Formerly a British protectorate that relied heavily on the pearling industry, Qatar has transformed itself since mid-way through the 20th century. The discovery of oil and natural gas reserves and subsequent exploitation of these natural resources following WWII led to an explosion of wealth for this Persian Gulf nation. Today, Qatar boasts one of the fastest-growing economies, expanding into the technology and investment industries in recent years. As a result, modern Qatar is opening its doors to the world, showing off its true colors. In 2022, the Football World Cup will be the highlight of the country’s amazing rise to the world stage.
Doha is certainly the heart and soul of Qatar. No other city in the country comes close to its gleaming splendor. The Corniche in Doha is the center of Doha’s entertainment district. The Doha Zoo, Cultural Village, shopping malls, and its amazing museums (like the National Museum and Museum of Islamic Arts) make up most of the attractions in the city. Outside of Doha, the desert area provides a spectacular landscape for safaris, which have become an important part of the country’s tourism industry. Of course, no trip to Qatar is complete without experience a local souq. Souq Waqif is a magnificent destination, where tourists can try their hand at bargaining.
Accommodation is becoming more expensive every year throughout Qatar. With the increase in tourism, demand for rooms is placing more stress on the city of Doha and other areas like Al Khor. Tourists looking for a five-star or four-star experience can find some beautiful modern hotels in Doha. The night life mostly centers around the capital too. Due to strict drinking laws in Qatar, most of the restaurants and pubs that serve alcohol are found inside major hotels. The cuisine in Qatar is quite diverse. Tourists will be able to sample a range of international, regional, and traditional foods. Of course, homesick American travelers will be able to eat at many home-grown franchises, such as McDonalds, Burger King, Applebees, Hardees and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Doha International Airport is the primary airport in Qatar. The airport is home to one of the world’s fastest growing airlines – Qatar Airways. Tourists can reach anywhere on the peninsula from the airport in less than an hour or two. It is also possible to reach Qatar by road through Saudi Arabia. However, customs at the border tend to be slow, with reports of wait times exceeding four hours at night. The fixed bus routes between Qatar and Saudi are only slightly less expensive than air tickets from the surrounding region, therefore it is probably better if tourists fly into Qatar than travel by land.
Qatar remains relatively hot all year round. The tiny peninsular nation can reach very extreme temperatures - summers are the hottest time of the year, and quite long, lasting from the months of May through to September. Temperatures can hit as high as 122°F on a regular basis. The winter period (between November and May) in Qatar is still relatively warm, with temperatures hovering between 70°F and 80°F. Rainfall is scarce, which is similar to other Middle Eastern countries. Each year, the country receives less than an average of four inches of rain.
Qatar boasts some beautiful drives, whether tourists decide to take a car along the coastline, or through the central desert of the country. Hiring a car is possible, but taxis are far more convenient. Unfortunately, the high number of tourists and expats in Qatar means taxis are harder to find. However, a recent push to increase the supply of taxis has started to create more balance between taxi supply and demand.
- Stroll the Corniche of Doha’s esplanade
- Explore the beautiful desert region on a dune buggy or four-wheel drive
- Tour the coast of Doha in a traditional dhow boat
- Shop in the souqs of Qatar’s major city, Doha
- Spend a few hours in the fascinating Museum of Islamic Arts
- Take a trip back in time at the Doha Heritage Village