Recently, we went to Doha, Qatar on holiday. Doha is often used as a place to change aeroplanes and there’s a lot of business travel, but what does it have to offer a tourist.
- Stunning buildings – there are lots of skyscrapers. They look spectacular in the daytime, but many are lit up at night too.
- A feeling of safety. I felt very safe there, probably more than in my home city. Crime rates are low.
- Lots of investment going on in visitor attractions and improved transport ahead of them hosting the World Cup.
- Lots of business travel and not much tourist trade, so you don’t need to queue and places to visit aren’t busy.
- Lovely walk around Doha Corniche: a waterfront promenade which has fabulous views of the city.
- Very different culturally to places we have visited before (unless you have been to a neighbouring state). Many of the men wear the flowing white robes and headdresses.
- Emphasis on luxury and opulence. By day our hotel was beautiful, but in the middle of the night they had the workmen in the lobby doing maintenance and improvements (we only knew because we arrived and left in the early hours due to flight times).
- Fine sand dust in the air. It can irritate the eyes so wear sunglasses in the daytime. Many of the buildings are coloured tan so that the dust doesn’t show up.
- Lots of air conditioning. Necessary, but it brings other problems especially if it’s a bit fierce.
- Free wif-fi – they don’t seem to have fully embraced the idea yet. In our 5 star hotel the code we were given only covered 3 devices (we had 4 between us). You could pay extra for more devices, but you don’t really expect that in a 5 star. Also, few restaurants seemed to offer it. Where we did find free wifi outside the hotel, sometimes you had to get a code via your mobile phone number to access it (like in the souk). Not great if you are trying not to use your phone abroad and I felt a bit nervous. The Museum of Islamic Art did have good free wi-fi though without any of that sort of fuss.
- Traffic can be horrific at times. There are a lot of cars and everything ground to a halt when the police started directing traffic because of the Emir’s cavalcade.
- Lots of building sites, but they are building some amazing places.
- Took forever to get through immigration – 1 hour 40 minutes to leave the airport from touchdown. This was in the early hours of the morning.
- Male dominated society and most shopkeepers, restaurant staff, etc. spoke to my husband first. It wasn’t that big a deal, but I think I noticed it as I was providing him with the holiday.
- The day we were travelling the former Emir died. All the hotel bars and restaurants stopped serving alcohol for 3 days as a sign of mourning (we were only there 3 days and the ban was lifted as we left). Obviously he can only die once, but something similar could happen in the future.
I feel that I have listed more negatives than positives and this is a bit unfair as I did enjoy visiting Doha, Qatar. I should point out that some of the positives listed are big ones and some of the negatives are fairly minor issues.