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Qatar: a cultural crossroads Firmly fixated on the future, and with centuries of fascinating culture to celebrate, Qatar is an exciting, must-see destination
Images, from left: Museum of Islamic Art; fun in the desert; the Doha skyline; fine dining in Qatar
Al Zubarah Fort
very warm welcome – not least because the sun shines bright in Qatar throughout the year – to this Selling Travel guide that tells you all you need to know to get a handle on one of the world’s most dynamic, fast-evolving destinations. Al Thakira Qatar is Mangroves rapidly becoming a firm Al Khor fixture on everyone’s bucket list. The glittering, worldclass capital, Doha, is
crammed with wonders that include its magnificent Museum of Islamic Art, a vibrant and traditional-style souq, and thriving sports, arts and culinary scenes – it is the perfect place for visitors of all ages and tastes. Getting here is a dream. Doha’s modern Hamad International Airport is located just 15 minutes from the centre of town. Even better, guests can forego the hassle of entry paperwork as a free, multi-entry visa waiver is available on arrival for visitors from 80 countries, including the UK. Qatar’s seamless merging of old and new is encapsulated in the beautiful sight of traditional dhows on the waters of Doha Bay against a stunning modern skyline. It’s no surprise that Doha was recognised in
Souq Waqif Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art Aqua Park Qatar
Hamad International Airport
Khor Al Adaid (The Inland Sea)
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you want an action-packed break, a relaxing sunshine escape, or a culture and cuisine holiday, this little peninsula in the Arabian Gulf is perfect for a single-centre stay or as a stopover destination for those Capital: Doha heading to the Indian Ocean, Language: Arabic; Asia or Australia. English is widely spoken Enjoy the country’s many attractions in 24 hours, 48 Currency: Qatari Riyal hours or 72 hours – or simply Time Zone: GMT +3 hours relax by the beach to break up Climate: warm all year round your onward journey. Getting there: Qatar is a The charming and intriguing 7-hour flight from the UK and country offers new experiences Ireland. Qatar Airways flies to at every turn, be it the ancient Doha from London Heathrow, pursuit of falconry or witnessing Birmingham, Cardiff, Dublin, camels ridden by remoteEdinburgh and Manchester. controlled robot jockeys race British Airways flies from across the desert. Heathrow to Doha daily. It’s an elegant destination where you can sample the Training programme: wares of a delicious portfolio of tawashqatar.com sophisticated Doha restaurants, follow the locals on a walk along For more information visit: visitqatar.qa the Corniche, and watch the sun set over seemingly sculptured sand dunes. 2014 as one of the Indeed, with its dizzying mix of ‘New7Wonders Cities’. ancient desert landscapes and rapidly Qatar boasts beautiful developing cityscapes, Qatar is a wonder beaches and jaw-dropping to behold – the perfect example of Arabia desert landscapes. Whether old and new.
Proudly published by BMI Publishing Ltd ©2017 Suffolk House, George St, Croydon, Surrey, UK, CR9 1SR T: 020 8649 7233 E: enquiries@ bmipublishing.co.uk W: bmipublishing.co.uk Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, BMI Publishing cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Writer Ben West Publishers Steven Thompson & Sally Parker Advertising Manager Lisa Merrigan Editorial Director Steve Hartridge Group Editor Andy Hoskins Creative Director Matt Bonner Lead Designer Monica Notarnicola Production Manager Clare Hunter Commercial Director David Clare Managing Director Martin Steady
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Top 10 things to do in Qatar Qatar packs in a wide variety of experiences, cultural activities and adventures
1. The Pearl-Qatar A chic man-made island that is home to villas, residential towers and Mediterranean-style yacht-lined marinas. Located just off the West Bay coast, it’s a popular visitor attraction with lots of fantastic cafes and restaurants, as well as the luxurious five-star Marsa Malaz Kempinski The Pearl hotel.
UNESCO-recognised natural reserve, features extensive inland waters, often referred to as ‘The Inland Sea’.
3. Doha Bus This double-decker bus provides a great introduction to Doha, visiting attractions including the Souq Waqif, the Corniche, Katara Cultural Village and The Pearl.
2. Dune Experiences
4. Dhow Boat Cruise
Qatar’s expanses of desert and high dunes are ideal for a jeep safari. Try an Arabian feast in a desert camp, enjoying the spectacular landscapes which change depending on the time of day and light conditions. The impressive Khor-Al-Udaid, a
Spend a delightful day, half-day or evening sightseeing aboard a traditional wooden Qatari dhow. Taking to the water is a great way to take in Qatar’s impressive, modern skyline and visitors can choose from a number of operators offering dinner cruises, snorkelling trips and night sailings.
