I’m a 12 months into my second stretch of calling Doha house. So I’ve realized a factor or two about residing within the desert state of Qatar.
Once I first lived right here 20 years in the past, no person had even heard of this exceptional little nation. Immediately, cruise ships hug the shoreline, and guests flock right here from across the globe. But some vacationers arrive unprepared.
Realizing some background info earlier than your go to will make it easier to profit from your journey to this nation on the Arabian Peninsula. From dealing with the warmth and taking the super-modern metro to seeing wonderful artwork and attending to know the Qataris, listed below are my high suggestions that can make it easier to get essentially the most out of your go to to Qatar.
Timing your go to to Qatar is essential
Qatar’s “season” runs from October to Might. These months are the most effective time to go to, when most occasions and exhibitions happen and when the temperatures are nice sufficient to stroll round outdoors.
Qatar is a desert nation, and it will get scorching. Like, actually scorching. Summer season temperatures simply attain 50ºC (122ºF) – within the shade. Whilst you can anticipate all the things out of your rental automotive to the department stores and even some bus stops to be air conditioned, you may nonetheless get uncomfortable bouncing between them.
Resolve to journey – or not – throughout Ramadan
The ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, the holy month of Ramadan is when Muslims quick between dawn and sundown. Throughout Ramadan, it’s frowned upon to eat, drink, smoke and even chew gum in public throughout daylight. Whereas Qataris are tolerant of non-Muslim guests, virtually all eating places are closed in the course of the day (inns supply the few exceptions). Visiting Qatar throughout Ramadan means your journey plans should be extra versatile, however you’ll get the prospect to expertise festivities such because the each day sundown cannon being set off, the beautiful lantern decorations round city and the nightly iftar, the breaking of the quick after sundown that’s a joyous occasion in non-public houses and eating places.
Take care to decorate appropriately
Qatar is a Muslim nation, and whereas Qataris are tolerant – particularly of tourists – it’s an indication of respect to decorate modestly. It’s not an issue to put on a bikini at resort seashores and swimming pools, however it’s respectful for women and men to cowl their shoulders and put on garments that attain to the knee when strolling round elsewhere, particularly in areas the place you’ll encounter many locals, comparable to in Souq Waqif.
Hop on the Doha Metro
Whereas a lot of Doha’s focus on Souq Waqif and Msheireb is walkable within the cooler months, the simplest and most comfy method to get round is on the Doha Metro. This contemporary, clear and expansive system takes you to all of the busy hubs inside Doha and its environment, together with the airport and the cities of Al Wakrah and Lusail.
Perceive the native etiquette
From avoiding consuming together with your left hand to espresso taken with cardamom and the varied types of conventional costume, Arab tradition generally is a new expertise for these from outdoors the Muslim world. To study etiquette and practices instantly from Qataris, go to Embrace Doha for experiences that can train you in regards to the cultural ins and outs right here.
Don’t let preconceptions scare you away
Even earlier than they go to, many vacationers have an opinion about Qatar – however it’s important to reach with an open thoughts and expertise it for your self. Whereas guidelines, customs and legal guidelines may differ from the place you reside, Qatar has been altering loads lately. Once I returned to dwell in Qatar once more after a 15-year absence, I barely acknowledged the place. An increase in worldwide guests has spurred the nation to proceed to work towards extra adjustments.
Solo feminine traveler visiting Qatar? No worries
Many take into account Qatar the most secure nation on this planet – and as a girl residing right here, I’ve by no means felt threatened. (After all, it takes just one dangerous expertise to alter your view on that, however the identical holds for each nation on this planet.) In Qatar, I often neglect to lock my entrance door and my automotive, and even depart my purse in my procuring cart. It is best to use frequent sense as you’d wherever – and anticipate to really feel secure and welcome.
Attempt the favourite native breakfast
Since Qatar is without doubt one of the world’s richest international locations, celebrity-chef eating places abound all through the capital. But vacationers visiting Qatar on a finances can nonetheless discover scrumptious low-cost meals, such because the native favourite breakfast of karak and chapati. A tea made with condensed milk, cardamon, ginger, saffron and sugar, karak is spicy in addition to candy, whereas chapati is a flatbread served often with honey or cheese (or each!). You possibly can attempt these two staples in most simple-looking cafeterias, at meals stalls in parks or in Katara village. You’ll know the place to search out them by the hungry locals queuing as much as order.
Be taught extra in regards to the significance of the beloved nationwide chook
The falcon is Qatar’s nationwide chook, and they’re so revered that they’re allowed on flights and even get their very own seat. Doha has a falcon hospital in addition to a falcon market; in your go to, cease at Souq Waqif to have a more in-depth take a look at these attractive birds. Whilst you’re there, don’t miss the camels and thoroughbred Arabian horses which can be stabled proper within the metropolis middle.
Qatar is an artwork hub of the Center East
Qatar is greater than luxurious procuring and such prestigious sports activities occasions because the 2022 FIFA World Cup: it’s shortly changing into a heavyweight on the Center Jap artwork scene, too. In Hamad Worldwide Airport alone, you’ll be able to see greater than a dozen installations by such internationally well-known artists as KAWS, Urs Fischer and Jean-Michel Othoneil. Head into the desert at Zekreet to see the gorgeous East–West / West–East by Richard Serra, or go to the large Miraculous Journey by Damien Hirst. Doha’s Museum of Islamic Artwork is world-class, whereas pockets of avenue artwork complement the capital’s high-culture choices.
Loosen up in a park
Most of Qatar’s landscapes are beige and sandy – so take a break from the desert hues at a inexperienced park in Doha. My favourite is MIA Park behind the Museum of Islamic Artwork, which bends round a bay and is filled with small meals vans that promote karak, chapati and different goodies. MIA Park not solely has fabulous mature bushes and grass excellent for picnicking, but additionally provides very good views throughout the skyline, with picturesque picket dhows (conventional boats) moored close by.
Don’t miss out on the desert
It’s straightforward to maintain busy in Doha, but you’ll be able to’t depart Qatar with out experiencing the desert. As you off-road over sand dunes in a 4WD car to, watch flamingos, camp underneath the clear skies of the “inland sea” of Khor Al Adaid and slide down the horseshoe-shaped Singing Dunes, you’ll uncover how the desert lies on the literal coronary heart of Qatar – and the figurative certainly one of its folks.
Get hold of Qatar’s historical past
Bedouin have lengthy lived across the Arabian deserts, however the tradition’s nomadic way of life implies that most locations on this area don’t have any historical buildings. But Qatar has few historic surprises, such because the petroglyphs at Al Jassasiya and the Unesco-listed Al Zubarah Fort, each properly price a go to.
Plan the place to have a drink
It’s doable to stave off the warmth with a cool beer in Qatar – however you’ll must plan forward. You can not import alcohol into Qatar from duty-free outlets or purchase something however non-alcoholic beer from the grocery retailer, nor are you allowed to drink alcohol in public locations. Alcohol is offered in Qatar solely on licensed premises, comparable to bigger inns and resort eating places. Most inns have very good bars, comfy beer gardens or out of doors eating places the place you’ll be able to sit again with a glass or two.