Prior to spending almost two weeks in India for work, I thought if it would be possible to squeeze in a quick trip somewhere in Asia that I haven’t been before. I didn’t want to spend a week away and only wanted a short getaway. Then I thought about visiting Qatar and checking out what Doha is like prior to the FIFA World Cup 2022 preparations taking full effect in the country.
Luckily, since I booked my India flight with Qatar Airways, I was able to factor in a multi-city booking so when I was done with my work assignment in Chennai, I would visit Doha for a few days.
So I decided to spend two days in Doha as a weekend trip and see what the capital city had to offer. Work assignment in Chennai was over and I happily prepared myself for a very warm Qatari city break.
After passing through swanky Doha International Airport with the appreciated business class privileges, I was greeted with dry heat and overcast skies. I opted on staying at the Doubletree by Hilton which was close by some of the Doha attractions so it would be easy for be to commute to, either by foot or taxi.
On the first day, I visited the beautifully architectural Museum of Islamic Art, walked along the Corniche at sunset and ventured around the buzzing Souq Waqif. Alongside my amazement of the Museum of Islamic Art’s internal and external structure and surroundings, I adored and admired the masses of artefacts and ancient pieces on display. The Corniche with the dhow-like boats gave a perfect backdrop to the distant skyscrapers. Wandering around Souq Waqif allowed me to see the locals and tourists to enjoy the sunset entertainment and extreme haggling with market sellers.
Day two consisted of visiting the Pearl, Katara Cultural Village and the popular Villaggio Mall. The Pearl was pretty distant but is a prime location for high-rise apartments and docking for sizeable yachts and boats around the lovely marina. With temperatures around 35 degrees at the time, it was a sweltering and quiet area to hang around. Katara Cultural Village along with Katara Beach was still under some construction however it provided some activities for families and visitors to indulge in. Villaggio Mall is nothing like what I’ve seen before in a shopping centre. Gondola rides can be taken through the beautiful mini canal and amongst the shops and restaurants within the building, the interior design resembled a mini Venice in the heart of Doha. It was pretty cool to see the World Cup stadium nearby the mall also.
Prior to leaving Doha on my last day, I quickly visited the Imam Abdul Wahab Mosque. In all its grandeur, this solid structure really stands out amongst its surroundings and has a great view of the Doha’s city skyline. Although I wasn’t able to go into the interior praying areas, the articulate detailing of the mosque made me appreciate the Islamic design. Before I had to head off to the airport, I dabbled with some haggling at Souq Waqif and got myself some nice items to take home.
Although it’s very obvious that Doha is undergoing vast infrastructure all around the city, this Middle Eastern capital is not to be ignored. Doha has far to go to match up with its Arabian rival Dubai, but the future prospects of the city is high especially with the FIFA World Cup event which will put Qatar on a pedestal in 2022.
I saw a lot of European tourists and expats exploring the areas and indulge in Arabian culture. I really liked the atmosphere in Souq Waqif, the quietness of the Pearl and the serene location of Museum of Islamic Art. I found going around the city on my own very safe and the locals were accommodating. And to dispel concerns, I found Doha not to be strict when it came to wearing appropriate attire as long as clothing is not too revealing.
If my stay was longer, there are some activities that I could have done such as visiting the falcon souq, desert activities and some watersports. But I chose to indulge in a few things as my introduction to Qatar.
I would like to revisit Doha in a couple of years time, probably after the FIFA World Cup has taken place. To see whether the newly constructed areas along with the Arabian charm and inviting nature will propel Qatar’s capital to new heights.