What used to be one of the poorest Gulf States now shines as a bright gem of prosperity in the region. Qatar, a British protectorate until it gained independence in 1971, has benefited immensely from its enormous oil and natural gas revenues. The transformation into what it is today, a contemporary twenty-first century luxury travel destination, is simply impressive. And the eager tourist will always find something fun to do in this paradise – from exciting safari tours in the desert to high speed jet-ski rides at the turquoise blue beaches.
Al-Corniche, the visual highlight of Doha, is a promenade that curves around Doha Bay. Take a splendid afternoon stroll. Enjoy the scents and scenery. And make sure to take pictures of the giant statue of the Oryx, the mascot of the 15th Asian Games which took place in Doha in 2006.
Singing Sand Dunes, Sheesha and Souqs
Not all sands are created equal. In the desert forty kilometers southwest of Doha, you will be serenaded by sand that sings. Given the perfect wind and moisture conditions, the movement of sand grains creates a wonderful musical low murmur. Not only that, each footstep elicits a humming that cannot only be heard but also felt through amplified vibrations.
A traditional local activity in the afternoons would be to find a sheesha café. The sheesha is an instrument for smoking fruit-flavored tobacco in which the smoke is passed through a water basin. The best place for the adventurous beginner is Ras-Naswa at the non-Sheraton end of the Corniche. The building is an old-style picturesque structure that is as grand as the red Mughal in India.
The souqs (markets) are always a good place to shop for spices, woven baskets and other souvenir items. The Souq Waqif (also referred to as the Old souq) is a grand bazaar not far from the Corniche. The Arabic market quarter is an organized maze of textiles, falcons and food treats. Other souqs worth visiting include the Omani Souq and Gold Souq. Apart from alcohol and pork products, the grand City Centre-Doha is the place to find everything. Located in West Bay, this is the epicenter of shopping and entertainment in Qatar. One of Doha’s newest malls includes the Villagio, a structure inspired by Venice. The mall is home, not just to famous western brands, but also a long canal offering surreal gondola rides.
Where to Stay
From the airport, take a 30-minute taxi ride to the Al Sultan Beach Resort. Nestled in the heart of Al Khor (a coastal city in Northern Qatar), the palace turned hotel offers guests the most stunning uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf. Located directly on the beach of Al Khor, get ready to enjoy the endless shores of wonder. Every guest room is gorgeously designed, and each guest requirement can easily be handled by the hotel staff which is competent in not only in Arabic and English but also German, French, Japanese, Hindi and Tagalog. For dinner, try the Al Dente Seafood Restaurant. Expect a rich array of seafood options served a la carte with Italian spirit. This should be a perfect choice for an unforgettable holiday.