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Brian Candy

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Brilliant news, the Qatar Metro has launched and is running. But what does this mean for visitors? Well the first thing I must point out is that for the moment only the Red Line is operating, and it’s in ‘Summer Preview Mode’ with reduced days/hours and stations. The service is currently operating Sunday to Thursday, 6am until 11pm. And there are 5 stations that although not open yet, will be in the near future.

A Summer 2019 Metro Map with most of the Red Line Stations operating
Summer 2019 Metro Map with most of the Red Line Stations operating

How to Use the Metro Red Line for Visitors

You can buy a reusable or single use tickets at any of the stations. There are plenty of really helpful staff around to ensure you don’t have any problem doing this.

Metro Rail Pricing
Metro Rail Pricing

Please see the Metro website for more information: https://www.qr.com.qa/static-content?code=AboutTravelCards

Southern stations are not so interesting for visitors

You can split the Red Line into North and South with Msheireb Station in the middle. Msheireb is the central and main station servicing all lines (when they open). To the south of Msheireb are: Doha Jadeda, Umm Ghuwailina, Matar Qadeem, Oqba Ibn Naif, Free Zone and Ras Bu Fontas. Terminating at Al Wakra. All of these stations seem to be orientated towards commuters as their locations and shuttle bus services focus on residential and work locations rather than places of interest.

However I do recommend riding between Oqba Ibn Naif and Wakrah because you switch from underground to over ground rail, and it’s well worth the views. Watch the video below:-

Msheireb and to the North

It’s the stations to the North of Msheireb that really have interest value for visitors to Qatar. And I must also stress that Msheireb station itself should be on your list of places to visit. So, I’m going to start here.

Msheireb Station

Within easy walking distance of Msheireb Station are Msheireb Downtown Doha and the Msheireb Museums . And as long as you don’t get lost, you may also like to walk around the old Doha areas adjacent before they get redeveloped as well. This will give you a feel for Doha in later decades.

Msheireb Station with Msheireb Development in background

And if you use the free shuttle bus (which runs every 12 minutes), you can take a short ride to the MUST SEE ‘Souq Waqif

Al Bidda Station

Al Bidda Park is really quiet something. It’s a large expanse of green grass, trees and leisure facilities overlooking Doha bay (Corniche). It’s free to enter and is just a beautiful place to chill, relax, BBQ (there are free BBQ stations), walk, run exercise…. Whatever you like to do in a park. And Al Bidda station has an entrance\exit that brings you up directly into it. You may consider visiting in the evening when it’s cooler especially during the summer.

Al Bidda Metro Station has three points of entry/exit. One on either side of Al Rayan Road, and one in Al Bidda Park. This is the Entrance within Al Bidda Park, which brings you right up into the park itself.

Al Corniche

The two main things accessible from Al Corniche Station are the General Post Office, and The Corniche. As a visitor I think you are most likely only going to visit the Corniche, but if you are into architecture or need to post a letter, then the GPO (General Post Office) is worthy of a quick walk.

Very close, and an easy walk to the GPO (General Post Office)

The Corniche is quite simply stunning. And is most definitely a Qatar MUST SEE. When you emerge from the station you will see two decorative above land tunnels. Take the one to the left and you will arrive at the GPO. Take the one directly in front of you and you will arrive on The Corniche.

When you exit Al Corniche Metro Station you will see two above land tunels. One takes you to the GPO, the other to the Corniche

When you cross the road (please be very careful doing this) on the Corniche you will find my favourite restaurant ‘The Al Morjan’. I strongly recommend sitting on the Al Morjan terrace and enjoying a delicious meal while taking in the breath-taking views of West Bay and the tranquillity of the sea.

Emerging from the Corniche Metro Station tunel onto the Corniche

West Bay Station

Located within West Bay, this station is very useful for getting to Ezdan Hotel. And could be used for for visiting Qatar Sports Club which is within walking distance (about 10 mins walk). Other than that it’s commuters who would get most use out of this station. As it’s perfect for several large office towers and complexes. But not much to see as a visitor unless you like walking a lot.

West Bay Metro Station. Good for Ezdan Hotel and offices.

