Top 6 Experiences to Enjoy when Travelling in Qatar

11 November, 2016
  1. Indulge in an Luxurious Shopping and Dining Experience at the Pearl Qatar

The Pearl Qatar, located in Doha, is where you can enjoy the finer things in life. Built on an artificial island which resembles a string of gleaming pearls, at one of Qatar’s major pearl diving sites in the country’s history, the name – The Pearl Qatar pays homage to Qatar’s reputation as a leading pearl trader in Asia.

the-pearl

Photo credit: Qatar Tourism Authority

It is often dubbed as the Beverly Hills of Qatar because the largest of the islands host a range of luxury villas and 3 five-star hotels.

You can also find luxury brands from around the world e.g. Hermes, Balenciaga, Salvatore Ferragamo at The Pearl Qatar – perfect for luxury shopaholics. Take a break from shopping by whetting your appetite with full range of cuisines from South American to French to Middle Eastern and Japanese, through to casual cafes for quick bites and leisurely catch-ups.

The Pearl-Qatar is a 35-minute drive from Hamad International Airport. The best way to get to there is by car or taxi.

  1. Appreciate the Majestic Architecture and Treasure Trove of Qatar’s Art, History and Culture at the Museum of Islamic Art

The museum is designed by Pritzker Prize-winning veteran architect I.M. Pei (best known for his work in designing the landmark glass pyramid in the forecourt of the Louvre), who came out of retirement to design the Museum of Islamic Arts. The majestic structure of the museum draws a lot of influence from ancient Islamic architecture, notably the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo.

museum-of-islamic-art qatar

Photo credit: Qatar Tourism Authority

Five-storeys high, it houses wealth of Islamic art and a treasure trove of historical resources, boasting an impressive collection of ceramics, glass, metalwork, manuscripts and textiles dating back to the seventh century. You also have the opportunity to learn more about Qatar’s heritage and culture with Behind‐The‐Scenes tours and Thursday Late Tours, creating their very own artworks, inspired by historic pieces from Islamic civilisation in a workshop.

Entrance is Free and photo taking is allowed without flash. There are no charges to the permanent galleries.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed, Sun 10.30am – 5.30pm
Thu, Sat 12pm – 8pm
Fri 2pm – 8pm
Closed on Tuesdays

The Museum of Islamic Arts is a 15-minute drive from Hamad International Airport. The best way to get to the museum is by car or taxi.

3.    Explore the labyrinth of shops and stalls in the Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif means standing market. Back then, the market was very close to the harbor. When the high tide comes, traders have to lift their goods and stand to trade hence Souq Waqif.

This Souq is more than 100 years old and a cultural hotspot. Both locals and tourists love to hang out and explore the Souq. Souq Waqif includes a covered labyrinth lined with shops and stalls selling souvenirs, spices, handicrafts, gold, falconry and more.

Waqif Souk in Doha QatarPhoto credit: Qatar Tourism Authority

Here are our top five picks not to be missed in the Souq Waqif:

A) Savor the spices

Wafting through alleyways and shops, the aroma of spices at once dizzying and incredible. Scoop up thyme, coriander, mint, turmeric, chili, cumin and so much more – this market is every foodie’s dream and will inspire you to cook up a storm.

B) Coo over cute pets

Animal and pet lovers will enjoy the rows of shops selling domestic pets. You can find dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and turtles amongst others, with an astounding variety of breeds to captivate your imagination.
C) Admire the falcons

Close to the Souq Waqif, the Falcon Souq delivers an interest insight into the sport of falconry. Here, you can find over a dozen shops that sell falcons and related paraphernalia, such as hoods, stands, gloves and leashes. The falcons can sell for $600 to as much as a whopping $100,000, depending upon the skill of a particular bird. There’s even a falcon hospital on the grounds of the Souq.

Revered as one of the most prized and expensive birds in the Gulf, visitors even have the rare opportunity to get up close with a falcon and have their photo taken with the bird perched on their arm.

D) Starstruck by gold

Be dazzled as you weave your way through the maze of shops specialising in local and imported jewellery made from gold or silver. Pieces including diamonds, pearls and other stones are widely available, so you will surely find some baubles to tickle your fancy. All gold jewellery sold in Qatar has a government stamp ensuring its purity, so shoppers can be assured of their purchases. Most items are priced by weight, depending on the value of gold that day. This part of the souq is especially lively in the evening.

E) Feast on dessert

Kunafeh is a Turkish dessert soaked in sweet sugar syrup, which in itself already sounds like a delectable confection. This treat makes for a great snack as you wander around the Souq. While many shops in the Souq sell it, we recommend Al Aker for one of the best Kunafeh around.

Souq Waqif is open daily from 10am to noon before reopening again from 4pm to 10pm.

Address: Grand Hamed Street behind the Corniche, Doha

The Souq Waqif is a 15-minute drive from Hamad International Airport. The best way to get to there is by car or taxi.

 

  1. Experience Qatar’s Multi-Cultural Activities at the Katara Cultural Village

Katara is Qatar’s focal point for multi-cultural activities, with concerts, fashion show and art exhibition throughout the year. Katara also hots educational events, photographic competition and charity bazaar and has art studio.

Not sure where to start, I recommend that you start with one of the Cultural Village’s gems – the Katara Amphitheatre. Bringing together the classical Greek theatre concept with the everlasting Islamic features, it stands poised in the heart of Katara, beneath piercingly blue skies and overlooking the shimmering sea. This 3,275 sqm landmark has a seating capacity of 5000. It pays homage to the great tradition of the unique architectural style associated with amphitheatres and is set to host some of the most spectacular world-class events in Doha.

katara qatar

Photo credit: Qatar Tourism Authority

Katara Cultural Village also offers tourist a glimpse of the architectural ingenuity of the Bedouin people. Do check out the weekend market (Friday – Saturday) here, it is by the beach.

