I’ve always been fascinated by the middle east, especially Dubai, but when the opportunity to visit Doha, Qatar came up I jumped on it. Unique Experiences in Doha, Qatar 2018 sounded good to me. I’m intrigued by places where people wouldn’t often think of going on holiday, and Qatar is one of those places. I didn’t know much about Qatar, other than it’s a small peninsula country surrounded by the waters of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East, and that Doha ( Capital city ) is pretty quiet with not too much to do for your average visitor. But I spent five days in this beautiful city and it was the perfect amount of time for a few unique experiences in Doha, Qatar.
FLIGHT & HOTEL:
Flying Qatar Airways I landed late at Hamad International Airport eager to visit the fast-growing Qatar capital. I checked into my beautiful hotel, W Doha just before midnight and sleep got the best of me. I was exhausted, I literally washed my face, brushed my teeth and fell asleep across the bed.
The next morning I woke up to the most beautiful view. I’m a water person so the fact that the view from my room consisted of Persian Gulf was amazing, I was in love!
Prior to my trip, I did some research on what clothing items to pack as I know Qatar is an Islamic country. Many of the local Qatari women are fully covered, wearing a burqa, with only their eyes showing. The men wear long white shirts and loose pants, with a headdress called gutra. I kept itmodest and conservative during my trip, mostly packing tops that covered my shoulders and long dresses/pants that went past my knees.
I’d previously experienced the desert heat when I spent time in Las Vegas, BUT nothing could prepare me for the what I experienced walking out my hotel in Doha – It was insane. 🎶 ‘Feeling Hot Hot Hot’ ~ The Merrymen 🎶
It was time to explore the city and Souq Waqifcame highly recommended from a number of people I spoke to pre-trip. I had a blast walking around the maze-like alleys. There was a fantastic vibe as the stall-holders worked to sell their items. It was busy, but never too crowded and very clean. Although redeveloped, Souq Waqif retained a lot of old world charm. The outer part of Souq Waqifis lined with restaurants, but the interior is filled with narrow alleys that sell almost anything. If you’re any good at bartering, you may be able to get a few Riyals knocked off the asking price. 🙂 Looking for hand-crafted fabrics, you can find it here, want jewelry, yep, you can find it here also, even pets are sold here. I quickly made friends with a bird handler and his pretty birds.
Across the street from Souq Waqif was the impressive Fanar, Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre, a spirally building which is featured on a lot of postcards of Qatar. It’s one of the most widely known architectural landmarks in Doha and offers a unique opportunity to attend the khutbah (Friday sermon) in English. I was disappointed it wasn’t Friday when I stopped by, nonetheless this building was a beautiful sight.
The morning of my dessert adventure was filled with excitement because this was the main purpose of my trip! Of course, there were a few reasons I wanted to visit this middle eastern country, but the main reason was the dessert. My friend, who happened to be working in Doha met me at the W Doha for an early breakfast before our driver picked us up.
Once our bellies were stuffed we hopped into the Land Cruise 4W and took off for the desert. Outside of Doha itself, the majority parts of Qatar is largely empty and, well …, it’s dessert. The Arabian Desert stretches off to the north and to the south, and the main draw to these parts of Qatar are the dunes.
After driving for about an hour we made a quick stop to gas up, get some water and lower the pressure of the tires, before approaching the sand. Dune bashing and camping for the weekend are major highlights for many locals so I was excited to see what the fuss was all about.
Well … Talk about an adrenaline rush, our Land Cruise 4W whipped us side to side over the untouched sand, it was kind of like a roller-coaster ride but using a Land Cruise 4W. Whoo Hoo!!! Talk about fun! Before I continue I must say our driver was a pro, although he had us screaming in his ear the whole ride he masterfully handled the vehicle across the sand dunes. Dune bashing was simply awesome, I had so much fun experiencing the desert in this way and I highly recommend to anyone visiting. One of the best things about Doha in my opinion and I can’t wait to do it again one day.
The sand dunes in Qatar are simply enchanting, and our full day in the dessert also included a camel ride as well as a visit to traditional Bedouin camps where we stopped and rested in one of the tents before heading back to Doha.
ISLAMIC MUSEUM OF ART:
After a full day two, I decided to sleep in before heading to the Islamic Museum of Art. The Islamic Museum of Art houses the largest collection of Islamic art in the world and was designed by the famous architect I. M. Pei (probably better-known for his glass pyramid outside of the Louvre in Paris). I love art, I can’t draw to save my life, but I have a huge appreciation for people who can take a vision and physically turn it into something beautiful. The museum was magnificent from the outside. The interior design is spectacular and the historical collections are overwhelming with numerous masterpieces of Islamic art. The museum experience went far beyond my expectation.
After spending hours in the museum taking in Islamic art from three continents I made my way back to the W Doha and dinned at the fabulous Spice Market located on the first floor of the hotel. The Spice Market had an attractive menu of various items to choose from. The food was excellent, particularly the sushi; it’s really good. Overall, the restaurant was a hit and the service was second to none.
I love watching sports, especially basketball, so when I found out there was a professional basketball league in Qatar I had to catch a game. I showed up at Al Gharafa Sports Club Hall just in time for game time and expected to be guided into the gym by loud cheering and noise, boy was I wrong. The stadium was insanely quiet. I wasn’t sure I had the right place until I opened the doors to the court and saw both teams getting ready to tip-off. This had the be the quietest basketball game I’ve EVER been to. My sneakers made more noise walking in than the crowd. I quickly understood why it was quiet, there were no fans in the stands. I’m not kidding,. Besides myself, there was literally one man sitting in the important seats so I figured he was the GM. THAT WAS IT! He and I watched the Qatar Professional Basketball Game in silence.
The Pearl Qatar is a manmade island in the shape of two inter-linked horseshoes, kind of like The Palm in Dubai. All the canals and the buildings had their own charm and it was really nice to see. I spent quite a bit of time at the marina admiring the skyline, the restaurants and the huge array of yachts and boats.
As nice as The Pearl is during the day, I might have enjoyed it slightly better at night. There are different visuals walking around the Pearl at night time. The soft glow of the lights from surrounding buildings glimmering off the water was gorgeous.
Doha is a city definitely worth visiting. Matter of fact I’ve now added Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to my bucket list.