17 JANUARY 2022


© 2022 Business Travel News Ltd.

Article from BTNews 17 JANUARY 2022

ON TOUR: Discover Qatar *

In last week’s issue BTN focussed very much on the 2022 FIFA World Cup due to be played in Qatar next November/December. 

See www.btnews.co.uk/article/18554

Editor-in-Chief Malcolm Ginsberg continues with his tale.

“Qatar is a fine, and different, destination, under seven hours from London, and about the same from Manchester and Edinburgh.  Spend a week or so there between now and June, after which it gets very hot.  And don’t worry too much about costs.  Qatar is not expensive.  It has a fascinating history exemplified by The National Museum, one of world’s great historical assemblages, given a modern twist.

Whilst it is possible to track Qatar’s lineage for many hundreds of years it was WWI that brought the 4,500sq mile peninsula into prominence, previously under Ottoman (Turkish) control, but becoming a British protectorate.  In 1971 Qatar became an independent state, and since that time, not withstanding various internal and local squabbles. It has developed at a prodigious rate, and with its mineral resources one of the richest countries in the world per capita income.  Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir, replaced his father in 2013, prioritising the domestic welfare of citizens with advanced healthcare and education systems, and especially sporting facilities.  With the World Cup in November, it now resembles a vast building site, but construction is due to stop two months before the soccer begins.  Today Qatar Airways is one of the world’s most successful airlines.  Only about 12% of the inhabitants are local, the rest drawn in for financial gain, but many many considering Qatar as their home.

Assuming your arrival is by air at the ultra-modern Hamad International Airport (opened in 2014) one can take a taxi into Doha City (less than £10) or try the Metro.  Construction work started in 2014 and the first of three lines opened in 2019.  Things happen fast in Qatar.


Park Hyatt
If yours is a business trip a very good selection might be the Park Hyatt in the fast-developing Msheireb downtown area where the three Metro lines (red, green and gold) converge and just 15mins from Hamad International. It is a 2–3min walk from the station.  

A business hotel, the standard rooms are exceptional in terms of size and amenities.  The staff are outstanding, always ready to help, even escorting us to the Mercure hotel opposite across a dual carriageway for an inspection.  

As with most Qatar hotels there are male/female gyms, and also an outside swimming pool.  As a Park Hyatt it does not have an executive lounge.  There is a Japanese restaurant called Sora on the 21st, top floor.  Near the reception level is Opus, by Michelin Star Chef, Jean-Francois Roquette of Park Hyatt Paris, with a beefburger priced at £35 (Q140)!  At street level, and not well signed within the property, Anis offers very good value alfresco dining, or just a coffee with delightful snacks.  You don’t have to be a resident.

Very close by is Souk Wafi, an authentic marketplace with myriads of passageways, clean and tidy but not as old as you might think. Partly destroyed by fire in 2003 it was enthusiastically and quicky rebuilt retaining its authenticity.  One of many eateries in the Shariq village nearby is the Parisa Restaurant serving original Persian meals in a traditional setting.  Terrific value.

The Torch
There are many hotels all over the world that for various reasons have a ‘wow’ factor.  The Torch, next to the Khalifa International Stadium and the connecting Villaggio shopping mall, comes into this category.  It is a minimum of 30mins from Hammad and sits between two Metro stations (Sport City and Al Aziziyah).  The hotel is happy to provide a buggy ride.  Also nearby is the Aspire Park and lake with children’s activities.  

Completed in 2012, and at this time still the tallest building in Qatar, all the rooms are on the outside and form part of the circular structure.  The gym/spas are separate for each gender, and on separate floors as are most facilities of this type in Qatar.    The large dip pool is cantilevered on the 19th floor.

Spread across 51 floors, each of the 163 luxury accommodation units is equipped with an iPad based customised control system for the lights and curtains operation, in-room dining menu, special requests, room temperature control, TV and radio operation and room servicing.  

Three Sixty is a unique diner located on the 47th floor and the only revolving restaurant in Doha.  Breakfast and lunch can be taken at the Flying Carpet, two floors up from reception and offering Arabic or international, your choice.  On the 21st floor is the ‘Tea Garden’, exactly what it says, but open from 15:00 until 23:00.

A stay in The Torch is a must when in Doha.

Ritz Carlton Hotel
The Ritz Carlton is considered one of Qatar’s premier resort hotels, and not without reason.  It dates from 2000 and at this time of the year is not unreasonably priced.  It offers 374 guest rooms including 61 suites and 42 Club Level rooms.  It is located in the West Bay Lagoon and Lusail islands development and may well become the key hotel for the World Cup.  Via the Corniche the property is a minimum 30mins from the airport and whilst most guests will arrive by personal transport Legtaifiya, last stop on the red Metro line, is a 15min walk, with courtesy transfer available. It has its own marina and water ski facilities.  The hotel is very child friendly with plenty of facilities available.

The Ritz Carlton has indoor and outdoor swimming pools with swim-up bar, whirlpool, plunge pool and children’s pool plus a large and very well-equipped spa. There are two indoor tennis courts and a squash court.  
It is a popular wedding and conference venue with two ballrooms.  The Ritz Carlton has everything you would expect from a 5-star hotel.

