Favourite destinations


Doha, the capital of Qatar, was once considered a dusty layover—a place you stopped on the way to exciting destinations like Dubai or Abu Dhabi. But that perception is changing quickly. As Qatar prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Doha is seeing a tremendous amount of construction and development . What's more, travelers are starting to appreciate the city's distinct local culture as well as its surprisingly good nightlife and international food scene. Put all of these things together, and it's the perfect time to plan a trip to Doha.

Here are seven reasons to visit Doha:

Souq Waqif is a must-visit destination, but it has more to offer than people watching, haggling and falcons on display. Deep inside its winding alleys, you will find a direct link to Doha’s past as a trading village: dozens of small shops heaving with mounds of colorful spices from India, Pakistan, the wider Middle East and Africa. Don’t leave without tiny containers of precious saffron threads from Iran or a decorative jar of layered spices.

For something distinctly Qatari, ask for a machboos spice mix, the secret ingredient for the local rice dish of the same name. Also keep a look out for dried limes (known as loomi), which lend a powerful and sharp flavor to regional dishes like saloona, a vegetable stew often incorporating lamb or seafood.

Few countries in the world experience the kind of rapid growth that Qatar is seeing right now with new luxury hotels, glitzy malls, and all kinds of megaprojects taking shape across the country. The bulk of the boom is, unsurprisingly, taking place in Doha, which is quickly becoming a world-class city. The breathtaking skyline is constantly changing with the addition of new (and sometimes fantastical) architecture, and residents say that the city is changing so fast that if you visit again in in a couple years you'll barely recognize the place. As part of this boom, the city is expanding on its (already impressive) arrray of museums and attracting lots of world-class restaurants.

One walk along the corniche (the crescent curve of Doha Bay) will almost make you forget that you’re smack dab in the center of the Middle East. During the day, the beaches surrounding the city are filled with sunbathing locals and tourists, and at sunset, the sky erupts into a cotton candy array of pinks, oranges, and yellows, and the sea sparkles like diamonds. For the best views, stroll along the east bay and then head west, past the impeccable Souq Waqif and a number of mosques until you see the city’s skyline with its buildings covered in mirrored glass.

One of Qatar’s natural wonders, Khor Al Adaid (or Inland Sea) promises adventure before you even arrive. Roughly 37 miles south of Doha, this UNESCO-recognized natural reserve boasting its own ecosystem is one of the few places in the world where the sea reaches deep into the heart of the desert. It’s also inaccessible by road — you can only get to this spot by an exhilarating 4×4 drive over rolling sand dunes.

With its abundant wildlife (including endangered turtles and birds), the secluded area is a popular place to escape the city. While you can visit for a day trip, it’s best experienced with an overnight camping excursion complete with a beach barbecue and sunrise swim. Go by yourself or join a tour group,  depending on the level of luxury you want to enjoy.

It's not very often that we get to witness the making of a nation. With Qatar, we are invited to do just that. To watch in awe as a tiny pearl-diving seaside village transforms itself into one of the most vibrant cities in the Middle East. And it's not just glitzy shopping malls, fine cuisine, five-star hotels, and futurist architecture, with 350 miles of sandy coastline Qatar has a lot to offer by way of sun and sand. It rarely rains and the sky is always blue. Which means, there is lots to do.