One of the richest (and smallest) countries in the world, Qatar in the past may have been dwarfed by the glitz and glamour of its Middle Eastern neighbours like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but that is slowly changing. There are luxury hotels popping up left, right and centre, though particularly in the capital city of Doha where all the action is centred. Rising up from the sand between the dunes and the sea, Doha is a fast-growing city where contemporary buildings stand stand-by-side with ancient mosques and markets, making for a fascinating mix of tradition and modernity that begs to be explored further.
There are intriguing museums and art galleries, like the Museum of Islamic Arts found on the cusp of Doha’s Al-Corniche, or the Souq Waqif where you can glimpse everyday life taking place in this important marketplace. Other activities in Qatar include dune bashing in the desert, looking out for resident gazelles, oryxes and camels along the way, or taking a dhow ride over the bay, looking back over Doha’s impressive skyline. That said, a beach holiday in Qatar won’t disappoint either, with plenty of luxury hotels to choose from that flaunt their own private beaches, with shopping malls and restaurants to enjoy in between moments spent soaking up the sun in style.
From cultural experiences to outdoor pursuits, you're certain to find something to do in Qatar. One of our favourite activities in Qatar is shopping the souqs of the capital, Doha whether it’s picking up local spice mixes or seeing falcons on display. Outside the capital you can go on a guided kayaking tour through the Al Thakira Mangroves or explore the UNESCO-recognised Khor Al Adaid home to abundant wildlife and only accessible by a thrilling 4X4 ride over the desert dunes! Travelling between October - February? Don’t miss the camel racing competitions every Friday at the Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack.
Qatar Food & Drink
Qatari food and drink is influenced by its regional neighbours and beyond from Iran to North Africa. Dishes tend to be hearty and made to be shared communally – our top tip to remember is that locals only ever pass food with their right hand and you should try to do so too. A mix of sweet and savoury flavours is common whether it’s balaleet (noodles seasoned with sugar, cardamom, rose water and saffron) or the sweet, spiced karak tea. And while coffee is an integral part of Qatari society – in fact it’s considered rude to refuse a cup if offered – alcohol is only served in hotel bars in restaurants.
Qatar has its fair share of not-to-be-missed cultural attractions. Top of our list for any visitor is the Museum of Islamic Art: not only an architectural wonder, it showcases over 14 centuries worth of Islamic art and artefacts. Around an hour from Doha is the 20th century Al Zubarah Fort, a former stronghold and now a museum with many artefacts from the country’s pearl diving era. Back in the capital, the seven kilometre-long Corniche is a popular waterfront hotspot for locals and tourists alike – we recommend taking a sunset dhow cruise to take in the striking modern skyline.
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