Football World Cup 2022 will be the biggest outing for Qatar. But even before the world descends here to catch the soccer action, I had the unique opportunity to visit Doha, an Arabian splendour with a touch of Bedouin tradition
10/1/2014 12:55:23 PM
|written By : Steve Andre|
With visions of sand dunes, dhows, medieval castles and iconic old mosques in mind, I boarded my Qatar Airways flight leaving Singapore for Doha. When people think of the Arabian Gulf, glitzy Dubai and Abu Dhabi tend to take center stage due to their worldwide acclaim in business, culture and tourism and spearheading these industries across the Middle East. Unlike the Emirates, Qatar offers low-key tourist options, desert escapades and castle ruins, giving you the true soul of Arabia. I wanted to escape the grind of a city and experience a less commercial tourist destination. As the pink lights on the cabin of my flight flickered and the music started playing accompanying the take-off, my Arabian adventure had officially begun.
Qatar has emerged from the backdrop of the Gulf as a rivaled competitor in the region. With a world class airline, Qatar Airways, the newly opened Hamad International Airport in Doha, and the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the eyes and attention of the whole world is on the tiny, yet formidable State of Qatar.
With a less commercial tourist industry compared to the Emirates, Doha offers a different perspective of the Arabian Gulf to a visitor. This was the main reason for my visit and I was intrigued about what the capital had to offer. Here was a state, wedged between regional powerhouses, Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, but with the world’s largest natural gas reserves, the title of being the richest country in the world per capita and the base for the Al Jazeera Media Network and Doha Debates. Not to be fooled by its size, Qatar is a force to be reckoned with and I needed to feel the energy that ran through the veins of this country, how it was able to become a regional and global power and what made Qataris tick. With the World Cup on the county’s agenda, the hustle and bustle of the city is being geared for the eventual event in 2022. Concrete, palm trees, flowers and almost every essential commodity is being imported, and with the changing skyline adding to the buzz and excitement of a nation working together (despite the recent controversies and attention brought about in the media) to fulfill the dream of the whole Middle East, I had to be part of this monumental process and that was what led me to Doha.