Category

Qatar

Category

Warning: This is completely unscripted and the commentary is dreadful

As there has been no news worthy of the News in 60 Seconds for the last 2 days. I thought I would do something different. And walk you around the Souq on the route I would take if I was guiding a coach full of visitors. We would cover the Spice Souq, Pet Souq, Camel Pen, Arabian Horse stables and the Falcon Souq. The tour would normally take 45 minuets, but this one is speedy and will take us around 16 minuets to have a good stroll around the COVID-19 period Souq Waqif.

It’s Wednesday 6th of May, this is the news in 60 seconds

In The Peninsula today – The Ministry of Public Health is going to carry out 2,500 random COVID-19 test. Volunteers will be selected randomly based upon age, gender and ethnicity. And will be invited by text message to attend one of three drive through swabbing hubs. They will answer a questionnaire and have nose and throat swabs taken. The aim of the exercise is to gain more insight into community transmission and A-sympto-matic cases. Which will in turn inform policy decisions.

The gradual reopening of the quarantined Industrial Area continues today. With the reopening of streets 1 to 32 for company staff. Material will also be allowed to move, but will require preapproval first.

Qatar’s COVID-19 mortality rate among the lowest in the world at just 0.1% of reported infections.

And Qatari sea ports saw a 247% rise in general cargo during April.

And finally

The Ministry of Public Health Tweet on COVID-19, 951 new cases, 114 Recoveries and no new additional deaths.

The Qatar News in 60 Seconds – Wednesday 6th May 2020

Read by Brian Candy – Twitter: @iCandy_pw

Sources @PeninsulaQatar  @HMC_Qatar @MOPHQatar

#Qatar #News #QatarQuick #Doha #Papers #qatarnews #DohaNews #60seconds

QatarQuick.com

Sources @Qatar_Tribune @PeninsulaQatar @GulfTimes_Qatar @HMC_Qatar @MOI_QatarEn @MOPHQatar @qatarairways

#Qatar #News #QatarQuick #Brief #Doha #Papers #qatarnews #DohaNews #60seconds

While visiting Katara pre Covid 19 I discovered their exercise trail. Nestled up high, with the distant Pearl development to one side and the Lusail Highway on the other. It really is a great place to run or walk. Or just chill out and enjoy the green space if you are not feeling energetic.

There are several ways to the exercise trail. However the easiest is to approach from the Al Qassar Doha Metro station. Just follow the Katara exit signs and when you reach ground level simply cross the road near the security. Continue walking and take the first left after passing the ornate street light (photo below left). Its quite a big road – see photo below right.

English Park

The whole area is reminiscent of an English park due to its many trees, huge grassy expanses and park benches. Not to mention picnicking families and kids enjoying themselves playing or running up and down the hills.

If you want some peace and quiet it’s a great place to come and read a book or listen to some music.

Katara Exercise Trail distance markers

The trail itself is purple colour and made of that bouncy rubbery stuff. So that makes it easier on your knees if running. Furthermore it features distance markers so you know how far you have gone. In total, the length of the Katara circuit is around 2km.

Katara exercise trail with distance markers
Exercise trail distance markers

Its rewarding to come early in the morning. Or late in the afternoon. Consider combining an afternoon walk with dinner from Al Fanar food truck. So just order your food, sit on the beach and rest your legs as the sun goes down.

Atmospheric view of Katara walking trail
Atmospheric view of Katara walking trail

All things considered, when the COVID 19 restrictions have come to an end where better to go and exercise than the Katara exercise trail.

In today’s news brief

The Qatar Tribune lead with a story stating that ‘All Shops except food outlets and pharmacies to remain shut on weekends. The Cabinet has decided to close all shops and stop all commercial activities on Fridays and Saturdays with the exception of food and catering shops, pharmacies and restaurants with take away facilities.

Also on the front page is a report saying there’s been an additional 28 recoveries from COVID19 bringing the total recoveries to 178. And 153 new cases detected. Taking the total cases to 2,210.

On page 3 they write that ‘Vodafone rewards COVID-19 fighters with unlimited airtime and data’

The Gulf Times front page has a story titled ‘Strategic food reserves enough for more than a year’.

And on page 3 they have a story headed ‘Qatar University centre offers online courses free of cost for public.

And finally Inside the Peninsula on page 2 there’s an item stating ‘HMC helps people overcome mental distress’

Links to Today’s sources

Today’s Qatar Tribune PDF

Today’s Gulf Times PDF

Today’s Peninsula PDF

Fancy an experience and need a haircut while on holiday in Qatar? There are loads of options in most of the malls. These can be quite pricey but generally good quality. However….