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7 7. Souq Waqif Wander the bustling alleyways of the traditional-style souq for an authentic taste of Arab street life. Shops and stalls selling spices, antiques, perfumes, textiles and traditional crafts are great for trying out your haggling skills. For the ultimate experience, head to Souq Waqif after sunset, where there is great dining, people-watching and entertainment.
8. Camel Racing
6 5. Al Thakira Mangroves
In striking contrast to the surrounding desert, this large expanse of natural greenery lies north of the city of Al Khor and attracts a wide variety of birdlife including herons and flamingos. You can explore by kayak on a guided tour.
6. Museum of Islamic Art Open daily, this spectacular building houses priceless artworks from a host of countries around the Islamic world, from medieval Spain to Mughal India and Central Asia. Galleries display ivory, ceramics, manuscripts, jewellery, glass, and woodwork. Part of the top floor is given over to fine dining restaurant Idam by acclaimed chef Alain Ducasse.
Witness the thrilling and unusual spectacle of remote-controlled toddlersized robot jockeys in colourful racing silks speed their camels across the sands at the Al Shahaniya track. Domestic and international tournaments take place on Fridays from November to February.
9. Arab Museum of Modern Art Visit this unique world-class collection of modern and contemporary art from the Arab world. Qatar has some great public art too. Don’t miss Richard Serra’s EastWest/West-East sculpture in Brouq nature reserve, and his SERRA 7 sculpture in MIA Park.
10. Al Zubarah Located on Qatar’s north-west coast, this perfectly restored 18th century fort and archaeological ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site. The fort and museum of Al Zubarah offer an insight into how life once was in Qatar. Preserved palaces, mosques, streets and houses, are now being uncovered by experts.
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Shopping & wellness Enjoying shopping is easy in Qatar’s traditional souqs and malls – as is relaxing in its spas
I Images, clockwise from below: shopping in Souq Waqif; the Sharq Village hotel; visitors enjoy some retail therapy; The Pearl
f you love shopping, you’ll simply adore Qatar. With a history built on trade, you’d expect the nation to have retail at its heart. Shopping is best showcased in Doha’s rich selection of traditional markets and souqs – chiefly the acclaimed Souq Waqif. This traditional cultural bazaar not only houses a variety of shops and stalls but restaurants serving everything from Yemeni to Malaysian cuisine. The Village restaurant is a great place for modern, casual dining. For views of the city whilst
you dine, try the Al Matbakh Rooftop. The Souq Waqif really is a must-see, and visitors will find everything from highquality pashminas and linen to traditional handicrafts and souvenirs. You’ll want to take the heady smell of the souq home, and the best way to do so is by snapping up some of the colourful loose spices.
Retail experiences A number of other souqs make up the shopping district, with streets dedicated to tailoring (Souq Al Deira); electronics
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Did you know? A canal with gondolas runs through the Venicethemed Villaggio Mall, which has designer brands, an ice rink, theme park, cinema and a good selection of restaurants. villaggioqatar.com
The Lagoona Mall, meanwhile, features elegant beams of natural light through skylights, diffusing light across the artistic mosaic tiles. Wide corridors and soaring, ceilings create a relaxing shopping atmosphere.
Time to relax
(Souq Nasser Bin Saif); and fabrics, perfume and luggage (Souq Al Aisery). For an even more authentic Arabian flavour, the Falcon Souq is dedicated to falconry – some of the prized animals are worth more than sports cars. For a more modern retail experience, Festival City mall features more than 530 shops and 100 restaurants, while the Mall of Qatar, has more than 500 stores alongside dining and entertainment. The huge City Centre Mall, bedecked in waterfalls, fountains and glass-fronted lifts, houses 370 stores including familiar European chains, a bowling alley, multiplex cinema, climbing walls, ice rink, amusement arcade and restaurants.
Qatar is home to some of the world’s best spas, where visitors can relax and indulge in five-star treatments. These excellent facilities, along with impressive fitness centres and gyms, are mostly located in major hotels or clubs. Among the best spas are Six Senses Spa in The Sharq Village, which offers the latest in contemporary treatments. Hightech facials are available alongside relaxing rituals, holistic techniques and age-old therapies such as a traditional hammam. The acclaimed Banana Island Resort by Anantara is located on an island 25 minutes’ boat ride from Doha, with this luxurious retreat featuring a range of Thai and Arabic treatments. Other top spa offerings include Eforea Spa at The Hilton; Chi, The Spa at The Shangri-La Doha; and Bliss Spa at The W.
