Qatar is a tiny peninsular Arab nation in the Arabian Gulf bordering Saudi Arabia. Most of the country resides in the capital city of Doha. The economy is nearly 75% based on petrol and natural gas, making this small country the world’s richest nation (GDP per capita). Over two million call Qatar home, yet only 20% of the population are Qatari’s, with a huge population of foreign workers. Qatar has been selected to host the 2022 World Cup, the first in the Arab world. This has resulted in construction projects throughout Doha. New Doha, known for exotic skyscrapers that rival Dubai, is an extremely modern city built entirely on reclaimed land in 2000. Doha is a regional hub and a common layover with Qatar Airlines. There is an excellent free city tour available for those passing through.
Important Things to Know When Visiting Doha
Visa to Qatar
Visa on arrival is available for countries in the E.U., the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and South Korea. All other countries are required to get a visa before arrival. See more on visa information here.
Best Time to Visit Doha
Visiting Qatar is best in the winter months between November and February. Days can still get hot with cool evenings, but the weather is very manageable. Temperatures in the summer average over 100° Fahrenheit (+40°C), making visits during this time very unpleasant.
The Qatari Riyal is the national currency in Qatar. It is pegged to the USD at $1 = 3.64 QR. ATM’s are widely available at the airport and around Doha.
Free Doha City Tour
Flying with Qatar Airlines and have a long layover in Doha? Take their free city tour! The tour last just under 3 hours and stops at the four below locations. There is a free one-day visa and the tour is first come, first serve. Four tours each day leave at 8 am, 11 am, 4 pm and 8 pm. Check-in starts at 6 am for the first three tours, and 4 pm for the 8 pm tour. The check-in location is at the Doha City Tour desk in Concourse B across from Mont Blanc. The city tour is on a 33 passenger bus and has short stops for a quick visit to Doha.
Museum of Islāmic Art
The first stop is next to the Museum of Islāmic Art. This building is an iconic building on the Doha corniche designed by famous architect I. M. Pei. While there is not enough time to visit the museum, there is a photo opportunity of the building as well as a panoramic view of New Doha. This stop is for five minutes.
Katara Cultural Village
Opened in 2010, most cultural attractions for the city such as open-air concerts, theatre, opera, and other event occur in Katara. While this part of the city is becoming more popular, it is still mostly under construction until 2018. This stop is for 20 minutes.
The Pearl of Doha is a mini-Dubai like pearl shaped island with high-end shops, restaurants, and a marina. This is also the first place in Qatar that allows foreigners to own property. This stop is for 15 minutes.
Souq Waqif, the largest in Qatar, is a traditional market that is predominately a tourist destination. While it is not used by Qatari’s today, there remains an authentic feel and look to this market this is over 100 years old. This stop is for 45 minutes.
A small bottle of water is given to each person
Stops include an opportunity for a restroom breaks
Timelines are strict to get everyone back to the airport
English-speaking guides led the tour and offer historical context as well as information while riding on the bus between stops
Tip: If you’ve got more time check out Wandermust Family’s article on Most Beautiful Places in Qatar.
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Qatar: Doha City Tour
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