Home TTJ Spotlight Features Qatar: Small in boundaries, big in discoveries

Qatar: Small in boundaries, big in discoveries

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The countdown has now begun to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. This will be the first time the world’s biggest football tournament is being hosted in the Middle East. Qatar Tourism is calling on holidaymakers, and fans attending the FIFA World Cup Qatar to plan day trips out of Doha and discover Qatar beyond the capital. For those who intend to stay more, there is much more to explore in Qatar and there is something for every type of traveller and budget.

Along with plans for the football matches, visitors can also plan outings out of Doha for amazing adventures in mesmerising desert dunes, UNESCO heritage sites, ancient rock carvings, water parks, golden beaches, eco farms, and lush green mangrove forests and so much more. From Doha’s central West Bay area these trips hardly take 25 minutes to 90 minutes to reach these easily accessible tourist attractions.

Top day trips out of Doha

Banana Island Resort

Banana Island

The glistening crescent-shaped Banana Island is accessible by boat only. A 25-minute journey from Al Shyoukh Terminal in downtown Doha, the island beach offers an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Guests can travel for the day or stay overnight at Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, featuring a lagoon pool, spa, golf court, cinema and several restaurants.

Heenat Salma Farm

Fans of organic, natural produce should visit Heenat Salma Farm for an eco-conscious experience. A working agricultural farm that grows more than 30 different crops, fruits and vegetables, and produces dairy, eggs, honey and meat, Heenat Salma is a centre for hospitality, education and wellbeing. Visitors can stay overnight in traditional tents positioned around a central fire, which instils a sense of community.

Purple Island

Bin Ghannam Island, popularly known as Purple Island, is a hidden gem famous for its abundance of mangroves. The island’s association with purple comes from an ancient Kassite-controlled dye industry, which started more than two thousand years ago when the colour was coveted by Roman royalty for their clothing. Sunset is an opportune time to visit Purple Island: go kayaking, or hike around the island to scout the perfect sunset spot for photos.

Baladna Park

Baladna Park

A green refuge on the outskirts of Doha, Baladna Park is a fun-filled family day out with a children’s adventure land, bumper boats, a petting zoo and a reptile cave. The park is run by Baladna Farm, a 100 per cent Qatari business that is one of the largest cattle farms in the region, and it provides fresh milk and dairy products to Qatar’s restaurants and residents. The farm is also open to members of the public, who can discover the milking process in purpose-built farms that protect animals from harsh changes in climate.

Dhal Al Misfir Cave

One of the country’s most exciting natural sites, the 40-metre-deep Dahl Al Misfir is considered the largest accessible cave in Qatar. Estimated to have been formed around 300,000-500,000 years ago, the cave emits an otherworldly moon-like glow due to gypsum despots in the centre of the peninsula. These same minerals give rise to ‘desert roses’ – clusters of crystals that inspired Jean Nouvel in his iconic design of the National Museum of Qatar.

Al Jassasiya Rock Carvings

Nobody quite knows when these nearly 900 carvings, known as ‘petroglyphs’, were created. Discovered in 1957, the distinct carvings feature shapes including fish, ostriches, dhow boats and cup marks, across a 700-metre area. Some suggest the art dates back more than 2,000 years, others put the date at just a few centuries ago. Either way, the carvings offer a tantalising glimpse into an ancient past and are Qatar’s most exciting enigma.

Al Zubarah Fort

Al Zubarah Fort

Qatar’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Al Zubarah Fort is a pristine example of a traditional Arabic fortress. The walls overlook the ruins of a once-bustling pearling town that saw fierce tribal battles as powerful empires fought for regional dominance. Visitors who head up to the site will find a museum with artefacts from this historical era, including cannonballs, coins and the weights used by pearl divers who used to plunge down 14 metres to search among thousands of oysters before finding that one rare gem. On the way to Al Zubarah are the remains of the ghost town of Al Jumail, which offers another fascinating glimpse into Qatar’s humble past.

Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas

Hilton Salwa Beach Resort

On Qatar’s southwestern tip is one of the country’s best-kept secrets. A nirvana for lovers of sun, sea and sand, Hilton Salwa Beach Resort has 3.5 km of soft white beaches and landscaped gardens. Within the grounds is one of the largest theme parks in the Middle East, Desert Falls. The park features 18 attractions, with 56 rides and slides, from the Sea Caves Water Park to the Desert Street Circuit GoKarting.

East-West / West-East

East-West/West-East by Richard Serra

Richard Serra’s breath-taking public art installation in the Qatari desert comprises four 14-metre-high steel plates spread out over a kilometre. Pictures of the striking display routinely set Instagram accounts alight, as the pillars stand in stark contrast to the soft brown hues of the surrounding desert. Also in the area is the Umbrella Rock Mountain, Zekreet Fort and the abandoned film set known as Film City, all worth a quick look.

Inland Sea

Inland sea
Zekreet Rock

There are rare few places in the world where desert dunes greet the shores of the sea. The spectacular ‘Inland Sea’. or Khor Al Adaid, in the south of Qatar is one, and those with an afternoon to spare should seriously consider visiting, accessible only by 4×4 vehicles. Visitors should coincide their excursion with the sunset or sunrise for the best photos, and keep an eye out for turtles, the Arabian oryx and flamingos, before taking a dip in the warm sea waters.

Besides being the world’s safest country, ancient in origin with a fascinating heritage, when travellers visit Qatar, they find the best of the Middle East all in one place, with a variety of exciting adventures and activities they never knew were here.

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