Let me start with one of the most astonishing facts about this country, Qatar is one of the safest country on Earth. By that I mean a natural disaster is least likely to strike Qatar. Also it has the highest per capita income in the world as it has the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves.
I never thought of Qatar as a travel destination but the country has a lot to offer in terms of tourism. There are ample number of adventures like desert safaris, film city, road trips, scuba diving, fly boarding and other such water sports. Qatar is also the home of international flavours serving food cultures from around the world.
Doha, the capital of the richest country Qatar is one of the most beautiful city to visit with its great style and beautiful Souk. It is Qatar’s fastest growing city making it the most modern and rapidly developing city with the economic, administration, culture, transportation, and social-service center in Doha. The city is well balanced with modern shopping malls and the traditional Souq. Doha is the educational center of the country and has one of the best schools and colleges. Football is the most popular sport here and the city is going to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It is also attracting a lot of tourists because of this reason.
A drive, cycle or walk along Doha’s long, horseshoe-shaped Corniche is the perfect way to introduce yourself to the city. On cooler evenings, the huge pathways that line the water’s edge get busy with families and tourists relaxing here. You can spot the Oyster and Pearl fountain is located on the Corniche of Doha, it is one of the most Instagramed spots in Doha. Prior to the discovery of oil, the Qatari economy was largely based on pearl fishing.
The Museum of Islamic Art is one of the most informative museums to visit in Doha. It has the largest collection of Islamic Art in the world. The entrance of the museum is by a beautiful giant palm tree. The collection is spread over the three floors and the guided tours are provided for 40 minutes to explore the museum. It does not have any entry fee. It’s interesting how you can spot a Kaabah key on display and also read about the history of Syria under the same roof. There’s a park outside the museum which is huge, the weather was good when we were there in March so we could take a walk around there. The view of the skyline is eye catching from here!
The crescent-shaped Banana Island is one of the best visit to Doha. It is covered with 800m of golden-sand. The island keeps the visitors fuelled with the traditional food with the rides like Segway rides, beach diving, bowling and flow rider wave riding. I didn’t make it to the Banana island, maybe on my next visit.
One of the incredible libraries in the world is in Doha. It is shaped like a space-ship with two million books for the readers. The library has egg chairs, work stations, a children’s library and a cafeteria. The library also has the recording studio with the instruments for the residents to use.
Then there is the Katara Mosque which was designed by a Turkish mosque designer. The decoration was done by the people from Istanbul with bricks and clay. This has to be on your list because it is very different from mosques you have visited.
You must visit Villaggio Mall which is famous for it’s Venetian ambiance. It has international as well as local brands. I didn’t shop much here because the prices were higher than what you can get in India for cheaper for the same brand. The only reason I kept going to this mall was because of Laduree and The Cheesecake Factory! It has food courts, restaurants, movie theaters, Gondola rides which gives a very Venetian feel. To be honest I loved this mall, it’s very bright, beautiful and doesn’t really give that mall-ish feel.
The Pearl, is an artificial island which The name ‘The Pearl’ was chosen because the island is built on one of Qatar’s previous major pearl diving sites. This island represents Qatar’s rich past in the Pearl industry.
Souq Waqif is one of the best souqs I have been to. The labyrinth bazaar which means the ‘standing market’ is the oldest soul which is the major tourist destination in Doha. The passageways are covered with the tiny stores having stone walls. It is also a home to traditional-style restaurant and shisha lounges and the art galleries. It is famous for camel racing which is called the ‘Sports of Sheikhs’. I liked the Souq area so much that I’m going to write an entire new post about it because there’s so much you can see and do there.
VISA AND COMMUTE
Tourist visa for Indians going to Qatar will be one of the easiest you will experience. It’s completely visa on arrival without any visa fees. Also, the experience is completely hassle free. Though it is adviced to be carrying a valid credit or debit card in ones name we were not asked to show it.
Nothing is within walkable distance in Doha and cabs are the only way one can commute. Cabs in Qatar are ideally one of the cheapest amongst the Middle East countries. In comparison to cabs in Dubai and Oman it’s pretty reasonable and widely available. Uber also has a decent service and fleet in Doha with average waiting time for an Uber is around 3-4 mins max.
WHERE TO STAY
Doha is one of the places where there are many cluster of hotels at some distance to each other. Bigger one being the West Bay Area with a view of the skyline and right near the Corniche. The West Bay Area is the one with high rises and has many hotels including Movenpick (where I stayed), W, Four Seasons, Sheraton and the likes. The West Bay is conveniently located and it’s easy to reach any of the tourist places in Doha from there. Another option is the area near Souk Waqif and near the villagio mall complex. Cabs are convenient to get but one must keep in mind that the evening peak traffic in Doha is sometimes a mood spoiler so extra travel time should be taken.
To sum up I would like to say that, one must visit this place to have a wonderful experience in their life.