Gondolas Canals Ice Hockey Rinks and Ferris Wheels in a Mall? Welcome to the Villaggio in Qatar

  February 7, 2017 travel posts 🕑 3 minutes read

Pondering how I will turn a Venice themed mall with a ferris wheel and ice skating rink in the Middle East into a blog post.



How did I land in this alternate universe?


5 minutes prior I digested seeing authentic gondolas and pristine canals inside of a Middle Eastern mall.


Then I heard men crashing into what was obviously a hockey rink wall.


But 2 minutes prior to that I spied a ferris wheel and go kart racing. In the same mall. The mall with a monstrously-sized Carrefour and fast food joints and lovely restaurants and VIP bathrooms – don’t ask – and whimsy pink chairs and parking attendants who readily wash your car and the mall sits a few hundred yards from the Over The Top, epic-awesome, balls to the wall Torch hotel and a few blocks from an exotic-looking soccer stadium being built for World Cup 2022.


Being in The Villagio in Doha is like seeing what Tony Stark would do if given free reign to design a mall.


The Villaggio


Our friends suggested we visit this Venice-themed mall. Given it’s a 40 minute walk from the manse we hopped on over during our 2 day in Doha.


The impressive backdrop of the 1,000 foot tall Torch hotel (which does in fact replicate a torch, with fire-like lighting topping the torch-shaped architecture) and one of the massive stadiums being built for the World Cup sets the tone for the place.


This is a Venice-themed mall in Doha. With canals, gondola rides, and Venice-themed 2nd floor storefronts. And also with a ferris wheel, go kart track and ice hockey rink.


On walking inside you are met with a collection of gondolas – similar to Venetian gondolas (go figure!) – and a clean, pristine canal (probably much cleaner than in Venice) which runs in between stores.


Bridges give mall goers crossing points in certain spots. And the aforementioned whimsy chairs appear beside the canal at one particular point. By the VIP bathroom. Very Important Pooper?


The Hockey Rink


For reasons unknown, photos and video of the hockey rink are prohibited. Believe me. It exists. In the middle of the food court. A minute away from the Venetian style canals and gondola rides. Yes rides are offered for a modest fee.


Kelli and I spied a minor league hockey match going on. Looks like some skilled Qatari slapping around the puck these days. I imagine they did not practice much in the 125 degree conditions during hotter months in an outdoor setting.


Gondola rides. I serenaded Kelli into snapping this shot.


As our heads were spinning I found it comical to stumble upon a ferris wheel, go kart track and mini amusement park. In the same mall.


Being far from tacky, this meld of luxury, opulence and “let’s just throw a bunch of fun stuff inside an air conditioned place for when temperatures reach 120 degrees every day” type attitude makes for an enjoyable, fascinating, truly one of a kind mall that has not been replicated on God’s green earth.


From the second floor faux store fronts eerily reminiscent of Venetian architecture and design to the blue skies and light clouds painted onto the ceilings in select spots to healthy-sized food court and requisite mall shops, this place has a charming quality to it.


Ferris wheel and mini amusement park.


Factor in the convenience of being able to step inside a human pop-sicle factory when Satan himself would bitch about the heat and humidity and ya got an epic spot well worth a visit when you happen upon Doha, Qatar.


Your Turn


Have you been to Qatar?


Or the Villaggio Mall?

  1. Dmitriy says:
    at 9:51 pm

    Beautiful little story about gigantic shopping mall with featuring so many unique venues and I would love to take a gondola ride there one day.
    I noticed that you wear a warm sweater.
    What is the weather there? Is it cold?

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 8:38 am

      Hi Dmitriy,

      Warming up now but goodness was it cold when we arrived. 50 degrees F at night and windy as hell for days, hence the warm gear. Wind storm. Dust storm. Nasty stuff with the cold.

      After seeing your awesome images I feel this place is up your alley buddy 🙂


  2. Rob @ Money Nomad says:
    at 9:51 pm

    Gondolas in the river mall! That sounds like a pretty epic place indeed. Dubai has been on my list for years — maybe I’ll have to make a second stop en route. Great blog and keep up the awesome writing!

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 8:36 am

      Hi Rob,

      It is definitely on the epic side of things 😉 Hop skip jump from Dubai so it’d be perfect.



  3. Harleena Singh says:
    at 8:09 am

    Hi Ryan,

    Belated birthday!! 🙂

    You sure are having a great time in Qatar – I can make it out from all the places you’re going, and sweet of Kelli for the birthday gift (saw that on Facebook as well)

    Never been there, but reading through your posts and FB updates, it sure feels like one place to visit!

    Thanks for sharing – enjoy yourselves 🙂

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 9:09 pm

      Hi Harleena,

      Thanks so much 🙂 We love the place. So many things we’ve not seen before from a wealth standpoint, from this mall to The Pearl to over the top and neat stuff.


  4. lisa thomson says:
    at 12:38 pm

    Wow, this is amazing! I want to visit. I wish I were a soccer fan, I would then plan to attend FIFA. What an awesome city to visit, Ryan. I just read a little more about this state because I know nothing…and it’s a country with the highest per capita income in the world (Wiki). Enjoy your travels and I look forward to hearing more!

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 10:48 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      This place is bananas, really. Building for World Cup 2022 dominates the city skyline from wherever you look around town.

      Yep; $400,000 USD income per household. Most is government checks too. Qatar is a welfare state. Sounds funny but true. The government cuts checks for every fam from the stupendous oil and nat gas wealth and also gives every Qatari a home, pays all utilities and does 1 or 2 other things LOL.

      Thanks much 🙂


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