For an authentic experience, why not visit one of Qatars many mens salons or saloons.

Bin Mahmoud Metro Station Qatar

Basically, there are loads of places to get a haircut in the area surrounding Bin Mahmoud metro station. To find them alight at the Bin Mahmoud station on the Gold Line and head for the Ibn Mahmoud West exit.

Bin Mahmoud Metro West exit Qatar
Bin Mahmoud West Exit – Qatar

At the top of the escalators be sure to turn left and left again. Exit using the door pictured below – Bin Mahmoud West exit. Check out this visitors guide to Doha Metro Stations if its your first time in Qatar using Doha Metro

Image showing West exit
Head towards this door to exit

Turn left again and walk straight. Cross Qatari Bin Al Fujaah Street and continue. Along the way you will see restaurants and shops on your left including several salons. Select one here if you like the look of a place.

Alternatively continue along the street until you reach Al Jazeera Street, then turn left.

Walk along this road and you will find more salons as well as a plethora of restaurants and shops. There is an astounding variety of cuisines and choice here. Select from Indian, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Nepali, Filipino or Arabic – including Egyptian and Lebanese.

Top Tip

One very important tip. BEFORE you sit down in the barbers chair agree a price. Some Qatar salons display prices while others do not. Generally a haircut should cost around 10 Qatari Riyals. If you want your beard trimming – cut throat razor style – this will cost more. Consider having a photo of your preferred hairstyle on your phone to show the barber as their English can be limited. Please make sure you are open minded when choosing to have your haircut here as the standard may not be what you are used to. The barbers are certified by the relevant Qatar ministry and certificates should be displayed inside. Depending on the salon you may even get a head massage using Ayurveda oils. All in all a memorable experience and hopefully a great haircut.

Inside of Salon
Qatar Mens salon and barber

If you fancy a beer drop into the Centro Hotel where there is a very basic bar with reasonable – for Qatar – prices. Check out the area using google maps…..

Once you are done exploring you can choose to return to Bin Mahmoud station or walk all the way to the end of Al Jazeera street until you reach C Ring Road, then turn left. A short walk will bring you to Al Saad Metro station – also on the Gold Line. Continue past Al Saad station and you will find the 5 star La Cigale Hotel which is another neat place for a tipple.

Happy exploring and please share your experiences with us below

So, you can now use Doha Metro to and from Hamad International Airport. Awesome news but how exactly do you do this? In short, continue reading.

Hamad International Airport – Doha Metro red line

First of all, collect your bags and after clearing customs, be sure to turn right to exit. The entrance to the metro is only 7 – 10 minutes away. There are now two options.

Look up to see this sign after clearing customs – turn right!

Use lifts if you have heavy luggage

Firstly, after exiting right, turn left and walk straight past the Flight Information screens, as a result behind them you will find the lifts. Alight at level 1 then turn left and follow metro signage.

HIA Lifts
Walk past the Flight Information screens to the lift behind

This route is recommended if you have heavy luggage. It is permitted to take a baggage trolley in the lift and all the way to the metro entrance if you wish to.

Most noteworthy is that the moving travellators start automatically and might take a few seconds to start.

Way to Metro
After turning left out of the lift you will see the Metro signage

Second option (and the default route if you follow airport signage) is to turn right after clearing customs and continue walking straight. Follow the sign for metro/buses. Why not read Brian`s article about taking the bus https://qatarquick.com/catching-a-bus-from-doha-international-airport-qatar

In a while (in the corner) you will see the Vodafone local SIM counter and another sign directing you left to use the travelators going up (not recommended with lots or heavy luggage) upon reaching the top turn right and follow the metro signs.

Metro Left/Vodafone
Sign showing where to turn left and Vodafone counter in the distance

Continue straight to reach the metro, meanwhile if you want to pray there is a public mosque on the way, just follow the sign. The shape of a water droplet inspires Hamad International Airport mosque’s architecture and is very unique.

HIA Mosque
The beautiful Hamad International Airport mosque

Once you reach the end, take the escalator or lift and most importantly at the bottom turn left – do not turn right for the reason that it will lead you to a one way escalator (up not down) and steps.

