With Qatar Airways commencing its Dublin-Doha Dreamliner service on 12th June 2017, Neil Steedman reported on Qatar as a new Middle East destination or stopover in ITTN’s April issue.
A new free transit visa scheme was introduced on 1st November 2016 and a new stopover programme offers all transit passengers flying on Qatar Airways the opportunity to enter and explore Qatar on a pre-arranged free entry visa for up to 96 hours. To arrange this visa, go to: www.qatarairways.com/uk/en/qatar-transit-visa.page
Visitors can discover a fascinating taste of local culture and traditions, have an action-packed break or simply escape the cold and enjoy a warm relaxing sunshine escape. Whether it’s adrenaline pumping ‘dune bashing’ across the desert in a 4×4, discovering an authentic taste of traditional life and local architecture in the bustling alleys of the Souq Waqif, experiencing the awe-inspiring art collections at the Museum of Islamic Art, or simply enjoying a warm relaxing sunshine escape while indulging in delicious local cuisine, Qatar offers endless opportunities, activities and events to those exploring this Arabian treasure.
The jewel in Qatar’s cultural crown and a ‘must-see’ is the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). This internationally renowned treasure house contains some 14 centuries of the finest art and artefacts from across the Islamic world and is designed by the celebrated architect IM Pei.
Enjoy a leisurely lunch by the marina on The Pearl-Qatar or dine in one of the city’s other fantastic gastronomy venues. Qatar’s foodie scene continues to flourish and is home to venues including the world’s largest Nobu and two Gordon Ramsay restaurants. Traditional options can be discovered in restaurants such as Al Mourjan, which offers stunning views across the Corniche, or the Shay Al Shoomos restaurant in the heart of the Souq Waqif, which serves authentic local cuisine and coffee.
For an authentic taste of Arab street life and local architecture, nothing can beat a wander through the bustling lanes of Souq Waqif. Besides the treasures on offer, it is a lively dining and entertainment spot, ideal for people-watching. The Gold Souq is also nearby if you have a little longer to explore.
Spend the evening relaxing on Doha Bay on a traditional Dhow boat cruise and enjoy the spectacular panoramic views of the Corniche and Doha’s glittering skyline.
Take in the major sights of Doha on a ‘Hop on, Hop off’ Doha Bus city tour and then head south out of the city to one of Qatar’s UNESCO-recognised sites, Khor Al Adaid (Inland Sea). The Inland Sea is an impressive natural phenomenon and one of the few places in the world where the sea encroaching deep into the heart of the desert can be witnessed. Inaccessible by road, this tranquil expanse of water can only be reached crossing the rolling dunes.
A desert safari is an experience not to be missed, besides a heart-stopping ride over the dunes in a 4×4, safaris may include camel riding, sand boarding or driving a quad bike. Round the day off with a delicious moonlit Bedouin-style barbeque under the stars.
Explore outside of Doha by taking a journey north to Al Zubara Fort and archaeological site (top photo), or out west to the Camel Races at Shahaniya and then onward to the Zekreet Peninsula. Here unspoilt beaches, wind-carved rock formations and the awe-inspiring East-West/West-East public sculpture by Richard Serra can be found.
After a busy day, unwind poolside or at one of Doha’s many luxury hotels and spas. Refreshed and revitalised, spend the evening at Katara Cultural Village, taking in the sights, entertainment and cultural offerings.
For more information on Qatar, visit: www.visitqatar.qa