Eastern vibe then this is the Ramadan tent to head to this year. Much like last year, the Al Jawhara Ramadan Oasis is a delicious blend of sumptuous fabrics, rich colours and ornate decorations, with live Tounora shows and traditional music playing from 9pm onwards for Sohour. The various stations dotted around the tent offer a variety of traditional dishes from around the region, and there is an Arabic dessert buffet on offer like no other.
Favourite dish: The melt-in-the-mouth lamb kabsa with mint and jasmine sauce
Iftar: QAR 195
Sohour: QAR 195
Best live cooking stations
The beautiful set-up of this tent is inspired by an Arabian Food Bazaar, and features several live cooking stations constructed to look like market stalls, offering everything from Shakshuka to Pad Thai, and traditional Ouzi to Turkish street food. If you’re looking for something a little different to your standard buffet, then you will really enjoy this Iftar. It also features the largest date and chocolate display in Doha, and a very friendly-looking camel!
Favourite dish: The delicious tacos from the Mexican stall. Olé!
Iftar: QAR 195
Sohour: QAR 220
Marsa Malaz Kempinski
Once again, the palatial Iftar at the Marsa Malaz surpasses all
others when it comes to the choice and quantity of food. The hotel has over TWO HUNDRED dishes on offer from fifteen different cuisines from around
the world, including live sushi, wok, shawarma and pasta stations;
plentiful salads and
carvery meats; clay pot Arabic dishes and curries; Mezzes from Al Sufra;
and a vast selection of sweets, including some of Cafe Murano’s
delectable specialities. If variety is the spice of life, then the Marsa
Malaz is bringing the heat this Ramadan.
Favourite dish: The fresh sushi, made on the spot by the dedicated sushi chef.
Iftar: QAR 240
Sohour: QAR 290
Best for a private affair
Marriott Marquis City Center
The Marriott Marquis’ Wanassa tent offers diners something different this Ramadan. Instead of mood lighting in a shadowy pavilion, you can expect a bright and upbeat ambience, with exquisite decor and attention to detail. This is the place to come if you want to dine in privacy, as the tent has no less than 18 private majilises, complete with a beautifully set formal dinner table, sofas, soft furnishings and TV sets reeling off relaxing scenes. Don’t forget to say hello to the Turkish icecream seller while you are there – he’s a bit of a comedian!
Favourite dish: The succulent rib of beef
Iftar: QAR 210
Sohour: Á la carte
Best overall experience for the entire family
The Four Seasons Hotel
I have nothing but glowing praise for the Four Seasons’ Ramadan Tent, which is set in their Al Mirqab Ballroom. The traditional Arabic cuisine is beautifully done, the international cuisine varied and plentiful, the live cooking stations fun and interesting, and everything I tasted was delicious. Importantly, the service was also on point, despite it being a busy night when I attended.
The whole family will remain entertained throughout your meal as Jové Club have taken up residence throughout the duration of Ramadan, to provide a dedicated playroom for the children. Oh, and those of you that are familiar with the chocolate shawarma stand will be pleased to hear that it is back this year by popular demand!
Favourite dish: Difficult to choose, but that dreamy and unique chocolate shawarma just about pips it!
Iftar: QAR 235
Sohour: QAR 270
Best of the rest…
There are a few Iftars that have received glowing praise from my fellow foodie friends and bloggers alike, but which I haven’t had a chance to check out yet. Here are the best of the rest, and why I’ll definitely be visiting for an Iftar or two before the holy month comes to an end.
The W’s Ramadan tent is always a hit, but this year’s Sultan’s Tent looks particularly exciting, as Chef Narwal Al Sayed has his own live cooking station dedicated to the very best of Qatari cuisine.
City Centre Rotana
The Almas Ramadan Tent has some of the best offers and promotions in the city, with incredible discounts for group bookings.
The Ramadan tent at the Ritz Carlton is always one of my favourites and I’m disappointed that I haven’t had a chance to attend yet this Ramadan The theme of this year’s tent sounds particularly inspiring, based on traditional Qatari heritage. I can’t wait to see it for myself!
Because I love the Marriott’s Street Food brunch so much, I know that I am going to enjoy this Iftar, which is based on a similar theme. Live cooking stations and plenty of variety is the essence of this tent, with a relaxed and upbeat vibe.
As always, the St Regis offers guests not just one, but two Ramadan tents: The Souq in the Grand Ballroom, and Layaly Ramadan in the Al Gassar Ballroom. Combined, these tents cover over 3,000 sqm of space, with displays that are as sumptuous as they are elegant.
Coral plays host to Iftar, while The Shahrazad Tent, located in the Intercon’s Al Wajba Ballroom is the location of Sohour, with decor inspired by the magical settings of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’. I’ll be heading along because the Intercontinental knows how to do a really good buffet (and I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at winning one of the daily prizes either…free hotel stay anyone?!).
Picture courtesy of Intercontinental Doha
Where would you recommend to enjoy Iftar in Doha this year?
I was a guest of the above hotels for Iftar, but as always all views are my own.