Buying your ticket – staff are extremely helpful

Next buy your ticket from the machines on the right or if unsure, ask the extremely helpful staff to clarify the process. Pricing information can be found here https://www.qr.com.qa/static-content?code=AboutTravelCards

Select from local currency (ATMs and money changers are easy to find before you exit the arrivals hall) or if you rather pay by card then foreign cards are accepted too.

Buy Tickets
Ticket machines and member of staff

Screens display expected train arrival times. Another point to note is that to enter the train, the doors will only open if the class of carriage is shown above the door.

Screen signifying doors opening
Only wait at the doors with the lit signs

Finally, jump on the train. Consider using luggage racks (if travelling standard class) but stay aware if your luggage has wheels.

Metro luggage rack
Metro luggage rack

For Al Wakra and Free Zone stations you must get out at Oqba Ibn Nafie station and simply cross the platform to change direction. To continue towards Lusail on the Red line stay on the train. In contrast if you want to use the Gold or Green lines you must change at Msheireb.

All stations have lifts so make your journey easier by using them.

Doha Metro lifts
All stations have lifts

Continuing your journey after arriving at your desired station

Most noteworthy is that certain stations are connected to a (currently) free bus service within their local vicinity. To clarify your route use the excellent journey planner function on the Doha Metro website or ask the staff. https://www.qr.com.qa/home

You can also view and download detailed bus route maps using this link. https://www.qr.com.qa/metrolink

Alternatively use a metered green Karwa taxi if you spot one (minimum fare QAR10) or try Uber/Careem if you are familiar with them. On the other hand simply walk to your destination if close by.

Use the Metro to return to Hamad International Airport

Similarly you can return to the airport on the metro and after tapping out at the ticket barriers you will see luggage trolleys. In addition there is airline check in counter information and public conveniences.

Luggage Trolleys
Luggage Trolleys

Remember if you are heading to the airport from Al Wakra or Free Zone stations you will have to change at Oqba Ibn Nafie and board the train for the airport. If using the Gold or Green lines change at Msheireb and choose the train to Hamad International Airport.

In conclusion using the Metro is very simple due to the excellent signage and helpful staff.


Happy travelling and let us your experiences below……….

The Education Line

The Doha Metro green line is known as the Education line due to its links with Education City. The line consists of 11 stations. It starts in Al Mansoura and terminates at Al Riffa – home to Mall of Qatar and the refurbished Al Rayyan football stadium (one of the World Cup 2020 stadiums)

Green Line stations
Green line stations

Several stations on the green line have little interest to visitors because they are in residential areas. However if you feel like exploring then who knows, you may find something for you. Consequently, only the most interesting stations are detailed below. Lets take a look!

Go to Al Bidda Park – a great place to exercise!

As well as exercising, Al Bidda park has many attractions, activities and events, read more in Brians article:

https://qatarquick.com/visitors-guide-to-qatar-metro-stations

Al Bidda Park
Looking across to West Bay from Al Bidda Park

Lets hope you don`t need medical assistance during your visit. But if you do, the White Palace and Hamad Hospital stations connect you to the superb Hamad Medical Corporation and its various hospitals and facilities. https://www.hamad.qa/EN/Pages/default.aspx

The final three stations are where the BLOCKBUSTER sights are! So continue reading if you want to see or experience something out of the ordinary!

Qatar National Library Station

So, to access the library simply exit the station using the escalator on the right and cross the road. The other exit leads to Qatar National Convention Centre which you will read about later!

Qatar National Library is Qatar`s public library which contrasts state of the art technology with ancient artifacts and manuscripts.

Show library facilities
Some of the books at Qatar National Library

There is so much to see and do – visit the outstanding Heritage Library in the basement which showcases ancient manuscripts, books, maps and texts.

The Heritage Library
Heritage Library
The Heritage Library
Ancient Texts

Furthermore enjoy their temporary exhibitions, attend a public lecture, workshop, guided tour or music performances.

The library also boasts two cafés as well as a vast array of seating – perfect for reading or studying.

Showing library facilities
Study and reading areas at Qatar National Library

See their website for further information and schedules. https://www.qnl.qa/en

Oxygen Park

To find the park, firstly exit the library, turn left and follow the pathway. Opposite the huge white Education City Mosque you will see an entrance to Oxygen park on your right. Some of this area is partly under construction to extend the Education City tram – more of which later…

Oxygen Park
Oxygen Park from above

The park features historic buildings in the centre and boasts 130,000 square metres of gorgeous green space perfect for exercise, chilling out or picnics.

