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High d


ubai may well have a competitor as the perfect sun-drenched stopover destination on long-haul flights out of the UK. Qatar, set on the other side of the Arabian Gulf,


boasts 350 miles of uninterrupted coastline, gorgeous unspoilt beaches and the same year-round desert climate – and with dozens of new hotels opening, it should definitely be on your radar. Capital Doha is home to the luxurious Hamad International airport – expect gold-plated coffee kiosks – which opened in 2014 and is served by airlines including Qatar Airways, British Airways and Cathay Pacific. But it’s not just about ease of access. The peninsular state of Qatar is rich in Islamic cultural heritage and natural beauty, and the presence of four and five-star hotel brands is also helping to raise Qatar’s profile as a luxury destination. Major infrastructure projects are well under way to


prepare for the 2022 World Cup. The oil-rich country is drawing on its reserves of wealth to build nine stadiums and renovate three existing ones, along with the ambitious £310 million Amphibious 100 Resort, set to accommodate wealthy football fans during the tournament. It will comprise four giant hotels in the shape of superyachts, plus underwater rooms and an interactive marine-life museum. Yet even before the football kicks off, there are plenty of highlights to fill a 24 or 48-hour stopover in Doha. Here are just a few of our suggestions.


travelweekly.co.uk


DESTINATIONS QATAR | MIDDLE EAST


flyers


Qatar is rapidly emerging as an ideal stopover spot – but how much can clients squeeze into a flying visit? Rachel Roberts find out


MUSEUM OF ISMIC ART The museum, perched on the end of Doha’s famous Corniche – a four-mile palm-fringed promenade hugging Doha Bay – is a work of art in itself. Reminiscent of a modern cubist-style mosque, the building was designed by renowned Chinese-American architect IM Pei and opened in 2008. The collection spans 14 centuries of the Islamic world’s finest art and artefacts, including prized examples of delicate Arabic calligraphy, Persian war masks, rare textiles owned by royals, and colourful ceramics produced during the Ottoman Empire.


DHOW CRUISE A night-time cruise on a traditional dhow boat, its billowing lateen sails whisking you out into the bay, is a memorable way to see Doha’s impressive West Bay skyline. The densely packed arc of modern-day skyscrapers – including the 300m-high Aspire Tower and Qatar World Trade Centre, with its futuristic protruding UFO-shaped disc – is illuminated in an array of vivid colours when darkness falls. We tucked in to a delicious Arabian feast prepared on board as musicians playing Qatari sea songs on traditional instruments provided an atmospheric soundtrack to the evening.


SOUQ WAQIF A stone’s throw from the Corniche, this souk (which translates as ‘standing market’) is where the Bedouin people would have traded livestock and spices a


 27 JUNE 2019 49


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