DECC

DECC stands for Doha Exhibition and Conference Centre. And the station is right outside the entrance to the DECC. The station is in very easy walking distance to one of Qatar’s major malls ‘City Centre Mall’ as well the Gate Mall and numerous hotels and office buildings (for which there is a free shuttle bus). If you are not visiting an exhibition or conference, then a visit to ‘City Centre Mall’ is well worth stopping at this station for some retail therapy anyway. The mall also has a very large supermarket if you are in need of supplies.

Doha Exhibition and Conference Centre. Also good for City Centre Mall

Al Qassar Station

Al Qassar station is within walking distance (hot walking distance) of the InterContinental and St. Regis hotels. It’s also right next to the Qatar International Exhibition Centre.

But for the moment its greatest value to visitors is for accessing Katara Cultural Village. Which is another one of Qatar’s MUST SEE locations. https://www.visitqatar.qa/discover/tourist-hotspots/katara-cultural-village.html

Sometime soon the Katara Metro Station will be open. But until it does Al Qassar serves the purpose very well. But be sure to use the underpass that will deliver you safely from Al Qassar station directly into Katara without having to cross a major road.

The two types of Standard Class disposable tickets are; ‘Single Use’ which costs QR 2 (GBP 43p, USD 54 cents) and will take you from any station to any station (but not back again). And ‘Day Pass’ that will allow you to ride all day long (within a calendar day) getting on and off wherever you like as many times as you like for QR 6 (GBP £1.29, USD $1.64). Both can be bought from machines located within the stations using cash (QAR only I’m afraid) or card. Help is available, you will not have a problem.

A Rechargeable Standard Class Travel Card costs QR 10 and you can add as much credit to that as you like. It will then deduct QR 2 for each journey you make. However, the maximum it will debit per day is QR 6. After QR 6 you ride for free within the same day.

Travelling in style with ‘goldclub’

If you want to ride in the Gold Class carriage, your going to need a ‘goldclub’ card. And that will cost you QR 10 (GBP £2.15, USD $2.74) per journey. However if you are using a rechargeable ‘goldclub’ card which costs QR 100 (GBP £21.58, USD $27.47) to buy (before you add credit), or a ‘Gold Day Pass’ which costs QR 30 (GBP £6.47, USD $8.24) you can ride all day and pay only a maximum of QR 30.

Gold Class cards are also available within the stations, and in fact there are special Gold Class offices, so you even get special treatment buying your cards.

Please see the Metro website for more information: https://www.qr.com.qa/static-content?code=AboutTravelCards

A very affordable and convenient way to sightsee in Doha, is to jump on a number 777 bus. It doesn’t have too many stops and travels from Doha International Airport, along the Corniche, through West Bay and on to the Pearl. The route takes in some of the must see sights of Doha.

The bus stop in front of City Center Mall for route 777
The bus stop in front of City Center Mall for route 777

The 777 route is circular, so it will bring you back to wherever yo get on. Unless you get off at any of its interesting stops. And buses run at a frequency of 20 minutes. So you never have long to wait for one to come along if you do get off.

You can buy a Karwa Smartcard on the bus. But they only accept local currency. And they are an absolute bargain at just QR 10. Even better is the fact that you can use them for up to two rides. So if you do get off. You can get back on and ride on the same ticket again. But you can only do that once. Or you will need to buy another ticket.

The service starts at 5am and ends at 11pm seven days a week. So there is plenty of opportunity to take a ride. Please take a look at our YouTube video below, to get a good idea of what you will see.

A quick video showing what you can expect along the route

You may also be interested in Catching a Bus from Doha International Airport Qatar

For more information on the Karwa public bus service, please visit:
Mowasalat-Karwa

If you are considering buying a new mobile phone in Qatar, below are some sample prices to guide you.


All mobile phones sold in Qatar are unlocked

In Qatar there are no monthly contract deals for mobile phones combined with usage. All mobile phones sold in Qatar are unlocked and ready for any service provider.

The prices given below are the cheapest found on the date shown along with the retailer offering these prices. Only the cheapest prices are shown. If a cheaper price is found then that price will be updated along with the retailer where it was found.

