Things to know before traveling to Qatar

Things to know before traveling to Qatar

I’m a 12 months into my second stretch of calling Doha house. So I’ve realized a factor or two about dwelling within the desert state of Qatar.

When I first lived right here 20 years in the past, no one had even heard of this outstanding little nation. Today, cruise ships hug the shoreline, and guests flock right here from across the globe. Yet some vacationers arrive unprepared.

Knowing some background info before your go to will aid you take advantage of 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 getting to know the Qataris, listed below are my high ideas that may aid you get probably the most out of your go to to Qatar.

Timing your go to to Qatar is essential

Qatar’s “season” runs from October to May. These months are the very best 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 temperatures simply attain 50ºC (122ºF) – within the shade. While you may anticipate all the pieces out of your rental automotive to the department stores and even some bus stops to be air conditioned, you would possibly nonetheless get uncomfortable bouncing between them.

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Decide 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. During Ramadan, it’s frowned upon to eat, drink, smoke and even chew gum in public throughout daylight. While Qataris are tolerant of non-Muslim guests, virtually all eating places are closed throughout the day (lodges provide the few exceptions). Visiting Qatar throughout Ramadan means your journey plans have to be extra versatile, however you will get the possibility 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 is a joyous occasion in personal properties and eating places.

Tourists tour the old market of Souk Waqif, Doha, Qatar, Middle East
It’s respectful to gown modestly when touring Qatar © 3yephotography / Getty Images

Take care to gown appropriately

Qatar is a Muslim nation, and whereas Qataris are tolerant – particularly of holiday makers – it is a signal of respect to gown modestly. It’s not an issue to put on a bikini at resort seashores and swimming pools, nevertheless it’s respectful for women and men to cowl their shoulders and put on garments that attain the knee when strolling round others, particularly in areas the place you’ll encounter many locals, akin to in Souq Waqif.

Hop on the Doha Metro

While a lot of Doha’s focus on Souq Waqif and Msheireb is walkable within the cooler months, the simplest and most snug method to get round is on the Doha Metro. This fashionable, 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.

A man prepares Turkish coffee in burning sand at Souq Waqif, Doha, Qatar, Middle East
Learning about Arab etiquette – together with the numerous traditions related to espresso – will add to the enjoyment of your Qatar journey © Juan Alberto Casado / Getty Images

Understand the native etiquette

From avoiding consuming along with your left hand to espresso taken with cardamom and the varied types of conventional gown, Arab tradition could be 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 may train you in regards to the cultural ins and outs right here.

Don’t let preconceptions scare you away

Even before they go to, many vacationers have an opinion about Qatar – nevertheless it’s important to arrive with an open thoughts and expertise it for your self. While guidelines, customs and legal guidelines would possibly differ from the place you reside, Qatar has been altering lots lately. When I returned to stay 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.

A woman shopping at night at the Souq Waqif street market in Doha, Qatar, Middle East
One of the most secure international locations on this planet, Qatar supplies an amazing expertise for solo ladies vacationers © urbazon / Getty Images

Solo feminine traveler visiting Qatar? No worries

Many Qatar contemplate the most secure nation on this planet – and as a girl dwelling right here, I’ve by no means felt threatened. (Of course, it takes just one dangerous expertise to change 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 go away my purse in my buying cart. You ought to use frequent sense as you’ll wherever – and anticipate to really feel protected and welcome.

Try 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. Yet vacationers visiting Qatar on a funds 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 can strive these two staples in most simple-looking cafeterias, at meals stalls in parks or in Katara village. You’ll know the place to discover them by the hungry locals queuing up to order.

A falcon rests on a man's arm on a stone balcony, Qatar
Magnificent falcons are treasured in Qatar as a key a part of the nation’s tradition © Abdelrahman M Hassanein / Getty Images

Learn extra in regards to the significance of the beloved nationwide fowl

The falcon is Qatar’s nationwide fowl, 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 better have a look at these attractive birds. While you are there, do not miss the camels and thoroughbred Arabian horses which are stabled proper within the metropolis middle.

Qatar is an artwork hub of the Middle East

Qatar is greater than luxurious buying and such prestigious sports activities occasions because the 2022 FIFA World Cup: it is shortly turning into a heavyweight on the Middle Eastern artwork scene, too. In Hamad International Airport alone, you may 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 beautiful East–West / West–East by Richard Serra, or go to the big Miraculous Journey by Damien Hirst. Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art is world-class, whereas pockets of avenue artwork complement the capital’s high-culture choices.

Relax 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 Art, 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 good for picnicking, but in addition affords excellent views throughout the skyline, with picturesque picket dhows (conventional boats) moored close by.

Two children in sunglasses pet three sitting camels in the desert, Qatar, Middle East
Desert excursions present the final word method to encounter Qatari landscapes and tradition © BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock

Don’t miss out on the desert

It is simple to hold busy in Doha, but you may’t go away Qatar with out experiencing the desert. As you off-road over sand dunes in a 4WD automobile 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 will uncover how the desert lies on the literal coronary heart of Qatar – and the figurative one in all its individuals.

Search out Qatar’s historical past

Bedouin have lengthy lived across the Arabian deserts, however the tradition’s nomadic life-style implies that most locations on this area haven’t any historical constructions. Yet Qatar has a couple of 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 will want to plan forward. You can not import alcohol into Qatar from duty-free retailers or purchase something however non-alcoholic beer from the grocery retailer, nor are you allowed to drink alcohol in public locations. Alcohol is on the market in Qatar solely on licensed premises, akin to bigger lodges and resort eating places. Most lodges have excellent bars, snug beer gardens or out of doors eating places the place you may sit again with a glass or two.

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