What can guests expect during a cruise call in Qatar?

Rashed Al Qurese, chief marketing and promotion officer for Visit Qatar explains why the country is at must-see on cruise itineraries in the Arabian Gulf and Middle East

What can guests expect during a cruise call in Qatar?
Cruise guests can sail on traditional Dhow boats to see Doha's skyline (Image: Visit Qatar)

Located in the Middle East along the serene waters of the Arabian Gulf, Qatar is fast making its mark as a must-see on cruise itineraries. Offering year-round sunshine, majestic desert landscapes and futuristic cityscapes, the state of Qatar is the ideal destination for a short cruise call. Doha Port is located at the heart of the city and boasts swift disembarkation, immigration and customs clearance procedures, with cruise visitors of all nationalities able to enter the country free on a new 96-hour transit visa. This means visitors spend less time queuing and more time exploring.

Visitors to Doha can take in the vibrant city’s cultural sites, sample authentic Arabian cuisine, relax at its beachfront luxury or indulge in retail therapy at one of the many malls – there is something to suit every taste.

Qatar is home to striking architecture, its skyline filled with modernist structures which take inspiration from traditional motifs. Guests can immerse themselves in Qatar’s rich cultural heritage at the new National Museum of Qatar, which was designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel and is spread over 1.5 kilometres in the heart of the city. Built with a structure of interlocking discs inspired by the desert rose, the museum charts the country’s history through the centuries, evoking Qatari life and celebrating the country’s connection to the desert and sea. The Museum of Islamic Art is another architectural wonder. Designed by celebrated American-Chinese architect IM Pei, this museum features some of the finest art and artefacts from across the Islamic world, spanning 14 centuries.

To gain an understanding of life as it is lived today, cruise visitors can make their way to Souq Waqif, designed like a traditional market. Guests can wander through its bustling lanes, browse the many treasures for sale and sample traditional foods at the cafés and food stalls throughout the market. The Falcon Souq and Gold Souq are also within walking distance.

Set on a waterfront promenade, Katara Cultural Village is a beacon of art and cultural exchange. It houses theatres, art galleries and workshops, an elaborately tiled golden mosque and an amphitheatre which hosts year-round concerts, shows and exhibitions.

The Qatari experience is incomplete without some traditional hospitality and an Arabic coffee. There are restaurants for every budget, from kiosks and cafés to internationally renowned fine dining options. Meanwhile, a ride in a traditional Dhow boat affords panoramic views of Doha’s skyline and a stroll along the waterfront Corniche promenade shows the many different sides of the city.

The compact city allows visitors to capture futuristic skylines and traditional architecture in one snapshot. As the Doha Port continues its development and prepares to host floating hotels during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Qatar experience is set to become even more convenient. There are even plans underway for individuals to be able to join or depart a cruise from Doha itself.

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
Monday, July 8, 2019