Visit Qatar besides the World Cup 2022

You can visit Qatar anytime besides the Football World Cup 2022.  Even so, from the next November 20 to December 18, Qatar will organize this worldwide event. The country applied almost twelve years ago for the first time and finally almost twelve years ago the International Football Federation (FIFA) awarded Qatar with the approval to host the event. 

Qatar is a young country in the middle of the Persian Gulf. Until 1971 it was a protectorate of the United Kingdom. It is small, crazy hot in summer and with a high percentage of immigrant workers among its population. The country is rich thanks to the petrodollar incomes. 

The development of Doha, the capital, from being a fishermen’s small town in the sixties to becoming an important international hub and business center has been fast and massive. Despite the history of the country being very much in parallel with many emirates of the Gulf the relationship with its neighbors has not always been easy. Nowadays, Qatar is an important partner of many Western and not that Western countries and this November 2022 it will present itself as the center of the football lovers’ world.

What to expect when you visit Qatar

Many travelers have stopped in Doha for a connection flight. Some others have even spent a night, jumping into a hotel in a taxi to rest on a quick and necessary stopover. Very few of them have taken the advantage of visiting and discover this interesting country of the Middle East. 

Photo by Kazuo ota on Unsplash
Photo by Kazuo ota on Unsplash

It is not a bad idea to spend more than two or three days in Doha, and experience a very exotic time there for Europeans or Americans. Doha can offer a sample of the Arab lifestyle with traditional buildings, a real local culture, traditional outfits everywhere and good taste for food and entertainment. 

Enjoy like the locals when you visit Qatar

Locals enjoy shopping at malls and drinking branded coffees in sophisticated cafès. Nevertheless, Doha is more than a city with cultural activities and can provide excursions to nature to practice outdoor sports. A local custom to spend their leisure time is to go out into the desert with a 4×4, go through the dunes and return home or spend the night under the stars. 

Qatar World Cup 2022

Visitors can also do that on organized tours with expert drivers to run, go up and down the dunes, an adventure that usually leads to the border with Saudi Arabia and ends in tents facing the sea, where they have lunch, dinner and good sleep. 

Adrenaline and tranquility are both possible in the country. As a tourist you can take a camel off-road excursion or get into some amazing beaches just to relax under the sun next to the turquoise waters of the Gulf. After, you will be always welcome to admire the city, of in the haze, from any of its many view points.

Best places to visit in Qatar

Here below you will find a selection of the best places to see in Qatar. 

The National Museum of Qatar

The National Museum, a modern building built in imitation of desert roses and erected by the Jean Nouvelean Nouvel architecture studio in Doha.

Msheireb

The center of Msheireb is also known as the smart city of Qatar as it has been designed with all the means and infrastructures that cities will incorporate throughout this century. The area is a residential and business center and also has some museums. Several brands of international hotel chains have also landed in this area, such as Mandarin Oriental, Park Hyatt or the Musherib and The Town hotel.

Qatar World Cup 2022

Msheireb Museums

This is a cultural museum split in four buildings that form an integral part of an interpretation center. The names  of the different spaces are Bin Jelmood House, Mohammad Bin Jassim House, The Company House and The Radwani House. In the Msheireb Museums you can understand the evolution of the country from being a fishermen village to a powerful oil state in the Middle East, with powerful allies.  

Katara Cultural Village

The Katara Cultural Village is an important cultural centre for events such as concerts or temporary exhibitions. Katara has an open-air theater, two mosques, large gardens, several art galleries, archives, and training centers. 

Islamic Art Museum of Qatar

This is the greatest art museum of the country. It Can compete with the Museum of Islamic Civilization of Sharjah in its art collection. The building floats on the waters of the Persian Gulf and it is an architecture icon by itself. Inside, the visitor can admire a diverse collection, from original Korans to ceramics or glassware very well distributed and coming from almost all the Arabic countries.

Photo by John Simmons on Unsplash
Photo by John Simmons on Unsplash

Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif is a real classic souk. It is the oldest traditional market in Qatar. It has many labyrinthic streets full of stalls, shopping options and surprises. 

Doha Festival City

Doha Festival City is the main Shopping Mall of the country. The visitor can find the most important international brand and several entertainment options such as cinema, theater and many restaurants. 

The Pearl

The pearl is an artificial residential island, with single-family houses, shops and all kinds of gastronomic offerings. 

The National Library

The Qatar National Library is one of the most beautiful of its kind in the world. It is quite new since it opened its doors just in 2013. The National library preserves the written heritage and culture of the Arabian Gulf. It also cares about social learning and development for Qataris and residents by being one of the best centers of learning and research in the world. The visit of this perfect example of a National Library is a must-do for culture lovers.  

The Underground Railroad 

From 2019 it is possible to travel part of it in its brand new metro, one of the prides of Qatar. The Doha Underground Railway is one of the most advanced mass transit systems in the world. It already has three lines, 76 kilometers and 37 stations, several of them interchange. Most of the latter are worth visiting beyond being used from an aesthetic, architectural and engineering point of view. They demonstrate the power of public coffers.

Its airport is also demonstrative of the country’s muscle: Doha-Hamad, a giant hub designed by the American firm Hok.

Doha Airport

This is the main entry, exit or transit gate for Qatar. The terminal is a building that will impress everybody for sure. It is a tribute to this always developing country. It is a modern facility very convenient for its large lobbies and corridors and the great showcase of a small country with a powerful financial system. Qatar Airways is a country’s pride and a clue asset for the organization of large-scale events.

Khor Al Adaid Inland Sea

Khor Al Adaid Inland Sea is about 60 kilometers from the capital. It is a high-value nature reserve. 

Al Zubarah

The walled coastal city of Al Zubarah is one of the centers of trade and sale of pearls at the end of the 18th century and even the early nineteenth. The area has been rediscovered with excavation work and the uniqueness of the complex has been considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The best things to do when you visit Qatar

The most interesting activities in the country include visits to the desert, rallies on the sand, sandboarding, cultural activities like falconry or camel tours.

How to get to Qatar

Plane

You will get to Qatar flying via the Hamad International Airport in Doha.

Bus

You can get to Qatar by bus through Saudi Arabia. This is a slow way to arrive since customs can take up to 4 hours especially during off-hours.

Car

The only land route to Qatar is through Saudi Arabia. Make sure your rental car has the insurance to cross the border and be patient at the customs. 

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