Qualifying for the World Cup in 2022 is well underway. Although tickets are not yet on general sale for football’s showpiece event, FIFA began selling hospitality packages for the final earlier this year. If you’re planning to head over to Qatar to take in some games, why not make a holiday of it? Here’s everything you need to know about the tourist hotspots.
Right in the heart of Doha, you’ll find the Standing Market, or Souq Waqif. A traditional marketplace which sells spices, traditional outfits and other nick-nacks, here is the place to pick up some unique souvenirs. There are also several eateries in the vicinity, as well as the nearby Al Rayyan Theatre.
Founded over a hundred years ago, the souq was originally a trading ground for Bedouins importing livestock. The surrounding architecture is all in the original Qatari style. So for those wanting to see something a little authentic, Souq Waqif is a must-see.
The area is a particularly cool spot to visit after dark. You’ll find many cafes and restaurants offering good coffee, shisha and plenty of local delicacies.
Situated in the West End of Doha, this Venice-themed mall is packed with over 200 stores, including many top luxury brands. It first opened in 2006, but a controversial fire led to a refurbishment in 2012.
Since its reopening, you can find a lot of high-end goods for sale in the mall. Don’t forget to pick up your wallet, because Villaggio is an indulgent experience. Expect to see the finest Rolex watches, as described by male-mode, L’occitane perfumes and even Victoria’s Secret lingerie.
Be sure to visit the Gondolania theme park within the mall. Here you may enjoy the Olympic-sized ice rink, or take a ride on the boats inspired by the iconic gondolas of Venice.
National Museum of Qatar
For those who enjoy a little culture, NMOQ will be right up your street. Here you can learn all about Qatar’s life story, showcasing the unique heritage and vibrant culture. Opened in 2019, the building itself is incredibly striking and worth a visit for the architecture alone.
The National Museum of Qatar will keep you occupied for a full day, should you wish. With everything from a theatre to a park, which showcases plants native to the country, there are even two restaurants and a cafe inside.
NMOQ Director Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz bin Jassim Al Thani hoped to “create a museum of the past, the present and the future”. Exhibits will inform you about ancient wars in the region, the pearl trade and the discovery of oil. Named as one of the World’s Greatest Places to Visit by Time magazine, it’s fair to say they’ve achieved their aims.
Al Shahaniya Racetrack
Although horse racing is more widely associated with Dubai in the neighbouring UAE, the sport of kings is also popular in Qatar. Sheikh Fahad bin Abdullah Al Thani’s Qatar Racing operation is responsible for some of the world’s finest thoroughbreds. Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden is just one name among the many illustrious winners produced by Qatar Racing.
The racecourse at Al Shahaniya is certainly worth a visit, but keep in mind that you are not able to bet at the course. That’s due to the strict Islamic laws which forbid gambling in Qatar. So don’t expect to find anywhere to bet on the World Cup matches either.
Similarly, there are no casinos in the tourist resorts, unlike you might find in many other Middle Eastern countries. If you’re hoping to indulge in a casual flutter in Qatar, you’re better off checking out Arabian Betting. Guides like this will help you to find a VPN which allows access to the best gambling sites. It will also help you to identify the most generous bonuses and will advise on payment methods. All the casinos listed on Arabian Betting were carefully checked by a team of professional only listing the safest casinos that have a license.
Located north of Doha, around a 45 minute drive away, Purple Island is a breathtaking wonder of nature. Try kayaking through the mangrove swamps, enjoy the beautiful flamingos and other native birds, or simply admire the surrounding rocky landscape. If you’re looking to get out of the city, Purple Island is ideal for a picnic and a breath of fresh air.