When you think about Doha the first image that comes to mind is probably desert sand dunes and oil. Granted that that is exactly what Qatar is known for I cannot blame you, but I was recently pleasantly surprised to find much more going on in the capital city of Qatar when I had a 14 hour layover and decided to head into the city to kill some time.
The massive airport has equally enormous works of art displayed throughout the terminal and serves as a good preview for the wonders of the city as you head through customs and out the doors into the hot air. We got unto a bus just after 20h00 in the evening shortly after leaving the airport doors and was immediately aware of the heat. During the daytime Doha can easily reach temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius and does not cool down overly much during the evenings.
We were taken to a viewpoint of the city where colorful boats adorned with lights take passengers for rides. The architecture in Doha is unlike anything you will see anywhere else in the world. The buildings are reminiscent of the images you will see in Disney’s Aladdin movie but instead of camels you find the newest and most expensive cars on the street. The city seems to come alive at night and shops are open until very late.
We passed the King’s summer palace and his own private airport to Pearl Island where you can still buy a Ferrari 22h00 at night and private yachts lie in the harbor. Designer shops are the only clothing brands you see around here and skyscrapers and spectacular buildings make you gawk at every sight.
Our tour guide told us that Qatari’s are given a house when they graduate from high school. They get to study at any university in the world as the government pays for their tuition with a promise of a job at management level when they return. Want to get married? No problem, the government will give you a loan at 0% interest of 300 000 Riyals that you can pay back at your own pace. The country allows no foreigners to own property and as soon as you retire from work you have to go back to your own country. The busses are driven by foreigners, the hotels are cleaned by foreigners, the buildings are built by foreigners… and oil is name of the game there. Foreigners are paid good salaries to work in Qatar but they do not get to stay permanently. The country takes care of it’s own.
We went to a market before heading back to the airport. At 22h00 it was bustling with people watching soccer and eating at restaurants while smoking Hubbly Bubbly or Hookah with their friends. Little shops in narrow streets formed a maze of exotic smells and sights and vendors happily chatted to each other while selling merchandise to tourists and locals. Brightly colored mosaic tiles decorated the walls. Gorgeous lanterns lit up the shops with welcoming lights.
I could have gotten lost in this place for hours but I had a plane to catch and the heat of morning was something I preferred to miss in this desert land so we hurried back to the airconditioned bus and to the airport for our flight back to South Africa.
If you would like to spend more than just an hour or two in Doha Qatar – give Easy Gallivant Travel Agency a call at +2717 634 5799 or email Manda at firstname.lastname@example.org