The Village also play hosts to the Katara Opera House which is the home to the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra which is also fast becoming a hub for some of the world’s leading performers. A blend of cutting-edge architecture and traditional Islamic design, the Opera House seats up to 550 people and offers an unparalleled luxurious cultural experience.

The Cultural Village of Katara is a 30-minute drive from Hamad International Airport. The best way to get there is by car or taxi.

5.    Go on an Adventure with Dune Bashing and Camel Riding at Khor Al-Adaid

Just an hour away, south of Doha lies one of Qatar most impressive natural wonders, Khor Al- Adaid which means Inland Sea. A UNESCO recognized natural reserve, Khor Al-Adaid is one of the few places in the world where the sea encroaches deep into the heart of the desert. The place is inaccessible by road and only by 4×4 across the sand dune.

The pleasant winter sunshine and idyllic locations make desert camping a popular activity during cooler month between October and April. This is another way to enjoy life under the stars and experience the Bedouin life of the old.

This is the only place in the world where you can observe this rapid process of sand dunes traversing the flat surface into the sea and continually prograding the sabkha (salt flat) in a seaward direction. Little wonder, then, that Khor Al-Adaid is in line to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Out here at Khor Al-Adaid, you can opt for a tranquil night basking under the stars, or pack your days with action with sand skiing, quad-biking and 4WD racing in its sand dunes.

khor-al-adaid

Photo credit: Qatar Tourism Authority

As Qatar is a desert country, sand sports are very popular and licensed to thrill. Many tour agencies now offer one-day or overnight activity packages in Khor Al-Adaid. Since the sand dunes are practically inaccessible without a vehicle, it is best to have a reputable guide take you around as they are familiar with the region. Here are our top three picks to get your adrenaline pumping:

a. Dune bashing

Like a roller coaster on sand, except there are no tracks. You will be driving straight up dunes, cresting along the edge before plummeting down again. If you have heart problems, get car sick or you’re pregnant, this is not the sport for you. Do not attempt this on your own and never with a rented car. Hire a tour company to take you on a desert safari. It is not ideal in summer and not suitable on a full stomach. End the excitement with a stroll on the beach and a dip in the Arabian Gulf before heading back to the skyscrapers of Doha.

b. Sand boarding

A similar sport to snowboarding, except it takes place on sand dunes rather than snow-capped mountains. Sandboarding uses a wakeboard, except you don’t have a boat or rope to hold on to. You find the highest peak of a sand dune, put your feet into the straps of the board, stand up with your knees bent and then let gravity do the rest. Sand skiing, where dunes are ridden using traditional style skis, is also popular. The inland sea or Khor Al-Adaid has many giant sand dunes perfect for practising both sports.

c. Off-Road Driving

Exploring the Qatari desert in a four-wheel drive vehicle, quad bike or dune buggy and camping are popular pastimes. There are a number of tour operators who offer guided exploratory tours of the desert, followed by evening or overnight safari camping. Some tour operators offer desert driving lessons for beginner off-roaders, and there are a handful of off-road driving clubs for 4×4 enthusiasts.

Going on an organised tour is the best way to see Khor Al-Adaid. Overnight tours often include folkloric entertainment and a barbecue, as well as camping equipment.

The Khor Al-Adaid is a 1-hour drive from Hamad International Airport. The best way to get there is by a 4-wheeled drive.

 

  1. Savoring Qatar’s Diverse Dining Options at the Qatar International Food Festival

The Qatar International Food Festival is held annually around March. This year, it was held from 16th– 22nd March 2016 at the country’s Museum of Islamic Art Park. The seven-day festival showcases Qatar’s diverse dining options combined with local and international cuisine, across more than 60 diverse food stalls, as well as cultural and hospitality experiences.

There are interesting food experiences for all visitors e.g. a casual ‘food truck’ concept organized on a beach at The Pearl Qatar. For thrill seekers, diners can take to the sky for a delectable three-course meal, elevated 40 meters in the air with the ‘Dinner In The Sky’ experience which is being organized by the Qatar Airways inflight catering. For more relaxed family dining, visitors can savour many of the flavours from the individual stalls and hotel outlets.

qatar-sky-dining-international-food-festival

Fringe activities like ‘Qatar Airways Cooking Theatre’ zone for visitors to pick up a few cooking tips to use back home. There are also a variety of events for the whole family with special zones for children and music entertainment, including jazz, traditional Oud players, and musicians. For more information, see: http://www.qifoodfestival.com

There are flights connecting Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong to Qatar directly via Qatar Airways daily. Flight time is about 7.5 hours from Singapore to Doha by Qatar Airways. You can obtain a 30-day visa upon arrival at immigration checkpoint for 100 Qatari Riyal

Qatar Weather and Climate (and when is the best time to visit Qatar):

  • January: Coldest (temperature between 9 to 12 degree celsius)
  • July: Humid
  • September: Rainy
  • October to March: Autumn to Winter Season – BEST Time to Visit!

Check out the latest Singapore to Qatar (Doha) airfare promotions, Qatar travel package deals and Doha city hopper packages here at http://www.airfares.com.sg/promotions/qatar/index.htm

qatar-misa-travel

 

 

Zhiqiang & Tingyi

Comment (1)

  • bathReply

    2 February, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks for giving an amazing information about the places in doha’

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