Unlike some destinations in the region, Qatar wants to be the archetypal Arabia and maintain that unique visitor experience. Beyond the conference rooms awaits an amazing array of authentic Arabian encounters. Experience the age-old thrills of falconry or camel racing. Marvel at the legendary Arabian horses or the exotic oryx.
Take a desert safari and camp out in Bedouin tents. Listen to the sand “sing”. Bask in the breath-taking beauty of an Arabian sunset. Step into Qatar’s 6,000-year history in its enigmatic forts, seaside towns and ancient settlements. Visit royal residences restored into exquisite showcases of eastern Arabian architecture.
See the Museum of Islamic Arts astonishing collection spanning 13 centuries. Behold the ethereal beauty of Khor al-Adaid, an “inland sea” surrounded by crescent-shaped sand dunes, some rising up to 40 meters high. Bargain at the labyrinth markets of Souq Waqif. Smoke sheesha in a traditional coffee shop.
Have a shawarma snack of grilled lamb, or thyme pies, washed down with mint tea. Do what the locals do to enjoy their late afternoons – stroll along the Corniche or pack olives, hummus, Arabic bread and mango juice and hire a dhow for a lazy cruise.
Places of Interest
There are several impressive forts surrounding Doha, including the Sheikh Faisal Museum (housing an extraordinary personal collection of cars and artefacts), and the magnificent Al Zubara fortress, a former settlement and thriving trade region, where archaeological investigations are ongoing. About 40km south-west of Doha, the Singing Dunes are an amazing experience – one of the few places in the world where conditions are just right for sand dunes to produce an eerie humming across the desert landscape.
The nearby beach resorts of Doha offer jet skiing, water-skiing, windsurfing and sailing. Two artificial reefs have been created for avid divers. Doha Bay and the Gulf beyond offer fantastic fishing, and cruises are perfect for sunset dinners. The traditional wooden dhow is a great way to take in the calm, warm waters of the bay. Several exotic islands with unspoilt reefs and resorts lie within a couple of hours’ sail from Doha.
Qatar has seven gleaming Western-style malls which offer not only a wide range of merchandise and services but also a host of well-known international brands at competitive prices — City Center Doha, Centrepoint, Royal Plaza, Villaggio, Hyatt Plaza, Landmark and The Mall. They are generally open Saturday to Thursday from 10.00 to 22.00 and on Friday from 14.00 to 22.00.
The Doha Golf Club enjoys a championship course designed by Peter Harradine. A beautiful though challenging course, it is home to the PGA Qatar Master Golf Tournament.
The traditional wooden dhows of the Gulf can be seen at the Fishing Harbour on the Corniche. Fishing provided food and an income for the coastal families. In addition to the working boats, some of the dhows are equipped by tour operators to accommodate groups for boating leisure trips to nearby islands and evening cruises.
Khor Al Udaid (Inland Sea)
The “inland sea” is actually a naturally formed inlet of the Arabian Gulf, which lies in the extreme southeast of Qatar, 78 kilometers from Doha and offers a unique experience of Qatari wildlife (dugong, turtles, waterfowl and gazelles) along with a stunning landscape and beach relaxation. The scalloped dunes of Khor Al Udaid, formed by the winds blowing across the region, rise up to a height of 40 meters in some places. Organised tours to Khor Al Udaid feature exhilarating drives along the dunes, riding camels, sand skiing, and overnight camps.