It’s official – Doha is one of the world’s hottest destinations right now and this has been confirmed by both the Forbes Travel Guide and the New York Times. And with the 2019 Asian Football Cup under its belt, the 2022 World Cup coming in hot and a string of exciting new openings and events in between, there is no better time to visit Doha.
In addition, Qatar has been named one of the safest countries in the world and thanks to the nation’s flagship carrier, you can easily access Doha from one of its 160 plus destinations around the globe.
Here are my top reasons by you should visit Doha in 2019:
Now one of the most accessible countries in the world, Qatar offers visa free arrival for passport holders of more than 80 countries. Citizens of these countries will not need to apply or pay for a visa; instead, a multi-entry waiver will be issued at the airport, upon presentation of a valid passport (valid for a minimum of six months) and a confirmed onward or return ticket. Qatar Airways now flies to more than 160 destinations from its’ home at Hamad International Airport and has an easy connection to a host of destinations in Europe, Asia and beyond. It’s the perfect stopover destination for those long haul flights to US, Australia and Europe. And, Qatar Airways also offers stopovers at Doha hotels starting from USD$23.
Arabic, Qatari, Indian, Filipino, Nepalese, Chinese, American, Mexican, Malaysian – the food options in Doha reflect its diverse population. Qatar’s food scene has come into its own with something to suit every budget. From celebrity helmed restaurants and temples of haute cuisine through to pocket friendly street food, there is something to suit every palate and budget. Coffee lovers will be well served with Qatar experiencing a caffeine fuelled boom in speciality coffee shops.My picks? Nobu Doha for a “big night out” and views to die for or hit Souq Waqif for some local flavors from cafe Shay Al Shamous.
3. It’s a culture vulture’s paradise
Qatar has invested heavily in its cultural treasures and is a haven for art and culture lovers. With the new National Museum of Qatar and 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum both due to open this year, there will be even more to keep you busy. The centerpiece is the Museum of Islamic Art and inside you’ll find what’s arguably the country’s most impressive collection of artefacts from across the Islamic world.
For a different perspective on the country’s history, head to Musherib Museums. Bin Jelmood House, Company House, Mohammed Bin Jassim House and Radwani House each take up a different aspect of Qatari life, from the evolution of family roles to the history of oil in the region and slavery. That’s all before you hit the galleries like the surprising Mathaf Museum of Modern Arab Art and the funky Firestation Gallery with its revolving exhibitions. You can also experience arts, culture and heritage at places like the extraordinary private museum owned by Sheikh Faisal Al Thani.
4. The Insta-Worthy Scenery
Doha is a photographer’s dream – from the picturesque Corniche to the rolling desert dunes. You don’t have to travel far to experience the “desert life”. In many cases, just an hour from the city, you can dune bash, swim in the spectacular Inland Sea or visit the Singing Sand Dunes. If you are on a longer visit, you can camp our over night, eat a BBQ feast and experience Bedouin life. Head west to see the eery but spectacular East West/West East sculptures by Richard Serra in the desert near Zekreet or stay close to Doha and visit Katara Cultural Village for the amphitheater and views of the bay.
5. It has a hotel for every budget
Doha used to be a haven for five star hotels, but as the World Cup looms, there is now something to suit most budgets. Don’t get me wrong, you can find some of the most luxe hotel suites in the world here – like the whimsical Mondrian Doha and the old school glam of the Four Seasons Doha and the Ritz Carlton. But those looking for something more budget busting or for a long term stay has plenty to choose from. Check out my blogging colleague Brian’s blog Qatar Quick which has a great guide to some of these options and unbiased reviews.
6. It’s heaven for shoppers
From the gleaming malls to the winding lanes of Souq Waqif, there is something for everyone (even those proclaiming not to be shopaholics!) in Doha. Malls like the Mall of Qatar and Doha Festival City house the high end designer labels as well as the more accessible high street brands. At least three new malls are expected to open in 2019 – so make those lists now!For some local flair, head to Souq Waqif for colorful pashminas, spices important from India and Pakistan and more. But for something truly unique check out the gift shop at the Museum of Islamic Art.
7. The warm and generous Qatari Hospitality – Qatar and the Qataris have been welcoming travelers for generations. It’s ingrained in the culture and exists even today. Those flying in on Qatar Airways get to experience it first with their warm welcome onboard. But this extends to Qatar’s people who are generous and welcoming – it will be a visit to remember!