For quite a number of people, plans for a vacation in the Middle East automatically lead to a search for what to do and where to stay in Dubai. This comes as no surprise: the Emirates is constantly filling the city with contemporary attractions while strategically marketing it as a tourist haven. But, as some seasoned travellers have come to discover, there are other Middle Eastern countries with the same – if not more – appeal, and with the World Cup taking place there this year, we are once again reminded that Qatar is a fine example in this category.
Qatar away from the World Cup 2022
The truth is that Qatar has always been a prime luxury destination even though it hardly ever tops the list. The World Cup may change this, but even if the games do not take you there this year, the Middle Eastern country should be on your list when you’re considering a trip to that region.
What to do in Qatar
Of course, because it is a desert country, the first activity that comes to mind is a desert safari. This is great – if you’ve never taken one before or you absolutely love it and want the experience in a new country. So yes, a desert safari is definitely something to do in Qatar, but it is not the only activity you can indulge in on your trip.
There is the option of visiting the National Museum of Qatar, an attraction that is not only interesting for the cultural story it tells but for its architecture which was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel to mimic the naturally occurring crystal formations known as the desert rose.
For an even deeper cultural experience, visit Katara Cultural Village, home to the Katara Mosque designed by (arguably) the first female architect to specialise in mosques; a Greek-styled amphitheatre and the Qatar Museums Gallery. Here, you can also shop at the Galeries Lafayette – the iconic French department store – spend a day at the beach or have a taste of Qatari food via the many eateries and ‘cabins’ on Tasty street.
Other activities to partake in include kayaking in the Mangroves of Al Thakira; playing a range of sports via high-tech installations at the newly-opened 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum and visiting the Souq Waqif, the ‘Standing Market’ that gives you a feel of ancient Qatar.
Where to stay in Qatar
Qatar, like Dubai, has more than enough luxury accommodations to ensure that your stay is as comfortable as you would like.
From the Mandarin Oriental Doha with its two rooftop pools and nine restaurants and bars to the Ritz-Carlton Sharq Village whose proximity to the sheikh’s palace confers upon it an additional luxe appeal; the Mondrian Doha famous for its top-notch service and opulent offerings, and, the Zulal Wellness Retreat perfect for unwinding and detoxing either alone or with a group, there is no end to the comfortable and lavish lodgings you can retire to after a busy day exploring Qatar’s top attractions.