Qatar boasts of a little bit of everything: delicious food, cutting edge architecture and a dynamic capital city. This country, situated along the Arabian Sea, is tailor-made for travellers who love to indulge in local culture, tradition, shopping and adventures in the sprawling desert. Additionally, Qatar is the only visa-free country in the Gulf region for Indians, making it the perfect spot for quick getaways or even long vacations.
While in Qatar, especially in the winter months, the activities do not stop at sightseeing; there are a whole lot of things tourists can do to enjoy the country.
The winter months are a great time to visit the country. Besides the weather being ideal for travel, relaxation and sight-seeing, the country hosts a shopping extravaganza called ‘Shop Qatar’. The happening festival boast of beauty workshops, fashion shows, carnivals, concerts and, obviously, a shopping fiesta with cash prizes and latest cars worth millions to be won in raffle draws. The dates for this extravaganza are December 15, 2018 to January 20, 2019.
Shopping extravaganza in Qatar. Photo courtesy: Cox & Kings
With Qatar being visa-free for Indians, both first-timers and regular visitors can plan a quick visit to Qatar this season to enjoy the beautiful winter weather along with great shopping bargains and fabulous fashion and entertainment shows.
Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) is home to one of the world’s largest collection of Islamic art. Its outer structure, a white building with angular edges, built on an island, glistens in the sunlight and shines at night. The collection inside ranges across delicate textiles, ceramics, enamel work and glass. With a café, a restaurant and a gift shop, this museum is a favourite among locals and tourists.
Qatar is a combination of modern sites and traditional spots. One such location is Souq Waqif, the oldest traditional bazaar in Doha. Although it has been renovated, the Qatari architectural styles remain in the traditional open-air space. The bustling intricate lanes are filled with stores selling authentic souvenirs, clothing, perfume, spices and even animals. With its outdoor cafes, colourful goods and friendly locals, this age-old market is worth a visit.
For those who prefer beautiful vistas and the outdoors, the 7km-long Doha Corniche, makes for a great spot. With gorgeous views of the famed Doha skyline, the promenade is lined with traditional wooden dhows, quick eateries, outdoor exercise facilities and a running track.
Kayaking is enjoyed in the country. Photo courtesy: Cox & Kings
For those who love the waters, the peninsular country, with water on three sides, presents an opportunity to try a number of water sports including sailing, water skiing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, jet skiing and windsurfing. Divers can to enjoy marine life in surrounding pristine waters that includes groupers, batfish, barracudas and sea breams along with some reefs and wrecks.
The surrounding desert area is great for dune bashing and camping. Driving along the rolling dunes on a 4X4 right up to the beautiful Khor Al Adaid and enjoying a night under the stars at a luxury camp are some of the things one can do in the desert. Camel rides, sand-boarding, or a quick dip in the Inland Sea, all make for a majestic quest.
The Northeast corner of the country is home to a blooming mangrove colony, close to the coast of Al Thakhira. For eco-tourism lovers, kayaking tours that last for about 3 hours, take visitors to the heart of the colony that is also home to birds like reef egrets, terns and herons.
Qatar’s food scene is a melting pot of cultures. Photo courtesy: Cox & Kings
With tastes and spices from around the world, traditional Qatari food is a flavourful combination of Indian, Irani, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Everybody loves a good lunch, which usually is a mix of local favourites. A popular Qatari dish, machboos is a rice dish cooked with aromatic spices and meat. Another must-have is the ghuzi, a whole roasted lamb served on a bed of rice, vegetables and flavourful fried nuts. Katara Cultural Village and Souq Waqif have many eateries that serve local flavours. Global cuisine lovers can head over to the Japanese favourite Nobu or Alain Ducasse’s IDAM that offers, not only a breath-taking view of the Doha Bay, but also Asian delicacies and French Mediterranean cuisine with an Arabic twist.
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