Best prices 3rd Feb 2019
Best prices 3rd Feb 2019

The Amazon Kindle Fire 7″ found in Carrefour City Center needs a special mention. QR 239 is a really great price. That’s the same as in the UK and you don’t have to pay a fortune to ship it to Qatar.

Amazon 7" Tablet
Amazon 7″ Tablet in Carrefour, City Center Mall
Mobile Phone Retail Display

Most visitors arriving at Hamad International Airport will just want to jump into a taxi and quickly get to where they are going. But if you are not too tired, can easily handle your luggage and have a little more time on your hands. You can elect to take a bus for a fraction of the cost. Getting around Qatar can be very affordable using the Karwa bus service.

Bus tickets cost between QAR 2.50 and QAR 7.00 but can only be paid for by cash (local cash). Single journey tickets can be bought on the bus.

You can also buy Smart Cards at a machine located in the Bus Terminal at Hamad International Airport. The machine accepts local currency or a credit card.

KARWA SMART CARD

Public transport smart cards are needed to ride Karwa public bus. Top-up amount in multiples of Qr.10. Buy and top-up Karwa smart card at ticket vending machines at Hamad International Airport, Doha Bus Station, The Pearl Qatar and Qatar Mall, also partner merchants.

Three types of Karwa smart card:

  • Classic Card, (Cost: QR.30): Rechargeable card for long term.
  • Limited Card, 24hr (Cost: QR.10): Good for two journeys within 24-hrs of purchase.
  • Unlimited Card, 24hr (Cost: QR.20): Good for unlimited journeys within 24-hrs of purchase.
Sample Exchange Rates0.210.270.2414.44
QRGBPUSDEURPHP
Limited Card, 24hr102.082.752.41144
Unlimited Card, 24hr204.165.494.82289
Information on Karwa Bus Smart Card Machine

For more information and to check the information being given in this article is still up to date and correct, please go to www.mowasalat.com or call Qatar (+974) 443 66 053

Routes and time

Public Bus Routes from Hamad International Airport
Bus No. 777
Bus No. 777 runs from 5am until 11pm every day
Bus No. 109 runs from 4:33am until 10:50pm every day
Bus No. 737
Bus No. 737 operates 24hrs a day
Bus No. 727
Bus No. 727 runs from 4:10am until 10:10pm
Bus No. 747
Bus No. 747 runs from 4:50am until 11:50pm
DOH Airport Bus Terminal
DOH Airport Bus Terminal

It’s easy to get FREE WiFi on Arrival at DOH

When you arrive in HIA (Hamad International Airport) Qatar or DOH as it will appear on your ticket, you can get access to the airports free WiFi. After disembarking from your aircraft simply turn on your phone and connect to #HIAQatar Complimentary

Select #HIAQatar Complimentary from available Wi-Fi to sign into the FREE HIA Wi-Fi
Select #HIAQatar Complimentary from available Wi-Fi

After connecting to #HIAQatar Complimentary you should see the screen below.

Connect using your Qatar Airways QR Booking Code found on your ticket or by receiving a code via SMS

There are two ways to get free internet at HIA, if you flew with Qatar Airways you should select [Connect using QR booking]. You will find your QR booking code on your ticket. If you arrived with any other airline you need to select [Connect using SMS]. If you select [Connect using SMS] you will need to enter the phone number of your mobile.

Select the country your SIM is registered in and enter your mobile phone number
Select the country your SIM is registered in and enter your mobile phone number

WARNING: The only disadvantage of using the [Connect using SMS] option is that you must have roaming enabled on your phone to receive the SMS Access Code if you are not using a Qatari SIM. If you are enabling roaming on your phone you may want to ensure that data roaming is turned off to avoid incurring expensive data roaming charges. Make sure you turn off data roaming before turning off your phone during takeoff.

Once you receive your Wi-Fi Access code, you simply enter it and your free WiFi will begin. Then you can turn off all roaming on your phone if you need to.

Enter the code sent to you via SMS
Enter the code sent to you via SMS

Now you can use the free WiFi to chat with whoever is meeting you on the other side in arrivals, and let everyone back home know you have arrived safely.

Want to know more about the prices of Fast Food in Qatar? Here is a price guide for what to expect to find in food courts across Qatar. This section will be updated as often as possible, but please treat it as example prices only. Also please be aware that exchange rates change much faster than this price guide can be updated.

