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The Pearl of Arabia

A trainer with a racing camel Photo: Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com

Visit Qatar and experience the latest in architectural brilliance set against an ancient desert landscape

A trainer with a racing camel Photo: Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com
A trainer with a racing camel
Photo: Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com

Qatar is one of the smallest countries in the Middle East. That’s why, when it was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup, many people around the world had not heard of it before.

Nonetheless, Qatar, or its capital of Doha, is sometimes compared to an oasis in the desert, or a pearl in the ocean. Here’s why.

Throughout Qatar’s history, this land, with a tranquil coast facing the Indian Ocean, has been well-known for pearl diving. Qatar was under the rule of the mighty Ottoman Empire for most of its history, before falling under the British until its independence in 1971. Despite its colourful past, Qatar has remained a treasure till this day.

Today, Qatar is a centre for oil production and perhaps the richest country in the region. This prosperity and industrialization has led to modern wonders such as Doha, its striking capital city, accompanied by the equally-beautiful white beaches of Al-Khor.

Here are just some of the sights you have to see.

Qatar’s modern stadia helped it win the bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Qatar’s modern stadia helped it win the bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup

The Seaside Road of Al-Corniche

The seaside road on the harbour of Doha is a must-see before you leave. You have the pristine waterfront of the Indian Ocean, along with the innovative modern architecture in the background.

Make sure you catch the sight of the traditional “dhow” sailing vessels bobbing in the water.

Souq Waqif & Shopping Sprees

If you’ve got the itch for shopping, Souq Waqif is the area for you. It’s been the main market in Doha for centuries. The only difference is that the mud-rendered storefronts in the 19th Century style now have the Villagio Mall sitting next to them.

There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re looking for little trinkets to take home or some yummy Qatari cuisine. Look out for the Middle Eastern coffee pots.

A vintage canon and Zubarah fort
A vintage canon and Zubarah fort

Al-Khor & Bir Zekreet – The Twin Cities

While there’s much to see in and around Doha, there’s much more to Qatar. You have two amazing cities on opposite coasts to each other: Al-Khor and Bir Zekreet.

Al-Khor was one of the foremost pearl fishing villages. Today, it’s more of a fishing village.

Aside from the traditional fish market on the waterfront and the sun-kissed beaches, you have the variety of birds. Different kinds of tropical birds reside in the mangroves and in the gardens of the city, so you’re never far from the wildlife.

Fancy a bit of camping? Bir Zekreet is a popular place for camping. This small city is surrounded by sand dunes and desert landscape. During your stay, you can also visit the wild deer reserve and a deserted village once used as a set for films.

Khor al-Adaid – The Magical Inland Sea

Khor al-Adaid is called the Inland Sea. It’s easy to imagine crystal waters and remote beaches but this isn’t the case. It’s actually a dune sea where there’s nothing but soft sands for hundreds of miles around. Despite its sparsity, it’s a destination practically every foreigner visits.

The surroundings have been turned into a landscape filled with camps, spiritual retreats, camel riding and sand skiing. It’s the only place in Qatar where you can participate in many of the desert pursuits of old.

This Arabian treasure is a must-see. You’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have!

By Victoria