The city of singing sand dunes

Lebanon’s neighboring country, Qatar, has wonders all its own. It’s the land where traditions and modernization converge together.

Just years back, Qatar would have probably been a monotonous city to visit. Now, it’s fast becoming an international hub and one of the most exciting cities in the Gulf.

Qatar is the kind of place where architecture mixes with fine cuisine, in addition to endless shopping and adventurous quests on camels accompanied by falcons. A spectacular modern skyline would be a “must see” while riding on traditional Arab dhows floating on the water, and watching the sunset from the top of sand dunes.

Qatar has opened its borders to more than 80 nationalities last season, leading to an easy access for Lebanese to visit.

In just four days you can visit the country during a long weekend getaway.

Traveling with Qatar Airways from Beirut would cost about $380-$500 (economy fare), a total flight of four hours.

The first sight you’d see would be “Hamad International Airport” which inaugurated late 2014 and holds the capacity to welcome up to 30 million passengers.

Its delicate architecture and outdoor fountains will make you feel in bliss while driving into the capital – Doha.

Once settled-in, the adventure begins.

Day 1:

Staying in “WestBay” – the economic hub of Qatar is the right thing to do, since it’s at the heart of everything.

The first “must-do” is to stroll alongside the Corniche where your gaze cannot escape the mini New York present in the heart of the Middle East.

A dhow trip would be easy to catch which would take you along the bay in order to contemplate the heart of Qatar from far.

Strolling down the Corniche, a large pearl fountain is present which reminisces Qatar’s main income before the Oil and Gas industry boomed, as fishermen used to extract pearls from the sea and make a living out of that.

Once there, it’s not long before you reach the Museum of Islamic Art – designed by the renowned architect Jean Michel Wilmotte in collaboration with I.M Pei. They are both renowned designers of the Louvre, the Allianz Riviera and many other beautiful sites around the world.

The museum park also known as the MIA park, is also open daily and allows you to relax while staring at the deep blue sea.

A trip to the “Souk Waqif” would be next.

The old Arabian souk is filled with international restaurants and small antique typical Arabian boutiques.

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Souk Waqif

Not to worry, it’s very easy to commute from one place to another; the local cabs are called “Karwa” and are easily identified thanks to their light green color.

Wherever you’re staying, you can have street food for dinner or dine in a five star hotel – the luxurious way.

Plenty of well-known hotels are available such as the “W Hotel” that holds the best sushi market in Doha “Market by Jean-Georges”, NOBU – the Japanese worldwide fusion cuisine at the Four Seasons; or the Sheraton where the Turkish Steakhouse “Salt Bae – Nusr-Et Steakhouse” is available among many others.

The hotels are just minutes away from each other.

Day 2:

An early breakfast and you’re off to go see the sand dunes in “Sealine” an ATV or car ride would be available at the price of QR150 – or $41 once there, or you can enjoy the dunes the typical Arabic way using Camels as your ride, for a price of QR50 – or $14.

You’d have the entire day to go on a safari trip and swim in the warm blue sea, take up crab hunting as a skill or even spend the night trying to find an Oryx.

Once back to the city, a quick break then a trip to the Pearl would be the next best thing.

“The Pearl” is an artificial island that holds exquisite international brand shops such as Hermes, Chanel, Dior, and Ferrari. Coffee shops or restaurants are also nearby.

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The Pearl

Next to the Pearl is located “Katara” – a cultural village that holds parks, art exhibitions, and an immense outdoor amphitheater inspired by Roman architecture, that would astonish you by its beauty.

Day 3:

A trip to the other side of Doha.

The “Villaggio” mall has an indoor Riviera that will make you feel in indoor Venice in the heart of the Gulf.

The “Torch” tower is right next to the center.

It is a 300 meter-tall skyscraper hotel that holds a panoramic view of all Qatar. The restaurant on the last floor holds a magic carpet that turns slowly across the entire room to really witness Doha’s 360-degree beauty.

After that, you have an array of malls you can choose to visit: The Landmark, Qatar Mall, which is the largest mall in Qatar, or Festival City, located next to Ikea, the Swedish home appliance store.

At night, you could experience Doha’s nightlife by going to the “Illusion Garden” for pre-drinks and then continue the soiree at “Illusion” which is the main lounge. It hosts a burlesque show with up-beat music and is located in Marsa Malaz – Kempinski Hotel.

Day 4:

On your last day, you could grab a nice brunch at any hotel or enjoy a Lebanese brunch to get back to the roots – at La Cigale Hotel.

Afterwards a relaxing spa could be the best thing you do that day.

Sharq Six Sense Spa offers you a spacious massage room with full accessibility to all their services. It celebrates simplicity with natural earth tones without compromising quality and cleanliness. It is one of the most requested spas in Qatar.

After which, it’s time to head back to the airport. A broad selection of restaurants and cafes and beauty salons are available as well as many other interesting new shops.

Doha’s specialty is in its food accompanied by dates and Karak, which is their famous tea, as well as diverse architectural designs.

Make sure to visit it once in your life; it is a unique and special country, easily accessible for your weekend away from home.

 

 

 

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