McDonald’s Prices

McDonald's Qatar Menu Board January 2019
McDonald’s Qatar Menu Board January 2019
Sample Exchange Rates0.210.270.2414.44
QRGBPUSDEURPHP
Big Mac Meal193.955.224.58274
Big Tasty Meal214.375.775.06303
Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal204.165.494.82289
McRoyale Meal204.165.494.82289
Chicken Mac Meal204.165.494.82289
McChicken Meal (Original)193.955.224.58274
McChicken Meal (Spicy)204.165.494.82289
McArabia Chicken Meal204.165.494.82289
Grand Chicken Meal (Spicy)244.996.595.78347
Grand Chicken Meal (Special)234.796.325.54332
Chicken McNuggets Meal (9 pcs)204.165.494.82289

Link to McDonald’s Qatar Home Delivery menu click HERE

Burger King Prices

Burger King Qatar Menu Board January 2019
Burger King Qatar Menu Board January 2019
Sample Exchange Rates0.210.270.2414.44
QRGBPUSDEURPHP
Whopper Meal204.165.494.82289
Double  Whopper Meal244.996.595.78347
Triple Whopper Meal265.417.146.27375
Big King XXL Meal244.996.595.78347
Chicken Whopper Meal234.796.325.54332
Chicken Royale Meal244.996.595.78347
King Chicken Fillet Meal244.996.595.78347
Chicken Steakhouse Meal234.796.325.54332
Chicken Crisp Meal173.544.674.10245
Chicken Tenders Meal (10 pcs)193.955.224.58274

Link to Burger King home delivery menu click HERE

KFC Prices

KFC Qatar Menu Board January 2019
KFC Qatar Menu Board January 2019
Sample Exchange Rates0.210.270.2414.44
QRGBPUSDEURPHP
Dinner Meal234.796.325.54332
Crispy Strips Meal234.796.325.54332
Mighty Bucket Meal275.627.426.51390

Link to KFC home delivery prices click HERE

Jollibee Qatar Menu Board January 2019
Jollibee Qatar Menu Board January 2019

Super pleasantly surprised

Just occasionally I get a nice surprise. And on Friday I was super pleasantly surprised. We headed to a restaurant located in a mall. Now when I think of restaurants in malls, my expectations are not that high. But this restaurant quite simply doesn’t belong in a mall. I’m talking about ‘Layali Aley’. Located on a corner of Gulf Mall, and accessible only from the outside. So you could argue it’s outside a mall instead of inside.

We have visited and paid for our breakfast at the SMBC. Our review is first hand informed and independant
We have visited and recommend Layali Aley

I knew nothing about the restaurant in advance. I was invited by my son to go with him, and he didn’t know much about it either until we got there. So this is why I had such a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Opulent

Layali Aley is quite simply opulent. Oozing with quality and comfort. And serving some of the best Lebanese cuisine I have ever tried. Their food is right up there with the very finest in Qatar. Not what you expect to find in a mall. And here is the real kicker… they are really, really, reasonably priced. Our three courses with drinks (excluding shisha) came to around QR 200 each. And trust me you would not mind paying it.

The soft furnishings mean you feel relaxed and unhurried. This is an environment where you can settle down and dwell. The service was attentive and informative, and quite educational as well for me. There is nothing rushed about Layali Aley. You do not feel like you are being processed, harvested and your table released as soon as possible.

Exceptional food

The food was exceptional. I’m not a food critic, so I’m not going to bore you with detail. I will simply say that the food was cooked to perfection, presented beautifully and burst with flavor.

Shisha

After our meal we settled back and enjoyed some shisha. I’m not a shisha expert, but this was good shisha. If you don’t like smoke there are areas where you can escape it.

If you are in, or near Gulf Mall. I strongly recommend you set aside some time for Layali Aley. Take some good company with you, and be as pleasantly surprised as I was. Ask for Krishna, he will look after you.

Layali Aley: +974 44 56 82 45

https://www.layalialey.com/

Located in Gulf Mall

In just 4 hours, get an entire vacations worth of photos to send home, and learn about the beautiful city that is Doha.

