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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Doha- the amalgamation of hospitality and sophistication

Pearl Qatar- Reflects Arabian lifestyle
My trip to Doha was never planned. It came out all of a sudden. Every year while booking tickets to home I prefer to travel via Doha. Doha, the capital city of Qatar a peninsular country situated in Western Asia whose terrain comprises of arid desert and the Persian Gulf. Being a busy hub connects almost 150 destinations have been the most preferred route due to convenience of accessibility quality airlines service. While I was travelling to my hometown Kolkata I had a layover of 12 hours. Such long hours in the airport seems to be a bit boring although there much to see and explore in the most modern airport. While I was exploring the airport something caught my eyes which were interesting. A free tour was arranged from the airport for people whole have flight at least 8 hours late. There are 4 such tours arranged by the Qatar airlines and I bumped into the idea. Immediately I spoke to the ground staffs and they helped me to book a seat for my family after confirming my boarding pass which showed that my flight was pretty late in the evening.
Doha schedule for guided tours


The tour was a complimentary gift from the airlines authority and I was overwhelmed to see a new county which I always considered was a transit to my desired destination. The tour was a guided one with a comfortable bus meant for city sight- touring. Just after boarding we were told about the rules and regulations to be maintained while on the tour. Special emphasis was given towards maintaining time limit to each and every point of interest. The disadvantages of not being in time were explained there by.  It was exciting to find a journey within a journey.

The Corniche

Dazzling pearl qatar at night

The first sight was Pearl Qatar which is man made island. Influenced and designed by world famous designers and architects of Spanish and French origin this place is a photographer’s delight. The Riviera living is situated by the side of La Croisette, a lively waterfront which has restaurants and shopping arcades lines by the sides. We stopped here to click pictures. It’s the ultimate of Arabian lifestyle combined with warmth and high standard of living. This is also called Porto Arabia.

Skyline compared to Manhattan

The skyline more or less resembled that of Manhattan but beauty is no way comparable. Qatar has opened its arms towards the world for employment and thereby making this city the ultimate of business hub. We were told that being a Qatari in Qatar itself is a matter of pride. Only 15% of the population is Qatari and rest all foreigners. Qatar promises 100 job guarantees to all its citizens- a rare occurrence anywhere in the world. Qatar is said to be the richest nation, GDP per capita being 75,117$ recorded in 2015. Flambuoncy and aristocracy have been reflected in the infrastructure of the city. We were taken around the US embassy zone where there was a no photography policy. I desired to have a view of the Al Jazeera HQ, (my favorite news channel next to BBC) but time constraint never allowed me to do so.

Museum of Islamic Art and culture

Our next halt was around the museum of Islamic art. Situated 7 kms away from cornice on the water front this building is considered as an architectural gem. The first view of the building resembled a burqa clad woman with only the eyes exposed to the world.  The entry to this museum is absolutely free. There is an option of a guided tour or you might opt for an audio guide and go all of your own. Ts a collection of masterpieces of Islamic art including- metalwork, ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, 
glass and even textiles. These are collected from three continents dates back from 7th to 19th century. It’s a pleasure to watch the beautiful collection. On entrance the visitors were asked to be dressed modestly. Only full dress allowed for both men and women. No short length skirt or dress for ladies, skimpy or body hugging dressed allowed for ladies. For men no shorts or half sleeve T shirts could be allowed. They reserve all rights to deny permission to the museum in case they feel a person is not modestly dressed.

Katara centre- Doha

Next point of attraction was the Katara centre of art. It’s a huge structure spread over some hectares of land that proudly preserves the culture of Qatar. We were taken a tour of the amphitheatre, drama theatre, Golden masjid, Halls and galleries, media centre, Masjid of Katara and the Katara gardens.  It’s undoubtedly an alluring place to explore and to hang around.

Amphitheatre at Katara Art centre, Doha

We were taken around the city in special tourist buses organized by Qatar airlines. The commercial buildings were worth seeing. The architecture was truly splendid and all shapes of buildings reigned- zigzag, spindle shaped, slanted and boat shaped. Looks like the country invited and hired the best of brains in architectural excellence and dumbfounded the world with its ‘man made’ treasured assets.

Zigzag towers- Doha

Our last halt was the’ Souq waqif’a market place in the heart of the city with Arabian influence. This place had some remains of the medieval type buildings. It’s said those centuries before it used to be the ‘souq’ or market place for the Bedouins to sell their products. 
Souq waqif

Perfume store at Souq Waqif, Doha

It was almost at the verge of getting demolished when the Qatar Government in 2004 started remodeling this heritage site and made it a place of tourist attraction. There are various places to dine and shops which displayed antiques. We were told that this place is the mist happening in the city at evening hours when flavors of kebabs smoke in the air. Music, dance and food- it is the ultimate of Arabian euphoria. We shopped some souvenirs costing around (3-5) $; I make it a point that I should carry at least some memoirs of a place which I once visited.  We didn’t have time and space else I would have never missed a kebab meal and carry some exclusive handworks made from wood and shisha. Gold was being available in those shops making a much desired destination for goldaholics.

A perfect 3 hours tour was nearing its completion. We boarded the bus and were dropped at the airport. After regular security check we were waiting for our flights to take towards our final destination. My kids were tired yet excited and discussing the new places they visited. I thank the airlines from the bottom of my heart; myself being a frequent traveler in this country was truly privileged to visit this amazing city, observe the culture closely and cherish the amazing moments spent in the awesome city.  I promised to myself that next time I visit Doha I will never miss the sumptuous Arabian meal at souq waqif.

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