Oxygen Park Garden
Oxygen Park

Take a stroll through the Qur`anic Botanic Garden……

Quranic Park
A section of the Qur`anic Botanic Garden

…….or see the small but cute Botanical Museum

Botanical Museum
Qur`anic Park Botanical Museum

Various seasonal events are held in the park and include food festivals and sports for instance. On the other hand you could just relax under the shade of the “balloon lights” and enjoy your surroundings.

https://www.architonic.com/en/project/aecom-oxygen-park/5105220

Education City Mosque

EC Mosque
Education City Mosque – view from Oxygen Park

It is impossible to miss the Education City Mosque due to its sheer size and outrageous design. Some see resemblance to an aircraft tail while others don’t realise it’s a mosque at all!

Minarets
Education City Mosque Minarets with Arabic calligraphy

Enter the building using the door at the bottom of the staircase and experience the mind blowing architecture inside.

EC Mosque Staircase
The Education City Mosque entrance is to the right of the staircase

After registering turn right and go to the 1st floor, as a result you will find the public facilities. There are several “I  am here” maps for reference.

Consequently, the mosque prayer hall is easy to find. Please, please remember this is a place for worship so respect the rules posted at the entrance. Above all DO NOT forget to remove your shoes!!

EC Mosque
Education City Mosque

Exit the building into the exquisitely beautiful mosque courtyard. Most noteworthy is the Arabic calligraphy and quiet garden area – perfect for contemplating.

EC Mosque Courtyard
Education City Mosque Courtyard
EC Mosque courtyard
Education City Mosque courtyard

Finally, enter into the building opposite where there is a small coffee shop. Close by is the auditorium and a library.

Why not read some books in the library?

The library stocks books, magazines and newspapers in Arabic and English. There is also a section of French books.

EC Mosque Library
Education City Mosque Library

Because the selection of books is huge, you can read about womens roles in Islam, Arabic history, Islamic finance, art and architecture and religion. Likewise, choose from politics and political Islam, human rights and policy making and loads more.

EC Mosque Library

There are a number of work stations to sit and study or read. While upstairs, you will find a more relaxed area with big, comfy seats.

EC Mosque Library Soft seating
Perfect place to read a book

See Education City Mosque twitter account for recent news and events

https://twitter.com/ecmosque

Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC)

Meanwhile, to access QNCC use the Qatar National Library station exit signposted Khalifa Boulevard (North)

(Also exit this way to see an incredible art installation – Damien Hirst`s “The Miraculous Journey” – more later!)

Metro Exit for QNCC
Follow the signs for Khalifa Boulevard North

After exiting the station follow the path towards the huge building with a Sidra tree supporting it.

In Qatari culture, the Sidra tree is the iconic symbol of the country’s heritage. The tree has grown in Qatar`s desert for generations with roots that reach deep into the earth. Likewise, the tree was a beacon of comfort in the harsh desert environment and provided shade to travelers and scholars. Above all, they could escape the desert heat, gather together and share knowledge.

As a result, these principles are the modern base of Qatar Foundation and the Sidra tree is their official logo.

QNCC Entrance
The QNCC entrance with a Sidra tree supporting it

Check their website for details of the many exhibitions and trade shows hosted throughout the year. https://www.qncc.qa/

Catch a Concert or Performance

QNCC is also home to the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra which offers a diverse range of concerts and shows. They also perform at The Opera House at Katara Cultural Village, Qatar National Library and the Museum of Islamic Art. http://qatarphilharmonicorchestra.org/

Enjoy a coffee or snack

If shows, exhibitions or concerts are not for you then QNCC is still worth a visit just for coffee at the “Spider Cafe”

Spider Cafe

The entrance area is ‘guarded’ by ‘Maman’ – a famous spider sculpture created by Louise Bourgeois and gifted by the Qatar Museums Authority.

"Maman" the spider
“Maman” the HUGE spider sculpture guarding the entrance

Do NOT miss “The Miraculous Journey” by Renowned Artist Damien Hirst

If you exit the station and turn left (the opposite direction than for QNCC) the huge white building you see is Sidra Hospital. This is another public hospital exclusively for women and children.

Sidra Hospital
Sidra Hospital

Follow the footpath towards the hospital and you will see 14 huge bronze sculptures which chronicle conception to birth. Therefore the final sculpture is a statue of a 46 foot tall anatomically correct baby boy.

