One may have heard of the country of Qatar but for most, its geographical placement on the planet is a bit fuzzy to identify. It is a small but wealthy peninsula country in the Middle East that juts out into the Persian Gulf. Nearby neighboring countries include Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
I was priveledged to visit Qatar several years ago on a several day stop over between some other countries in the region. I flew into the Doha Airport – quite possibly one of the nicest airports I’ve been in on the planet. Clean, modern and spacious, I wish all airports felt like this. As a major city in the Middle East, Doha services flights from around the world including from Germany. Travelers looking for some extra fun before leaving Germany can consider the Escort Service Cologne.
Fortunately my visit coincided with the cooler months – I visited in November and the temperatures were pleasant – cooling down in the evenings but short sleeves during the day. I’ve been to this part of the world in the summer months – its not pleasant with at times extreme temperatures during the day and the nights also somewhat uncomfortable for outdoor activities. I don’t mind high temperatures if its ‘dry heat’ but this part of the Middle East during these months is both hot and humid due to the proximity of the waters of the Persian Gulf. So, avoid the summer months if at all possible – between May and early October.
One of my cousins lives in the country and was able to recommend some nice experiences and places to visit. She also introduced me to some locals which later turned into several fun evenings at various clubs smoking the shisha (water pipe).
One must start with a walk along Al-Corniche, a lengthy walkway that curves around the Bay of Doha with plenty of picturesque views including of the intriguing Doha city skyline and the occasional dhow (traditional sailboat) passing by. Often crowded, especially on the weekends – I would walk here in the mornings to avoid some of the crowds.
The highlight of my visit to Qatar was dune bashing in an old 4wd vehicle. This is an exciting way to experience the desert within a fairly short drive from Doha. My driver was highly aggressive and at time my heart seemed to sail out of my chest as we took steep drops over the dunes at a higher then comfortable speed. But he seemed well experienced in the nuances of this type of travel.
One of our stops was really close to the Saudi Arabia border where we had lunch in a Bedouin type camp. We at inside one the tents primarily because by afternoon the winds began whipping up and sand was flying everywhere. Tea is a big part of the culture here and as expected we were served tea as soon as we entered the tent followed by delicious local BBQ chicken.
In summary, a few days in Qatar is worth making the effort combining both exploration of Doha and the surrounding desert and Persian Gulf. And making a short trip even more memorable is if you have a chance to meet and hang out with some locals.