Qatar is full of interesting and mostly free things to see and do. I have been in Qatar for nine years and considered myself very capable of showing people around here. How wrong I was.

Qatar Quick RecommendedLast weekend I was invited by Sand Dunes to take one of their 4 hour city tours. I jumped at the opportunity because up until then I had never had a professional guide show me around Doha. Sure when I first got here a number of friends drove me around and gave me their thoughts and beliefs on what was what. But they could never have been as well informed as my guide was on this tour.

I strongly recommend that anyone visiting Qatar, who has an interested in learning about this wonderful country. Should give Sand Dunes a call and book their great value City Tour.

I had booked a night in the Saraya Corniche hotel last Thursday evening, and arranged to be picked up for my guided city tour from there. Sure enough at the allotted time (4:30pm) I got a call from someone who introduced himself as ‘Firas’ from Sand Dunes, informing me that he was downstairs in reception waiting for me.

Firas was super easy to like immediately. He was warm, friendly and extremely attentive. He helped me into his large 4×4 and asked a few questions about what I may be interested in seeing. The tour is not a fixed route with a fixed schedule. Your guide will design your tour around you and what you are most interested in experiencing.

View of the Saraya Corniche Hotel from the MIA car park. That’s our black Land Cruiser bottom left.

We left the Saraya Corniche and drove the short distance to our first stop The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). On the way Firas started to explain the history, architecture and purpose of this stunning building. Some of which I knew, and some of which I did not. Firas certainly knew his stuff.

On arrival at MIA it became obvious my guide came here regularly. The security staff knew him and welcomed both him and me warmly. I had already agreed with Firas that as I only wanted to grab some snap shots of MIA because I had been there before. He would wait for me with the car while I popped up for a lightning fast photographic visit. I was gone about 10 minuets and when I returned Firas was chatting and drinking tea with security, who were keen that I should join them. Can you imagine that happening in the UK at any museum you can think of? I politely declined the offer and we were back in the car heading to our next stop; The Pearl.

On the way to The Pearl, Firas gave a running commentary on points of interest along the route. Instead of just driving me around the Pearl which is what I usually do when entertaining guests, he did the smart thing and took me to the visitor center. I first walked into the Pearl Visitor Center back in 2007 when I came to Qatar on a business trip. Inside the Visitor Centre there is a large model of the Pearl development. The model of the Pearl is still there, but vastly updated.

I found this very interesting and spent quite a while exploring the center. With more time I would have grabbed a coffee and a croissant there as well. In future I will take all of my visiting guests there instead of just driving around the Pearl. It’s far more impressive.

From the Pearl we drove to Katara. The word Katara is what appeared on maps up until 1738 as the designation for what is now Qatar. And now Katara is one of the must see, cannot miss, places to visit in Qatar. And you need to set aside quite a bit of time to do it. As part of the City Tour, it’s important to pop into Katara. But to explore it properly you will need an entire evening. You would also need to check their website for interesting events that are continuously taking place there, to get the maximum out of your visit. Firas drove me around the perimeter a couple of times so I could grab some shots. But we didn’t park and go in.

Next we drove through Doha city center to checkout the amazing architecture and lighting. When I say City Centre, I actually mean West Bay. I believe that the city center could now be described as the Msheireb area. But West Bay is where the concentration of towers is, and this is what forms the iconic skyline images you always see of Qatar. For me being driven around West Bay was a superb experience, because I am normally the driver, and I don’t get to properly look around. From a distance the truly amazing vista that is West Bay, is absolutely stunning. But up close and personal these buildings are truly breathtaking.

We exited West Bay through Al Bidda Park. We did not stop in Al Bidda Park, because once again this is somewhere to dwell and enjoy. But when you drive through it,  you simply can’t imagine that Doha is in a desert country. So much green! And beautifully lit. With free to use fitness equipment and BBQ pits.

Then we did a drive past the Emiri Diwan. This is like Buckingham Palace back in the UK. Except that the Emir does not actually live here. It’s just where he goes to work. His office if you like. This is where visiting dignitaries are hosted. It’s more impressive at night when illuminated. And another photo you simply have to take.

