As a child, I always loved Aladdin, so when work asked me if I wanted to go to a conference in Doha (we were the organisers of the conference) I didn’t even have to think about it and immediately said yes! I imagined it to be like a fairytale and well, it was!
Qatar is the first country in the Middle East I have ever travelled and very easy to get to from the UK. There are several flights per day with Qatar Airways from London Heathrow. The flight was around 7 hours and with a good book, I quite enjoyed it since I usually fly EasyJet and Qatar Airways has a really good service.
The Hotel we stayed in was the Oryx Rotana which is also owned by Qatar Airways and OMG is was AMAZING! I have never stayed in a 5 Star Hotel and the service, as well as the accommodation and the food and the design of the hotel were amazing! Below is a picture of the lobby which also featured a huge Christmas tree, needless to say it was a bit bizarre to see a Christmas tree when it was 26 degrees outside!
Since I was in Doha for work, I didn’t see as much as I wanted to see but we did go to a couple of places outside the hotel in the evenings. Funnily, we tried walking from the hotel to the city centre. Quick tip: don’t even try! There are basically no pavements and no one walks. It’s better to wait half an hour for your taxi because distances are much further than they actually appear on the map!
One of the first things we went to see was Souq Waqif which is a huge market that has tons of traditional crafts and international restaurants. It also features a Falcon Hospital and a Camel and a Horse stable.
My favourite part of Souq Waqif has to be the Gold Souq which just looked absolutely stunning!
I was very tempted to take one of the lovely lamps home, but I was too afraid that it might break in my suitcase.
In the centre of the Souq, you can find the Ibn Abdul Wahab Mosque. It is slightly elevated, beautifully designed and can be seen from almost every point in the city.
On our second and sadly last night out, we went for a walk on the Corniche which is the waterfront promenade leading from the Museum of Islamic Art (which you can see in the picture below) to the artificial islands called The Pearl in the North.
The skyline of Doha is absolutely stunning, especially at night. Unfortunately my phone is not very good at taking pictures in the dark, but I hope it gives you an idea.
We had dinner at a restaurant on the Corniche and enjoyed the moon shining over Doha Bay. It was so beautiful, that you could almost imagine the moon to be fake because it was so bright and reflected so nicely on the water.
Qatar was definitely as I imagined it. Being the world’s richest country per capita, everything was new, shiny and polished from head to toe. There were lots and lots of building sites and it seemed a bit incomplete. It was definitely worth the trip but I felt like it lacked a bit soul because it didn’t feel like its history was not visible any more. I would love to see more Arabian history and cities like Abu Dhabi, Muscat and visit Bahrain in the future.
Have you been to the Middle East yet? Which places would you recommend?