A hidden gem of the Middle East, you might not know everything there is to know about this magical destination!
- 1. Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to earn the rights to host the FIFA World Cup
- 2. It’s one of the most peaceful countries in Middle East and North Africa
- 3. It has abundant wildlife and is a hotspot for camping, fishing and birdwatching
- 4. Falconry is one of Qatar’s most popular national pastimes
- 5. The Pearl-Qatar is an island shaped like a string of pearls
- 6. You can go dune bashing for a whale of a time in the desert
- 7. Cardamom-flavoured kahwa is a must-try Qatari coffee
Bursting with undiscovered attractions and activities, Qatar is undoubtedly the hidden gem of the Middle East! Not only is its capital, Doha, a gorgeous city, but despite its rapid modernisation and economic advancement, it has retained vestiges of its rich history and culture in various aspects of life from sports to food.
Just to give you an introduction to this marvellous country, here are seven things you probably never knew about Qatar!
1. Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to earn the rights to host the FIFA World Cup
That’s right! In 2022, the world’s most watched sports tournament will go to the Middle East for the very first time when it is hosted in Qatar. To cater to the needs of this mega football tournament, Qatar will be building 7 new eco-friendly stadiums, set to host up to 80,000 people. You’ll definitely want to be there as a spectator for a once-in-a-lifetime experience! FIFA has also announced that the World Cup will kick off on 21 November 2022 and the final match will be held on 18 December 2022, which is the same day as Qatar’s National Day. This is not the only sporting first for the country: Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to earn the rights to host the World Championships in Athletics (2019) and the FINA World Swimming Championships (2023) too!
2. It’s one of the most peaceful countries in Middle East and North Africa
Qatar is one of the most peaceful countries in MENA (Middle East and North Africa), making it a great and safe holiday destination. Just remember to respect the culture and adhere to the rules of etiquette; avoid revealing attire like shorts, short skirts and outfits that bare your shoulders!
3. It has abundant wildlife and is a hotspot for camping, fishing and birdwatching
Qatar’s Bin Ghannam Island is also known as Purple Island due to the abundance of small snails which shells produce a purple dye when crushed. Its marshy grounds are full of beautiful flora and fauna and the lush mangrove forest is thriving with life, including crabs, fish and wild birds – and that includes flamingoes in the winter months! It’s perfect for nature lovers.
4. Falconry is one of Qatar’s most popular national pastimes
In Qatar, the falcon is seen as a symbol of courage, freedom and determination, and owning a falcon is a prestigious status symbol. Falconry involves using a trained bird of prey to hunt wild animals and has been part of Qatari tradition for centuries. In fact, Qatar Airways even allows falcons on its flights, provided the bird has a valid passport! Visit the Falcon Souq in Doha to see different species of falcon, pet them, take pictures with them and learn all about this unique part of Qatar’s culture and heritage.
5. The Pearl-Qatar is an island shaped like a string of pearls
Qatar’s iconic man-made island, The Pearl-Qatar, was built on an old diving and pearling site that gave it its name! It spans nearly four million square metres and features Mediterranean-style yacht-lined marinas, waterfront residences and villas, luxury hotels as well as the best luxury fashion and lifestyle shopping brands. Waterfront promenades offer dazzling al fresco dining experiences too!
6. You can go dune bashing for a whale of a time in the desert
Warning: this activity is not for the faint-hearted! Yes, dune bashing is exactly what it sounds like: trained drivers careen around the golden sand dunes of the Qatari desert, making extraordinary manoeuvres in a 4×4 vehicle… with you in the back seat of course! Don’t worry, the drivers know what they are doing and the cars are specially reinforced for safety purposes.
The best way to go dune bashing would be to visit Khor Al Adaid, also known as the ‘Inland Sea’, a seawater basin in the southeastern corner of Qatar that is inaccessible by normal roads. A UNESCO recognised natural reserve, it has its own unique marine ecosystem and is home to a wide variety of wildlife. A desert safari tour like this one usually includes other activities such as a desert barbecue, sandboarding and sand volleyball.
7. Cardamom-flavoured kahwa is a must-try Qatari coffee
In Qatar, even its drinks are a symbolic expression of the country’s hospitality. Vastly different from any other coffee in the world, kahwa coffee is flavoured with cardamom and served in tiny, handleless cups. The server will pour your drink from the kahwa pot until you signal that you are done by shaking the cup gently from side to side.
Qatar is truly an intriguing place, full of splendour yet also housing plenty of hidden treasures and simple pleasures. All that’s left to do is for you to pack your bags and discover this world-class destination for yourself. Safe travels!
To get yourself started on your adventure to Qatar, book a tour package with:
Chan Brothers Pte Ltd (Singapore) : +65 6438 8880
Corporate Information Travel Sdn Bhd (Malaysia) : +603 2091 9988
For more information, check out Qatar National Tourism Council’s official website or their Facebook page. Start planning your Qatar escapade now!
Brought to you by Qatar National Tourism Council.