Last but by no means least, we headed to Souq Waqif. Which for me is the number one destination for anyone visiting Qatar. Souq means market and Waqif means standing. So yup, you figured it out. Souq Waqif means Standing Market. Located in the shallow Msheireb Valley there used to be a river, and the souq grew up on either side of that river. Because it was so muddy business was done direct from boats initially. And yes, everyone was standing. Who wants to sit in mud.

The river has long since dried up. But the souq grew up and out. Getting larger and larger and becoming the major hub of commerce in Qatar for many years. Unfortunately, in 2004 there was a fire, and a lot of Souq Waqif was badly damaged. The Emir ordered that it should be re developed but in an authentic manner. And what you see today is the result. Mostly new build, but built to look traditional and established.

I have been taking visitors to Souq Waqif for nine years now. But was only walking them around the obvious attractions. With not a lot of information to offer them. I knew where the best sights and sounds were. I knew that the spice market area would blow their sense of smell away. I knew where to buy souvenirs and I knew some nice restaurants. But Firas was able to do so much more. He took me to places that I did not know existed, and if I did know they existed I didn’t know why they were significant.

Throughout the whole tour Firas had been a wealth of knowledge. But in the souq he really came into his own. He knew everyone. Everywhere we went he was greeting and being greeted by souq employees, staff and businessmen. It was an amazing experience.
I strongly recommend that anyone visiting Qatar, who has an interested in learning about this wonderful country. Should give Sand Dunes a call and book their great value City Tour. Even if you have lived here for a while you would take a lot from it.

The price of the tour is per car (1 to 4 capacity) not per person, and costs QR 600 (GBP 122 USD 165 EUR 139). Divided among 4  that works out at just QR 150 each. An absolute bargain.

References

Sand Dunes: +974 4441 3313 http://sdqholidays.com/

Katara:  http://www.katara.net/en

Souq Waqif: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Souq_Waqif

The Saraya Corniche Hotel – ‘A Real 5 Star Hotel at Value Prices’ for those on a budget.

If you are looking for 5 Star luxury but on a budget, the Saraya Corniche hotel ticks all the box’s. At just QR 236 (GBP 48.00 USD 64.83 EUR 54.49) it’s an absolute bargain.

We have visited and paid for our breakfast at the SMBC. Our review is first hand informed and independant
We have visited and paid for our stay at the Saraya Corniche. Our review is first hand informed and independent

I booked on Agoda for a one-night stay, checking in on Thursday 10th May 2018. The QR 236 I paid was for a ‘Superior King Room’ but on arrival I was upgraded to a ‘Junior Suite’ at no extra charge. There was someone else checking in at the same time as me, and they got upgraded as well. I commented to the receptionist “Wow everyone is getting an upgrade” and she replied, “It’s Thursday Evening Sir”. So my advice is, if you want a Junior Suit for fifty bucks make sure you check in on a Thursday evening.

I shouldn’t complain, because my room upgrade was a massive bonus, but I wasn’t lucky enough to get a Corniche facing room. And that’s a shame because I have seen images taken from that side, and the view is breathtaking. But hey ho, I still had an amazing suite.

The interior decorators brought a real feel of elegance to the rooms, with bright vibrant colours. Even the furniture and bedding was errrr… shall we say ‘popping’. I loved it! Completely different to anything else I have seen in Qatar at any price.

I can’t tell you anything about the ‘Superior King’ room I booked, but my ‘Junior Suite’ was super spacious. And for a solo traveler a bit over indulgent. But if staying more than one night, I would have made a lot more use of the living area.

After checking in, I spent just a few minuets settling in, before I got a call from my Sand Dunes tour guide, telling me he was waiting for me in reception (I will tell you more about Sand Dunes in another item I’m going to write later). So I was back in the elevator and off for my 4 hour ‘City Tour’.

Once back from my superb City Tour, I headed to the 1st floor for dinner in the ‘East West Restaurant’. Had a fabulous meal there and then back down to the ground floor for a quick visit to the ‘Bamboo Asian Restaurant’ for an equally quick beer there, before heading off to bed. The Bamboo has the smallest bar I have come across in Doha. But it had a lovely friendly feel and very reasonably priced beer, so I was very happy.

