Everything you need to know about the Middle East’s Cosmopolitan Bride: Qatar

Qatar, Doha, Skyscrapers, Night

Updated On: June 07, 2024 by   Omnia EssawyOmnia Essawy

The Middle East is quite a fantastic place with its countless gems and beauties, magnificent heritage, incredible nature, and astounding personality; one can even dare to say it borders on mystical. So, standing out among this much beauty can’t be easy. However, this is precisely what Qatar managed to do. 

Although one of the smallest nations in the Middle East and around the Arabian Gulf, Qatar is one of the most luxurious countries in the region. It offers an incredible variety of leisure and entertainment options that suit the needs of any type of traveller. 

No matter what you seek in a travel destination, there is almost a 100% chance you’ll find it here. Effortlessly combining the traditional Eastern culture with the leisure and metropolitan nature of modern countries, this Middle Eastern gem offers something for everyone. If you seek luxury and leisure, the country’s capital has world-class hotels, resorts, spas, and restaurants. If you seek adventure and edgy experiences, Qatar offers everything from kayaking and dune bashing to skydiving. If you seek art and culturally enriching experiences, museums, galleries, and exhibitions will leave your mind and soul humbled and amazed. 

So, before you start planning your trip to this Middle Eastern gem, here are a few things you should know. 

Best Time to Visit

Qatar, Doha, Gulf, Water, Boats
Doha, Gulf, Water, Boats

One of the best things about Qatar is how warm and beautiful the weather is almost all year round. Thanks to its location on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, it features a mostly dry and subtropical climate with hot and humid summers and a meager chance of rainfall in the winter. 

The weather can be generally divided into two seasons: the hot season from May to October and the incredible season from December to February. Since the country’s Summer tends to get very hot and humid, the best time to visit is usually from December to February to enjoy the cooler temperatures and mild weather. 

Getting There

Qatar Airways, Planes, Flying, Clouds
Qatar Airways, Planes, Flying, Clouds

The country’s main airport is Doha Hamed International Airport in the capital city of Al Doha. Qatar Airways is the national airline of the country, linking it to more than 160 destinations worldwide. Several other airlines fly to and from Qatar, such as Asiana, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Air India, Turkish Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and many more. 

Moving Around

The country is relatively small, about 160 kilometres from north to south and 80 kilometres from east to west. Therefore, it is ideal to explore and wander around by car.

Most of the country’s roads radiate from the capital, Doha, and all are very well-maintained and easy and enjoyable to travel. However, sudden weather changes, such as sandstorms or sudden floods, do affect the quality and safety of the roads, so beware of your timing. 

Where to Stay 

As one of the Middle East’s most luxurious and metropolitan cities, Qatar’s capital, Doha, is filled with various 5-star hotels, resorts, and nightlife venues. Here is a list of some of the best and highest rated Hotels to choose from: 

  • Dusit Doha Hotel 
  • Marsa Malaz Kempinskii,The Pearl 
  • Four Season Hotel Doha 
  • Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel 
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Doha 
  • Kempinski Residences & Suites, Doha 
  • Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara 
  • InterContinental Doha Hotel, an IHG Hotel 
  • The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa 
  • Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel 

Another accommodation option popularly favoured by visitors is camping. Many tour organizers and operators organize overnight camps in the desert near Khor Al Adaid so tourists can enjoy a taste of the traditional under a blanket of sparkling stars. So, if you are looking for an authentic back-to-nature experience, you should definitely consider spending a night camping out in the exquisite Qatar desert. 

The Food & Drinks Scene 

Qatar has an impressive range of quality dining experiences and is one of the most upcoming tourist destinations. The fanciest and most luxurious options are usually found in 5-star hotels. Souq Wafiq is also a trendy choice for food, especially Middle Eastern cuisine. 

The country’s cuisine is highly influenced by several international cuisines such as the Indian, the Irani, the Levant, and the North African. Some of the most popular dishes and specialities of the country are Kousa Mahshi (stuffed zucchinis), Umm Ali (bread pudding with nuts and raisins), Ghuzi (a whole roast lamb served with rice and nuts), Mehalabiya (rose water and pistachio pudding), and of course, the Machboos (slow-cooked muttons served with yoghurt) which is considered to be the country’s national dish. 

Some of the Best Restaurants: 

  • Damasca One 
  • Al Aker 
  • Argan 
  • Al Jazeera Media Cafe 
  • Sukar Pasha Ottoman Lounge 

Best Things to Do & See In Qatar

Despite how small Qatar may seem, one dares to say it has just about everything one looks for in a trip destination, be it museums, beaches, local markets, high-end malls and shops, world-class nightlife venues, and of course, the country’s famous rugged and raw nature. So, let’s take a deeper look at some of the best and must-see attractions in this beautiful joker of a country…

The Museum of Islamic Art, Doha 

Doha, Museum of Islamic Art
Doha, Museum of Islamic Art

Designed by architect I.M. Pei, the Museum of Islamic Art is built just off the city’s Corniche, so from certain angles, it appears to be floating on water. 

The museum has a unique and impressive collection of glassworks, textiles, ceramics, paintings, Islamic patterns, jewellery, and Calligraphy. Some of the items in this vast collection date back to the 7th century. You can easily view the museum’s incredible collection in any high-profile rotation exhibitions organized all year round by the museum. 

For a one-of-a-kind culinary experience, try the food at Idam, the on-site three-Michelin-starred restaurant run by French chef Alain Ducasse. Also, make sure to spare time to view the city of Doha from the outdoor terrace on the museum’s top floor, as it offers a breathtaking and one-of-a-kind view of the city, as well as high-end cuisine and highly rated service. 