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Where to stay in Qatar Qatar possesses some of the most unmissable luxury hotels in the world
atar has a wealth of luxury hotels across urban and beachfront locations. Chic and lavish, many city hotels are located right in the heart of Doha and are perfectly suited for stopovers and ultimate relaxation. The Shangri-La Doha Hotel, for example, is located in the heart of the city and is the perfect blend of Qatari and Asian hospitality, offering sophisticated
cuisine in seven vibrant restaurants and bars, a spa, outdoor pool and gyms. The W Hotel Doha, meanwhile, is located in the heart of West Bay, has large, luxurious accommodation, awardwinning restaurants, an excellent spa and stunning views over the Arabian Gulf. Just 25 minutes from the airport and near all the attractions, The Westin Doha has 365 immaculate rooms and suites and features several pools and a spa.
Images, clockwise from above: St Regis Doha; Marsa Malaz Kempinski; Shangri-La Doha; Sheraton Grand Doha; Nobu Doha; The Westin Doha
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exquisite spa, Olympic pool and private beach. Located on the The Doha Marriott has an shores of West Bay, The Sheraton eye-watering 100-metreDoha has recently long buffet, while the been renovated massive 26,000ft2 Nobu and offers a Restaurant at the Four selection of Seasons Hotel is amongst restaurants, bars the world’s biggest. and lounges, a marriott.co.uk; fourseasons.com fitness centre, outdoor pool and beautiful grounds. Set on Doha’s longest private beach is the InterContinental Doha, with 375 On the water luxurious guest rooms and suites, eight Qatar’s best beachfront hotels offer award-winning restaurants, an exclusive spacious rooms and excellent facilities for spa, state-of-the-art gymnasium and families, children and luxury travellers. huge outdoor pool. Luxury waterfront resort Sharq Village, Another hotel with a private beach is built in the style of a traditional Arabic the centrally-located Hilton Doha. It also house, has smart interiors drawing on features a large outdoor pool, spa and colonial styles. With its large pool, spa rooms and suites with views of the gulf and 350 metres of private coastline, it’s or the city skyline. Complete your stay an eternally popular choice. watching the sunset at the popular Located in the heart of Doha’s Trader Vic’s Restaurant. Corniche, The Four Seasons Doha has The Marsa Malaz Kempinski, the only seven restaurants and lounges, two pools, hotel on The Pearl, combines European a spa, wellness centre and private beach. palatial elegance along with Arabian Or consider the elegant St Regis Doha grandeur. As well as eminent restaurants, which blends modern style with Arabian spa and pools, it is also home to an opulence, world-class restaurants, an impressive art collection.
Did you know?
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Festivals & events Discover the highlights of Qatar's cultural calendar of events
January The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters golf tournament is considered Qatar’s ‘must-attend’ sporting and social event. Images, clockwise from above; Camel racing; Katara Traditional Dhow Festival performance;
February The Souq Waqif Spring Festival, free and lasting around 16 days, features parades, performances and activities. Qatar National Sports Day, on the second Tuesday of February, features a host of sports around Qatar.
Did you know?
For a country the size of Yorkshire, Qatar certainly pulls its weight when it comes to events. And there’s great diversity – everything from Arabic script calligraphy lessons to falconry exhibitions
March The Qatar Motorcycle
Grand Prix is one of the most spectacular events in MotoGP and is held in the desert at night. The Qatar International Food Festival showcases the country’s diverse cuisine, with more than 60 food stalls and chefs showcasing the latest food trends.
May/June Ramadan is celebrated on the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar – the date varies. Eid al-Fitr Festival begins after Ramadan, a national celebration with numerous family events. Dates vary.
September The Eid Al Adha Festival, meaning ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’, is a time of gratitude in the Islamic calendar.
November The Katara Traditional Dhow Festival, inspired by Qatar's rich maritime heritage, features displays and folklore activities such as pearl diving, rowing boat launching and more.
December Qatar National Day, on December 18, marks Qatar's unification in 1878, with fireworks, events, a parade through the Doha Corniche and a classic car show.
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Explore Qatar with a free hotel stay Qatar Airways transit passengers can explore Qatar with a range of stopover options including a free luxury hotel stay and two-night stay offers. Discover Doha with a city tour, desert safari adventure, museum visit, or dinner aboard a traditional dhow and truly experience Arabian hospitality at its finest. Book by December 31 for a stay until 30 April 2018. qatarairways.com/tradepartners
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Souq Waqif, Doha
Alleys of traditions.
Where great minds meet, and strangers become friends. Same as it ever was, same as it always will be.
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