Qatar was previously a poor country. But with the help of oil and gas fields, the country has made a rapid economic progress. Initially, Qatar did not issue visas for the tourists. From 1989 onwards, they have started issuing them. The land of sand dunes, brilliant architecture, wonderful hotels, and rock carvings is now open to outsiders. Qatar is divided into nine municipalities namely Ad Dawhah, Al Khawr, Al Ghuwayriyah, Jarayan al Batinah, Madinat ash Shamal, Al Jumayliyah, Al Wakrah, Umm Salal, and Ar Rayyan. The official language of Qatar is Arabic. English is also widely spoken in Qatar. The capital city of Qatar is Doha.
When you reach Qatar by plane, you are likely to land in Doha. The Qatar airways are the major airlines of Qatar. You can reach Qatar by car or bus from Saudi Arabia. Taxis, buses, and limousines will facilitate intra-country traveling. During the summer months the heat is unbearable. November and February offer pleasant weather for the tourists and are the months, when you should be looking to travel to Qatar.
Some of the major tourist attractions in Qatar are:
- Qatar National Museum and Aquarium, Doha
- The Corniche, Doha
- City Center Mall, Doha
- Doha Ethnographic Museum
- Doha Fort
- Al Shaqab Stud farm
- Zubara Fort
- Doha Golf Club
[stab name=’Getting In’]Qatar attracts travelers with its unique beauty and host of other attractions.
Reaching Qatar by air is quite a convenient option because of the presence of an international airport in Doha. Here, the Qatar Airways has established a worldwide network. A large number of flights arrive here from across the world and the airlines operating here are Aero Asia Internatioanl, Air Arabia, British Airways, Emirates, Egypt Air, Indian Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch airlines, Turkish Airlines, etc.. Most of the international airlines operate through the Doha Airport and have daily or weekly flights to Qatar. Qatar Airways connects Doha to 66 destinations worldwide. The other major airlines operating in Qatar is the Gulf Air. From the airport, you will get complimentary bus or limousine services or you can also hire a taxi.
You can arrive in Qatar by land from Saudi Arabia, though be careful night travel by car is not advisable at all. Even traveling during the day one has to watch out for speeding cars and trucks. Proper caution like wearing seat belts and not crossing the speed over 120 mph should be maintained. There is also a bus service from Saudi Arabia. But, these don’t have fixed routes and do not provide a comfortable journey.
Reaching Qatar by sea is also another option and sea travel is possible because of the presence of the Arabian Sea. There is a service of small commercial boats plying in and out of Qatar. These are not often used by general tourists as they don’t have specified routes. Doha Port also finds commercial freights coming from all over the world. The other ports are Umm Said, Musayid, Ad Dawah, and Jazirath Halul.
[stab name=’Transport’]traveling in Qatar was a problem earlier, but when this country tried to project its image in the world arena, then it was decided by the government to develop the transportation system in Qatar. The government here has started in 2002 the Taxi Company – Mowasalat, which is solely owned by the government to facilitate “Integrated Ground Transport Services” for the whole country. Earlier there were as many as 3,000 privately owned orange taxi’s, but the emergence of the services of Mowasalat has made a significant change in the way people get around Qatar.
These new taxis are safer and more comfortable. But, you have to keep in mind one point that some of the drivers may not be proficient in languages like English. Mowsalat is currently operating 1,800 taxi sedans and there are also the airport taxis. The Doha Limousine Service operates 100 standard limousines and 200 (Jaguar XJ) VIP units which offer transfers from the Doha International Airport as well as from the major hotels.It was recently, in October 2005, that the bus service began in Qatar. By bus you can travel as far as Al Shamal/Al Ruwais in the north, Dukhan in the west, and Mesaieed (Umm Said) in the south.
The private taxis are a convenient way to get around. Though more expensive choices are Limos – which you can hire with prices starting at 30 Riyals. But, if you are looking for comfort then this is the perfect choice for you. You may also hire a car. There are many agencies that offer this option, though the prices can be anything around 1500 Riyals per month. You can bargain for a competitive price.[/stab]
[stab name=’Leisure’]The vibrant nightlife, an array of outdoor activities, shopping options as well as events and exhibition are the key areas of entertainment in Qatar. The exhibitions are a depiction of the cultural heritage of the country, as well as they promote sports. Noteworthy among them are the Doha Cultural Festival and the Qatar Open Tennis competition.
The Doha Cultural Festival takes place every year. The exhibitions of artworks and handicrafts showcase the true essence of the vibrant city, Doha. Other events, which are very popular are the Qatar Masters golf tournament and Doha International Trade Fair, celebrated on an international level.
Chic shopping malls coupled with lower duties make this region an ideal destination for shopping. The old souks are ideal for good bargains. The shopping hours in Qatar are usually from Saturdays through Thursdays, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., while the malls remain open until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m.. Some of the shops remain closed on Friday.
The tourists may indulge in adventure sports like wind surfing, parasailing, desert safaris, ice skating, etc. There are cinema halls in Doha where you can watch an English movie and also there is a National Theatre where you can view some live performances. Doha also has a vibrant nightlife and there are a variety of hotel bars ranging from classy cocktail lounges to casual Western-style bars. Food is also served and there are live bands performing every night. Another interesting option for entertainment and leisure in Qatar is rocking the night at the discotheques where pulsating beats and the DJs create a mood. Stage plays from London are hosted here, as well as dance groups from Europe and Asia perform here.[/stab]