Sat on a peninsula in the Arabian Gulf, Qatar is the newest star amongst the glittering Middle Eastern jewels. The capital Doha transformed from a quiet city founded on oil, to a huge city filled with the much beloved glitz that put Dubai firmly on the map.
There is a raw energy about Qatar, a rogue element lurking below the sanitised surface, this gives for an excitement that is sometimes lacking in such modern surroundings and a feel that is far less mundane than it first appears.
Sand dominates this state, sandstorms are a common feature of the ever changing landscape, they add to the rawness of the desert areas that are as untamed as they have ever been; this country of extremes will delight with its contradictions, glittering skyscrapers, huge shopping malls, luxury resorts and modern walkways of the city contrast starkly with the natural beauty of the true Arabian landscape and provide the experience of a lifetime.
The capital of Qatar is Doha, and this is no doubt where you will spend your stay, as it is where the concentration of accommodation can be found; all the big luxury names are represented, Ritz Carlton, Millennium, Marriott and Sheraton, to name just a few; all are of an incredible standard and all have price tags to match!
The Four Seasons although filled with the opulence and unashamed glamour of the other five star hotels does have a trick up its sleeve that sets it apart from the pack; this hotel not only has all the amenities that you could imagine but also has its own private beach and marina, this along with five pools and an exclusive spa, makes it the perfect place to really make the most of Doha’s fabulous waterside location.
Qatar has a great tradition of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, there are plenty of takeaway places that serve really good food but if you want something a little fancier there are some great Lebanese and Persian restaurants in the city of Doha; Al-Mourjan on the seafront serves excellent Lebanese favourites with a staggering view of the West Bay, this is a popular restaurant and with good reason.
Surrounded by water, it is hardly surprising that there are some excellent fish restaurants in Qatar, The Fish Market at the InterContinental Hotel on the West Bay manages to stand out amongst stiff competition, fresh fish is displayed for you to choose from, which is then expertly cooked by the highly skilled chef and brought quickly to your table – a highly recommended restaurant.
As a peninsula Qatar is surrounded by the sea, the clear blue waters are perfect for water sports, head just out of the city of Doha to Katara beach for a whole range of sporting activities, there is an admission fee (as is the norm in the region), and there is a recommendation that you stay fairly well covered on the beach (it is sensible to adhere to this). Jet skiing is the most popular of the sports along the coastline, but do beware of the confident locals who spend much of their leisure time in pursuit of thrills.
The winter months (the best time to visit) are host to the weekly horse racing meets that are extremely popular, the racehorses are stunningly beautiful Arabian horses and their owners are fiercely proud of their successes; this is where you will meet the well heeled locals who take this sport very seriously indeed.
October to April is the only sensible time to visit Qatar, the relentless heat after this time, coupled with high humidity can make Qatar uncomfortable for much of the rest of the year; although still hot during these winter months, the evenings are much cooler and the occasional rainy day can be seen.