A short buggy ride from the main building, and waterside, the B-Lounge offers inside and outside dining, and is a popular dining experience with international and Asian cuisine of a very generous nature and fine service.  Save some space for the cakes. Guests can also dine at STK Doha, a steakhouse on the 23rd floor, or Sel & Miel French Brasserie.


One thing about Qatar is that it’s a very child friendly place, with numerous parks and youngsters generally welcome at the major tourist sites.

Katara Cultural Village

On the red Metro line and just 8 miles north of Msheireb, Katara and its fine beaches is a paradise for children with their own shopping mall, and is pretty good for adults too with quality shops and the Katara Cultural Village.  If you can find one, take a courtesy buggy to the front from the station and then begin to explore.

Katara is a maze of winding alleys and you can pop in and out of the dozens of galleries and venues hosting the creations of local and international painters, sculptors, photographers and other artists.  Behind the scenes it hosts the offices of numerous educational and scholastic institutions including the World Cup management.  What is remarkable is that nothing much existed here except sand at the turn of the century.  In its development the buildings and facilities were deliberately arranged in order to reflect the country's cultural and architectural heritage.
The imposing 5,000 seat amphitheatre was officially opened in 2011 with a concert by Greek composer Vangelis and has since hosted a variety of music performances, traditional dance shows and open-air screenings.  Just a few steps away is the Golden Masjid mosque covered with tiny golden chips. Katara is also home to an opera house, the only facility of its kind in Qatar and even more out of context is a Galleries Lafayette, the stylish French department store.  There is a planetarian and a theatre too.  They don’t do things by half in Qatar.

Unmissable are the Pigeon Towers an example of traditional Islamic architecture. In times gone by pigeons were domesticated not for their meat but rather for their droppings, which were used as fertiliser by the locals.

When it comes to dining clustered around the sea front is a whole variety of eateries ranging from Lebanese Arabic, through Greek and of course seafood.

Very close by are the Katara Gardens, a vast landscape of plants and flowers and a large number of evergreen trees adapting beautifully to the local conditions.

Qatar National Museum
Qatar is keen to promote its heritage.  The National Museum, opened in 2019 and replacing an earlier one dating from 1975.

Time Magazine named it one of the World's Greatest Places to Visit in 2019, citing the integration of "immersive video screens and dioramas" into architect Jean Nouvel's expansive design.  It is difficult to disagree with this interpretation of Qatar and its history. The building has a sandy hue that evokes the desert landscape.

A tour of the museum takes visitors through a loop of galleries that address three major, interrelated themes. The galleries are loosely arranged in chronological order, beginning with exhibitions on the natural history of the desert and the Persian Gulf, artefacts from Bedouin culture, historical exhibitions on the tribal wars, the establishment of the Qatari state, and finally the discovery of oil to the present.  The displays and installations that explore these themes present audio-visual displays with selected treasures from the museum's collections.

The Pearl Qatar
Opposite the Ritz Carlton is the Qanat Quartier, an artificial island covering nearly 4sq km.

Within its Murano precinct with its pastel-coloured low-rise buildings, intricate canals, pedestrian-friendly piazzas, is the State of Qatar’s very own little Venice.  Each waterway is spanned by stylish bridges further evoking the soul of Italian romantic living.  It’s the home for 30,000+ ex-pats who have a wide choice of boutiques and outlets to offer a great shopping experience. Residents and visitors can pick from a large variety of eating outlets.  No alcohol of course.  In the centre, on a separate island, is a Kempinski Resort and Spa.  But don’t get muddled up with The Palm, Dubai, or for that matter The Venetian Las Vegas. This one is much better.    

My four nights was not nearly enough.

For a truly authentic desert experience, nothing beats a camel ride over the soft dunes, before embarking on an exhilarating desert safari over the dunes to Khor Al Adaid, accessible only by 4x4 vehicles with drivers able to demonstrate fantastic skills in what appears to be impossible sand dune conditions.  I’ve done this previously, but time did not permit another desert journey.  An overnight (luxury) safari camp was also suggested.

There is a lot more to see”.  

Malcolm Ginsberg’s ground programme was organised by Discover Qatar, available at most good travel agents worldwide.









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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

malcolm Ginsberg, United Kingdom

Mr Davidson is getting the World Cup muddled up the Winter Olympics. It is true, as with any huge building projects, as much as people try, there is sadly loss of life. Workers, of all grades, come to Qatar for financial seasons, and of their own volition. Hard hats are the norm on all the building sites I have seen.

John Davidson, France

How many Bangladeshis have died in construction of the infrastructure for the Games? You doubtless won't publish that -- too bad. When Greece hosted the games, it was the Albanians who died. It was in the local English-language newspapers. Who WANTS to host the Olympics any more. We get them here in Paris sometime soon. We tremble already.

Jim Smyth, Windsor

My plan is to go to the World Cup with a group of friends. The current website prices for both hotels and the airline look very good. I might go out for a few days for a recce.

George Focus, Hampstead - London

A very informative piece on Qatar. I think I will give it a try rather than the usual Dubai. The weather must be the same.