In the morning I returned to the ‘East West Restaurant’ for breakfast. This is a buffet breakfast at an additional cost of QR 30 (GBP 6.09 USD 8.24 EUR 6.92) which needs to be paid for during check in. With plenty to choose from, you will not leave hungry.

After breakfast I went for a walk around the building. Checked out the pool, spa and gym areas. Popped outside to grab a couple of shots of the exterior, then back to the East West to sit down and write this account of my stay in the Saraya Corniche.

Something I have not mentioned yet, is the excellent location of the Saraya. I haven’t timed it, but I am sure you would be here in around 10 to 15 minuets by taxi from the airport. And if you like walking, you could easily make your own way to Souq Waqif, the Museum of Islamic Art, Museum Park, and the soon to open ‘The National Museum of Qatar’. Plus so much more I can’t even think of mentioning at the moment. Location is a really good reason for choosing the Saraya.

In fact just as I am finishing writing this, I started talking to Sue. Sue was sat on the table next to me during breakfast. She was traveling solo. Although no stranger to the gulf region, she had never been to Qatar. She arrived early yesterday morning, bought a QR 20 all day bus card at the airport bus terminal and used it to ride to the Saraya. Checked in, and then walked to Souq Waqif and the Museum of Islamic Art. I asked her how long it had taken to walk to Souq Waqif and she said she walks fast, and it had only taken her 10 minutes. She continued to use her QR 20, 24 hour bus card to ride into the City Centre and wander around there.

Sue was proof that Qatar can be explored and enjoyed for very little indeed. And the Saraya Corniche is a perfect location to have as a base.

Book your stay in the Saraya Corniche by Clicking Here

agoda Verified Affiliate

Free Visa on Arrival for 81 Countries

Passport holders of 81 countries can get a free visa on arrival in Qatar. They do not need to do anything in advance. No forms to fill in, no paperwork, no online applications. Everything is done quickly and efficiently at passport control in Hamad International Airport (DOH). Some countries get visas for 30 days stay in Qatar, extendable by a further 30 days. And some are entitled to 90 days, but that cannot be extended.

If you are not a passport holder in one of the countries listed below, then you will need to visit the Visas in advance section of Qatar’s Ministry of Interior website.

Country Days
1 Andorra 30
2 Argentina 30
3 Australia 30
4 Austria 90
5 Azerbaijan 30
6 Bahamas 90
7 Belarus 30
8 Belgium 90
9 Bolivia 30
10 Brazil 30
11 Brunei 30
12 Bulgaria 90
13 Canada 30
14 Chile 30
15 China 30
16 Colombia 30
17 Costa Rica 30
18 Croatia 90
19 Cuba 30
20 Cyprus 90
21 Czech 90
22 Denmark 90
23 Ecuador 30
24 Estonia 90
25 Finland 90
26 France 90
27 Georgia 30
28 Germany 90
29 Greece 90
30 Guyana 30
31 Hong Kong 30
32 Hungary 90
33 Iceland 90
34 India 30
35 Indonesia 30
36 Ireland 30
37 Italy 90
38 Japan 30
39 Kazakhstan 30
40 Latvia 90
41 Lebanon 30
42 Liechtenstein 90
43 Lithuania 90
44 Luxembourg 90
45 Macedonia 30
46 Malaysia 90
47 Malta 90
48 Mexico 30
49 Moldova 30
50 Monaco 30
51 Netherlands 90
52 New Zealand 30
53 Norway 90
54 Pakistan 30
55 Panama 30
56 Paraguay 30
57 Peru 30
58 Poland 90
59 Portugal 90
60 Romania 90
61 Russia 30
62 San Marino 30
63 Seychelles 90
64 Singapore 30
65 Slovakia 90
66 Slovenia 90
67 South Africa 30
68 South Korea 30
69 Spain 90
70 Suriname 30
71 Sweden 90
72 Switzerland 90
73 Thailand 30
74 The Maldives 30
75 Turkey 90
76 Ukraine 30
77 United Kingdom 30
78 United States of America 30
79 Uruguay 30
80 Vatican City 30
81 Venezuela 30

The Sapphire Plaza Hotel, quality at a value price

Qatar Quick Visited
Qatar Quick Visited We visited the Sapphire Plaza Hotel and paid for our room. This review is independent and first hand informed.

