Get Lost in: Qatar

Nestled between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, it was only recently that this little country had limelight thrust upon it, albeit due to the ignominy garnered by the nation’s various human rights violations. Qatar is not a destination I would recommend a trip to be planned around, but I would definitely recommend extending your stay here if you have a layover and take the opportunity to visit this paradoxical little country. The entire country is a mere 11.5 thousand square kilometres, but what it lacks in size, it makes up in oil. Qatar boasts of the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and the highest per capita income in the world. Driving through the streets of Doha, the nation’s capital, it’s not unusual to share the roads with Ferraris,  Lamborghinis and the odd Rolls Royce.

 

970763_485580661523491_1647068561_n.jpgPrior to the discovery of oil, Qatar was a simple pearl fishing economy. Now, the country is almost unrecognisable. This not to say that the country has lost all of it’s roots, in fact, Qatar has a booming art and culture revivalist movement. The result is a country that is in a struggle with reconciling it’s ancient traditions with the modernising forces that envelope it.

Surrounded on three sides by beautiful beaches, this peninsular nation provides excellent opportunities for beach side camping, parasailing, kayaking and a whole host of other water sports. So it is with great pleasure, that I present Qatar, host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and the country I currently call home.

In this Post

  • Qatar 101
  • How to Get To Qatar
  • Accommodation
  • Getting Around
  • Must-Sees
  • Food
  • Shopping
  • Safety

Qatar 101

Language
Although the local language is Arabic, almost anyone you meet will speak at the very least, reasonably fluent English.

Currency
Qatari Riyal (QR)
1 USD = 3.65 QR              1 Euro = 4.09 QR

Good for:
For short trips, layovers, water sports, history, culture and art enthusiasts.

How to Get There: 

Arrival in Doha is through Hamad International Airport. Qatar Airways would be the easiest and likely quickest way to get to get a direct flight to Qatar.

Check if you need a visa here.

Recommended Accommodation

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Al Sharq Hotel & Spa

AirBnb and other couch surfing options are not recommended simply because they’re not popular enough to be considered safe. There are a plethora of hotels for all different price ranges that you can easily find on Booking.com.

Getting Around

Getting around on foot is simply not an option in 50°C/112°F weather. Even when the weather is better in winter, things are just too far off from one and other to walk anywhere. As a result, Doha has an excellent cab system. The most popular cab network is known as Mowasalat or more commonly as Karwa. They are the cheapest, but not the most reliable. The other option is to use Careem, which is sort of like the local Uber. (If you’re signing up for Careem, use this link to get free credit.) Like Uber Careem works in a number of cities, mainly in the Middle East and parts of Pakistan.

Absolute Must-Sees

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The Corniche is perfect for a stroll during pleasant weather, both during the day and night. At night, you’ll see the buildings lit up in a twinkling tribute to the nation’s modernity, and if you’re lucky, you may even catch fireworks.

 

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The Museum of Islamic Arts boasts of one of the extensive collections in the world. A must-see for history buffs.

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The MIA parks hosts a bazaar every Saturday with food, clothes and jewellery from around the world.

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No trip to Qatar is complete without paying a visit to Katara, and no trip to Katara is complete without sitting in ‘Karak and Chapatti’ and drinking the nation’s favourite drink, Karak and soaking in the traditional architecture. If you’re looking for something a little more filling, Katara has a number of restaurants for you to choose from. My pick? The lamb chops from Khan Farouk. Hands down the best I’ve ever eaten.

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Like Katara, Souq Waqif too is built in the traditional Qatari aesthetic. The soul is a great place to get affordable yet delicious food, pick up souvenirs and of course, smoke some sheesha.

 

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A trip to Sealine will get you camel rides, a gorgeous beach, and the chance to try some dune bashing!

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Zekreet is perfect if you’d like to go camping.

Food

Ah, the food in Doha. There’s so much good food to be had. There’s a massive array of fine dining options and an even bigger assortment of mid-range restaurants. Here are some of the finest samplings of local cuisine that you absolutely must not miss:

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  • You must try Karak, the local version of a spiced tea, served everywhere with warm bread.
  • There’s a tiny kebab place, called Shujaa in Souq Waif near the Animal Section where you’ll be served skewer upon skewer of kebabs for less than a dollar per skewer.
  • The Lamb Chops from Khan Farouk in Katara
  • And of course, Shawarma. The best shawarma in Doha can be had at Al Sultan on Al Nasr Street (4441 4067).
  • Cheese Fatayer from Huda Bakery on Salwa Road. (4469 3214)

If you’re looking for alcohol, the only licensed places are the 5-star hotels.

Halal Food

Everything in Doha is Halal.

Shopping

There’s a mall practically on every street corner in Doha, but you’ll find that prices despite the absence of taxes, are unreasonably high compared to other places. If you’re looking for traditional souvenirs, scarves and other trinkets, make a beeline to Souq Waqif, and make sure you haggle!

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Safety
Qatar is quite safe, with very low rates of theft and violent crime. Road safety tends to be the biggest issue here so feel free to ask your driver to slow down if need be.

 

Have you been to Qatar? How did you like it? Do you have any tips to share?

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Get Lost's Guide to Qatar

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