10 years ago, few people knew much about this small Gulf nation that juts out like an island into the Persian Gulf. With the successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and its National Carrier Qatar Airlines growing to one of the most popular airlines in the world, this has rapidly changed. If you visit Qatar now you have world-standard hotels and attractions to savour.
Its small size makes it easy to visit as you can base yourself in the capital – Doha – and explore the country from there. You can explore Souq Waqif and experience the bustle and atmosphere of a traditional bazaar, visit the Falco Bazaar to learn about this popular local pastime and see horses and camels available for sale.
In contract the impressive Museum of Islamic Art houses the World’s largest collection of Islamic Art and the National Museum was reopened in 2019 in its new home, an amazing building designed to resemble a desert rose.
If you want adventure, why not 4×4 to the UNESCO World heritage site of Al Zubarak Fort or explore the mysterious Al Jassasiya Rock carvings thought to be over 2,000 years old. You can visit Purple Island, a small island busting with mangroves and other vibrant vegetation.
If you want to visit the ultimate remote beach then head (by 4×4) to Khor Al Adaid beach c. 80 km from Doha. Backed by the sand sea, the tides create an inland sea with a unique and desolate beauty, only to recede to reveal pristine desert once more. This is where you can see wildlife (it’s a UNESCO registered wildlife reserve), with oryx and gazelle grazing the sparse vegetation and turtles, flamingos, and ospreys all there to be seen. It is a unique place. To watch an unforgettable sunset and sunrise why not camp, experience a night in the desert under a billion stars is an experience you will remember all your life.
If your dates coincide with the schedule at the Al Shahaniya race track you must enjoy a day at the races – camel racing. (Oct – Feb when the temperatures are cooler). It is a unique spectacle with the camels being ridden by robot jockeys controlled by remote-control. (Traditionally child jockeys were used but were replaced because of safety concerns).
Qatar is a leading world-wide promoter of international cultural exchange, using its wonderful museums and resources to promote understanding between different countries. In 2023, the 11th year that the Years of Culture programme has been operating, the country of collaboration is Indonesia, situated in Southeast Asia and the most populous Islamic country in the world. Events are held throughout Indonesia as well, bringing the best of both countries together in a celebration of unity.You can get more info on this years events by visiting the Years of Culture website.
There are fashion shows, showing national dress and Food festivals to highlight the cuisine of both nations. In the cultural field, Searching for the Essence of Love is a specially commissioned musical work showcasing Indonesian folklore stories and featuring traditional musical instruments, costumes, masks and crafts. The work opened in the grand setting of the Katara Opera House in Doha.
Years of Culture is more than just one year of partnering with a country, it is about working to consolidate a legacy of friendship and trust between two people. Previous partners include Japan, Great Britain, France the USA, India and Germany.
You can find this spirit of celebration and friendship at the Flag Plaza in Doha. A forest of 119 flags represents all the countries where Qatar has overseas embassies and is a public space designed to be used for festivals and celebrations for its own population, reminding them of the world family of which they are a part.