World Travels: Qatar
After we leave the United Arab Emirates we will be flying to Qatar (pronounced Ka-tar) because even though Abu Dhabi is close to Qatar we will not be driving there. You see the only road from Abu Dhabi to Qatar goes right through Saudi Arabia and that’s not really something one should do especially with my wife sitting beside me.
Qatar is located on the northeasterly coast of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East. It’s only neighbor is Saudi Arabia and the rest of it is surrounded by the Persian Gulf which separates it from the island state of Bahrain (our next stop). It is also known for its oil refineries.
What most people don’t know, I certainly didn’t until I arrived here, is that Qatar is the richest country in the world. Once you arrive here you can immediately realize that this is true.
Going through immigration at the airport proved to be like a scene out of a James Bond movie with all the top notch technology that they utilize. Where many countries praise themselves for using face recognition software at their security gates here in Qatar they do a full iris scan with the newest technology available. It’s incredible!
The capital of Qatar is Doha, the population is just over 800,000 people and the official language is Arabic here. Qatar could possibly be one of the least known countries in the world but it is starting to come into its own as a regional financial capital and a rival to Dubai for it’s oil-rich glitz and glamor. It has also made headlines recently as a liberal Arab state and is the only Gulf country to maintain relations with Israel.
When we arrived we went immediately to our hotel called the Movenpick Tower and Suites in Doha. You can check it out for yourself by clicking hereand below is a picture of the front of the hotel as well.
One of the great place to check out here in Doho is the PEARL which is a man-made island with high rises, shops, cultural and social activities. They have the best shops and restaurants to be found here and it’s really incredible! The whole island was build artificially out in the water near Doha City Center.
Although some high rises are still under construction most of it is already open. Not only is it huge but it’s just so amazing what man and technology can do. Here’s a quick little two minute video that shows you what had to be done to make this island. It’s incredible.
Here’s a great advertisement for the Pearl that gives you a flavor of what it’s all about:
Here’s a great segment done by 60 minutes on Qatar so you get a better idea of what it’s like here: Click here to watch 60 minutes segment!
Even though Qatar has sand dunes and desert excursions like all the other countries in this area it is a very contemporary country. You can witness this in its capital city of Doha with its futuristic architecture and its compulsion to be modern.
So what can you see in Qatar? Well, of course, there’s sand dunes and camel racing but there’s also the beautiful modern architecture of Doha, Palm Tree Island which is Doha’s answer to Dubai’s feats of modern engineering in the Gulf Waters, you can go to the Sheraton Doha Resort to see great panoramic views of the Doha skyline, you can go to Al-Wakrah to view the beautiful mosques as well as enjoy the beaches and watch flamingos wade in the shallow waters, or you could go to Jebel Jassassiyeh to see the rock carvings that date back thousands of years.
Other things to do in Qatar are things like eating great food in the restaurants of Al-Bandar in Doha, shopping until you drop at the City Center in Doha, or birdwatch in the mangroves and gardens of Al-Khor.
If you want to know more about Qatar you can watch a film called ‘Qatar: A Quest for Excellence’ as well and if you want to experience some gastronomic specialties of this Arab nation you can try labneh which is a type of yogurt cheese made from goats milk or try their strong, black coffee or fruit juices.
They are known for their T.V. station, Al-Jazeera; their old wind-towers right next to sleek modern architecture as well as their really intense summer heat. Another interesting fact is that before the 19th century Qatar was never shown on any maps. It’s known for being unknown really.
Our next stop is Bahrain just across the water from here. Come back next week to see what that destination is all about!