Good day to all of my friends. I hope that sun is warm on your face today and all is delightful in your world!
The World Athletic Championships just finished in Qatar, a place that I really enjoy visiting but not many folks know about. Doha, the capital of Qatar has nearly all of the population of the country and it is a shiny new city built of concrete and steel, financed by natural gas which is abundant in the country.
The West Bay area of Doha – Blue skies and Skyscrapers!
Qatar has about 2.5 Million people but only about 320,000 citizens. The non-citizen residents make up over 85% of the population! As you might expect from this statistic, Qatar is a cosmopolitan place embracing many different cultures. Like its big brother Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar is filled with landmark architecture designed to impress. Interestingly, the concrete must be chilled during construction in order to ensure that it doesn’t set too quickly. This is the opposite of many European and American cities where concrete must be covered to protect it from freezing in the winter. Many new techniques for aerating the concrete were designed in the region to support the new shapes and heights of these iconic structures.
The Museum of Islamic Art
Doha has made a name for itself by sponsoring athletic events. In addition to the World Athletic Championships in September 2019, there are numerous events every month. For example, October 2019 sees the World Super Bike Championship, the FINA Swimming World Cup is in November followed by the World Beach Sports Competition.
World Super Bike Championships & Moto Grand Prix!
The hard work on these facilities will pay off in 2022 when Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup. The selection of Qatar was controversial and there are still issues to be overcome, but Qatar has a track record of putting together incredible events. I know they will prove the nay-sayers wrong and deliver an exciting competition in an incredible and comfortable venue.
When you’re not watching sports, there are excellent museums and art galleries to explore. The exhibits inside the Museum of Islamic Art are even more impressive than the building. If that’s not ‘your thing’, then sample the fabulous shopping in Qatar. Like Dubai, Doha offers fantastic duty-free shopping in enormous malls with wonderfully air-conditioned comfort.
Qatar offers exciting seaside activities including fishing, kayaking, diving, jet-skiing and kiteboarding. You can take a ride on a traditional sailing ship, called a ‘Dhow’. A unique activity to the region is ‘dune bashing’ when you drive specially prepared four-wheel drive vehicles across challenging desert landscapes. Don’t think that you’ll move ‘from airconditioning to air-conditioning’ because outdoor activities are excellent almost year-round.
Traditional Dhow Experience in the warm Arabian Waters
Here’s a pro-tip: Plan on taking a desert excursion at night for some traditional Arab hospitality, camel riding, authentic Bedouin cuisine, fun entertainment and fabulous views of the night sky! The temperature drops quickly in the desert providing cool breezes and relaxed evenings.
Visiting Qatar is easy because over 80 countries’ passport holders enter without a visa or with a simple electronic application that can be fulfilled online! Reaching Qatar is also simple due to the impressive Hamad International Airport right outside of Doha. This shining new convenient airport has a capacity of 29 Million passengers annually. It is the flagship port of the national airline, Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways is a shareholder in other airlines around the world and is also a member of the OneWorld global alliance so connections from almost anywhere are excellent. Ground transportation is easy due to abundant and inexpensive taxis.
Hotels are excellent in Qatar and a great value. All of the major hotels have landmark properties in Doha including the Marriott, Westin, Crowne Plaza, Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons. My favourite is the Saint Regis Hotel but there are a great many from which to choose. All the properties are a good value when compared to their European sister properties. If you are looking for a budget option, there are many comfortable options like the Millennium Plaza Hotel, the Warwick Hotel and the Murwab Hotel. All are new, clean and offer exceptional service.
Shoppers delights in the wonderful Souks! Don’t forget to stop for Shisha
Hotels are licensed to sell alcohol, so the best restaurants are in hotels. World-famous chefs are beginning to notice Doha and are opening iconic eateries in Qatar including Guy Savoy with his Quisine. Because of the diversity of its inhabitants, any type of food is available with excellent quality and good value. I enjoy Mykonos for Greek seafood specialities and Ipanema for excellent Brazilian food. Layal has traditional Lebanese food popular throughout the region. There are excellent Indian, Chinese and even Japanese options. In Qatar, You won’t go hungry unless you try to do so!
I highly recommend Qatar as an interesting and comfortable location for a visit!