A taster of some of The Miraculous Journey art installation

There are loads of landscaped areas around so take some time to sit, relax and enjoy “The Miraculous Journey”

Education City Station

This station provides an alternative way to access MATHAF – Qatars modern art museum due to its link with the Education City tram. Ask the helpful staff where to exit the metro station and then look for the Tram stop. Tip – its impossible to miss as its directly in front of you!

EC Tram stops
Education City tram stations

The photo above shows the current stations. Hop on the tram and in minutes you will be at MATHAF. Finally make sure you press the green button to open the doors – they DO NOT open automatically!! http://mathaf.org.qa/en/

EC Tram interior
Inside the Education City tram

This tram in the future will also provide access to the under construction Education City Stadium, one of the 2022 World Cup stadiums.

Several of the individual Universities also have their own museums. Check out the links below if interested (list not extensive)

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) https://www.qatar.vcu.edu/events/into-the-light and Northwestern University Qatar (NUQ) https://mediamajlis.northwestern.edu/en

Go to Al Riffa Station and enjoy the Mall of Qatar

Al Riffa Station is the final station on the green line and as a result takes you to the largest mall in Qatar! https://www.mallofqatar.com.qa/

MOQ
Mall of Qatar courtyard

The Mall of Qatar is connected directly to the Al Riffa metro station due to an elevated walkway.

Connecting bridge to MOQ
Elevated walkway to Mall of Qatar

Other than shopping, the mall has something for everyone.

In the Oasis arena, there are regular performances, concerts and screenings which are all free.

Oasis Elevated
Oasis Arena and event stage in the centre

Furthermore, try 8 pin bowling, visit the 19-screen cinema – home to MENA`s largest IMAX laser screen or take the kids to Kidsmonzo childrens world.

MOQ Entertainment Schedule
Latest event list for Mall of Qatar – check their website for updated schedules

Feeling hungry? Don’t worry – choose from the food court or signature restaurants and cafes which overlook the Oasis concert area. The Oasis also features Singapore style indoor steel trees.

Oasis arena – Mall of Qatar

Attached to the mall is the Curio Collection by Hilton hotel should you wish to stay longer. Even more great dining options are available here.

Mall of Qatar Masterpieces

A little known, but fascinating, attraction of the mall is the seven MOQ Masterpieces. See if you can find them all – they have names such as the acrobats, the shoe and the bow tie.

For example, the shoe……best viewed from directly below…….

The Shoe MOQ
The Shoe – impossible to miss as you enter the mall

and certainly my favourite – The wall of egrets.

Egret Wall
The Wall of Egrets – all photographs in this article by Phil Wright

To sum up, I hope this article has inspired you? Above all, I guarantee you will not be disappointed by any of these attractions! Happy exploring!

Qatar Museums Free Shuttle Bus

Do you want a stress free and cost efficient way to visit Qatar Museums, Art Galleries and National Library?

Qatar Museums runs a FREE shuttle bus to and from Mathaf (Arab Museum of Modern Art), Qatar National Library, Fire Station, Qatar National Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art.

MATHAF Bus
Unmistakable MATHAF Bus

Its pretty much impossible to miss the bus due to its bright pink colour and black MATHAF BUS branding. The service is totally free and visitors should check the timetable below for detailed timings.

Mathaf Bus Timetable
MATHAF Bus timetable (subject to change so ask museum staff)

http://www.mathaf.org.qa/en/visit

As you can see the bus runs every day from Saturday to Thursday from 9am until 6pm and from 130pm until 6pm on Fridays. Please note the reduced number of destinations towards the end of the day.

Simply wait at a designated stop and jump on. Too easy!

Mathaf Bus Stop
MATHAF Bus Stop

For a truly personal experience in Qatar, I am now offering my services on an hourly basis.

I am a fully licenced tour guide, licenced by QNTC (Qatar National Tourism Council). And also an Honorary Cultural Ambassador for QM (Qatar Museums)

I have lived in Qatar for over 10 years, and I am absolutely passionate about the country.

You can use me for almost anything during your visit to Qatar. Including, but not limited to:-

  • Meet and Greet at Hamad International Airport
  • Meet and greet at sea port
  • Visit Itinerary Management for Business or Personal (hotel bookings, transport, arranging appointments)
  • All types of guiding – City Tour Guide, Cultural Tour Guide, Photography Tour Guide
  • Business consultation
  • Personal Assistant on call

Cost per hour QR 200 (minimum 2 hours) approximately USD 55/EUR 50/GBP 44 at time of writing. Payment in cash only but can be in any currency.

Call or message me on +974 704 54321 with your requirements

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