The Sapphire Plaza hotel is among the very finest Value hotels in Qatar. It’s almost unfair to call it a value hotel because it doesn’t look or feel like one at all. The basic room rate is just QR 220 (GBP 43.38 USD 60.43 EUR 49.90) and that is an absolute bargain.

Sapphire Plaza Hotel 8.4 Rating on Booking.com
Sapphire Plaza Hotel – 8.4 Rating on booking.com

The entire building reflects a much more expensive venue. This is a very popular and busy hotel. You only have to look at its ratings to see that. 8.4 Rating on bookings.com

The location is excellent for getting to all of Doha’s main tourist attractions, giving low taxi fares to almost anywhere that you need to visit.

The staff are brilliant, happy and helpful. No request was too much for them.

The room is much more than you would expect for the money. Everything was clean and in good condition. Well serviced.

Clean, neat and tidy bedrooms
Clean, neat and tidy bedrooms

  • Plush fittings
  • Comfortable bed
  • TV
  • Free WiFi in room and throughout the hotel
  • Full feature bathroom complete with Bath/Shower WC, Bidet, Wash basin, Hair Dryer
  • Dressing Gown if you are not like me a little overweight
  • Tea/Coffee making facilities
  • Complimentary Bathroom Toiletries including Soap, Shower Gel, Shampoo, Shower Cap, Dental, Shaving and Cotton Buds

For me a hotel needs to at least provide the basics. Fresh and clean room, a good night’s sleep and a refreshing shower in the morning. A good breakfast is a bonus. And the Sapphire Plaza gave me all of that.

Last night I went for the buffet dinner in the Sapphire Plaza’s ‘Al Maha’ restaurant. At QR 50 it represents good value. They also offer à la carte if you don’t fancy the buffet. Or alternatively you can be in almost any one of Doha’s excellent restaurants for around a QR 20 (GBP 3.95 USD 5.49 EUR 4.55) taxi ride.

Sapphire Plaza Hotel - Breakfast
Sapphire Plaza Hotel – Breakfast

Breakfast is just QR 25 (GBP 4.94 USD 6.86 EUR 5.68) and worth every penny. It’s a buffet breakfast offering something for nearly all tastes. You should not leave hungry.

After breakfast I packed my backpack and headed down to the lobby to write this review of my stay. Like everywhere else in this hotel, the lobby has a quality and classic feel. I am very happy to sit here and use my free WiFi to get a bit of work done before heading off. I have already had plenty of coffee with my breakfast, but if I wanted it there is a lovely coffee shop right here in the lobby.

I usually make a point of using all of a hotels facilities so that I can fully experience all they have to offer. But today I failed to use the pool or the gym. I did pop in and take a look at both. But decided against taking photographs because they were in use and I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. But both facilities were clean, modern and very much up to my standard. The pool is a little small to do serious laps in. But if like me all you want to do on vacation is have a wallow, this pool is perfect. And it’s indoors.

Free in-room WiFi, Indoor Pool, Gym, Gift Shop, Café, Free basement parking

No alcohol available in this hotel

Check in: 2pm
Checkout: 12 Noon

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Room Rate: QR 220 (GBP 43.38 USD 60.43 EUR 49.90)
Evening Meal (Dinner Buffet): QR 50 (GBP 9.86 USD 13.73 EUR 11.36)
Breakfast Buffet: QR 25 (GBP 4.94 USD 6.86 EUR 5.68)
Hotel arranged pickup at airport: QR 100 (GBP 19.77 USD 27.47 EUR 22.73)
Taxi from airport: Should not exceed QR 50 (GBP 9.88 USD 13.73 EUR 11.36)
Taxi to Souq Waqif: Should not exceed QR 10 (GBP 1.97 USD 2.74 EUR 2.27)
Taxi to nearest mall (City Centre): Should not exceed QR 20 (GBP 3.95 USD 5.49 EUR 4.55)
Taxi to nearest bar (Centro): Should not exceed QR 10 (GBP 1.97 USD 2.74 EUR 2.27)
Nearest shops/restaurants approximately 10 mins walk.
Currency conversions as at 27/04/2018