Souq Waqif, Doha 

Souq Wafiq, Doha, Qatar
Souq Wafiq, Doha

You can’t visit Qatar without making time to explore Doha’s iconic standing market, Souq Waqif. Here, you can jump back in time and get a true and rare sense of the old Qatar. 

Souq Waqif has a lot of EVERYTHING: shops, local vendors, bazaars, workshops, traditional eateries and restaurants, and more. If you want to shop for authentic Middle Eastern merchandise and themed souvenirs to bring back from your trip, Souq Waqif should definitely be on your itinerary. You will find everything from fabric and handmade items to spices, perfumes, and traditional sweets and snacks there. Of course, we can’t forget the vast collection of souvenirs, culturally-themed products, and accessories that will make for some truly memorable gifts for your loved ones back home. 

Souq Waqif is also filled with traditional restaurants, a variety of cafes, and conventional shisha lounges where you can relax and enjoy the authentic atmosphere and surroundings of the one and only Souq Waqif. 

Doha’s Corniche & Dhows 

Qatar, Doha, Corniche
Doha, Corniche

Although you may not consider a Corniche an attraction, the beautiful Doha Corniche definitely is. Walking along the seven-kilometre Doha Corniche that stretches across the Persian Gulf is a perfect way to spend an afternoon. If talking is too plain an activity for you, you can opt for flying a kite, having a coffee while overlooking the pristine water of the Persian Gulf, or even working out on any fitness machines installed along the Corniche for public use. 

To enjoy an even better view of the incredible capital, take a dhow ride at night to experience the city up close without view obstructions. 

The Desert 

Qatar, Doha, Desert
Doha, Desert

You can’t visit Qatar without reconnecting with the pure, rugged nature found only in the sand desert. The Qatari desert offers what could easily be one of the most mesmerizing sunrise viewing experiences, in addition, of course, to incredible stargazing conditions thanks to the clear night desert sky. 

Another wildly popular activity in the desert is dune bashing and sand surfing. However, the dunes of this desert are as steep as they are high, so practice caution as you drive or surf up and down those steep dunes. 

For a complete experience, you can spend the night in a luxury Arabian tent or pitch your own and enjoy a relaxing and enchanting night under the sparkling stars. 

The East-West/West-East Artwork

Standing tall and alone in the empty desert land of the Barouq nature reserve, 60 kilometres northwest of Doha, is the iconic East-West/West-East Artwork installation, created and envisioned by the international sculptor Richard Serra. 

This incredibly unique artwork project consists of four 15-meter-tall steel plates standing firmly along a one-kilometer corridor from the desert to the sea. 

Thanks to those four sculptures, people worldwide flock to the Brouq nature reserve to see Serra’s artwork up close and capture a few shots against this one-of-a-kind backdrop. 

The Pearl, Doha 

Qatar, Doha, The Pearl
Doha, The Pearl

The Pearl is an artificial island north of West Bay that spans nearly four million square meters. This man-made island off the coast of Doha has quickly become an icon and symbol of class, luxury, and lavish lifestyle. 

The Pearl is filled with yachts, high-end shops and stores, and luxurious villas and mansions in lavish gated communities, giving you an in-depth look into the lifestyle lived by the Qatari upper class. 

That’s not all you will find when you pay a visit to the Pearl. This rightfully nicknamed ‘Arabian Riviera’ is filled with a variety of waterfront high-end restaurants serving international haute cuisine, high-class entertainment, and some of the best and classiest cruise options found anywhere in Qatar. 

The Katara Cultural Village, Doha  

Also known as the Valley of Cultures, the Katara Culture Village acts as a beacon to tourists and natives alike who seek an incomparable feast of culture, science, history, and art. 

Located on the way to The Pearl, this Valley of Cultures comprises a maze of passages and waterways that go through it, featuring several spaces for artists, photographers, and even filmmakers. Thanks to those several activities and cultural displays, the Katara Cultural Village is considered the best place in the country to get a pure taste of the Qatari culture and heritage, as well as other cultures and traditions. 

You can never run out of things to do in this incredible cultural gem. It has everything you might need to visit during your stay: an opera house, art galleries, a theater, heritage centres, and several academic facilities. 

That’s not all. The Katara Cultural Village also holds multiple festivals, such as the Palestinian Heritage Festival and the famous Traditional Dhow Festival. This is in addition to concerts and musical performances, the most popular of which are those by the iconic Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. 

On top of all previously mentioned, the Katara Cultural Village offers a variety of culinary options from international restaurants, cafes, and food stands. 

Jump Out Of an Airplane with Skydiving Doha 

You probably thought Qatar was all about luxurious restaurants, high-end shopping malls, and culturally enriching museums. However, as we have repeatedly elaborated, this country has something for everyone, even adrenaline junkies and adventure-seekers. 

So, after pampering your mind with a decadent meal of art and culture, ditch the classy clothes, strap on a parachute and get ready to shock your heart and soul with an intensive shot of pure adrenaline by jumping out of an aeroplane and flying above the vast and breathtaking city of Doha. 

It will probably put your mind at ease to know that Skydiving Qatar has a perfect safety record and highly experienced instructors, so you can embark on that adventure knowing you’ll be in very good and capable hands. 

Al Thakira Mangroves 

This is another wonder of this small yet vast country and one of its most unique and iconic spots. The Mangroves of Al Thakira are a large area of water and greenery in the middle of the sandy desert.

Incredibly enough, this stand-alone land of plants and water is, in fact, filled with birdlife. Herons and flamingos have even been known to migrate there for years. 

The best way to enjoy the mangroves and take it all in is to rent a kayak and experience the unique surroundings. You will easily forget you are, in fact, in the desert. 

After spending some time in Qatar, don’t hesitate to check out what else the Middle East has in store for you. The area promises not to disappoint. 

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