PER­SIAN PEARL

A week­end in Doha

Business Traveller (India) - - CONTENTS -

Doha is sur­pris­ingly busy at 6am. Leav­ing Ha­mad In­ter­na­tional Air­port at sun­rise, it’s hard to say it’s so early. Traffc is al­ready at its peak and the city is bustling. Driv­ing past a stun­ning bay area lined with man­i­cured plants and per­fect prom­e­nades, I see peo­ple — mostly ex­pa­tri­ate — jog­ging along­side the Per­sian Gulf. On the other side is a mag­nif­i­cent cityscape, one that ap­peared when I ran a Google search on Doha be­fore I ar­rived here. Build­ings are noth­ing short of ar­chi­tec­tural mas­ter­pieces; pic­ture un­con­ven­tion­ally shaped sky­scrapers com­pet­ing with each other.

Soon we have ar­rived amidst the build­ings we had ad­mired from the op­po­site side, and the driver in­forms us that we have reached West Bay. The As­pire Tower known as The Torch Doha is one of the most iconic build­ings in this area. This cylin­dri­cal build­ing is the tallest sky­scraper of the city. Also known as Burj Doha, the Doha Tower is another sym­bolic high-rise of West Bay. It is ev­i­dent that we are in the heart of busi­ness and com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties of Qatar’s cap­i­tal.

After a brief rest, we head out to our first meet­ing. Traffc has al­ready re­duced and the city seems calmer now. With ev­ery meet­ing and in­ter­ac­tion, we are slowly be­gin­ning to un­der­stand the pace of this fast de­vel­op­ing city. Life is rel­a­tively un­hur­ried here and work­ing hours end rather early. Out­skirts of Doha boast of beau­ti­ful azure beaches such as Al Ghariya and Khol al Adaid that are ideal for trav­ellers spend­ing more than just a cou­ple of days here. Since we were in Doha for a busi­ness trip and had some time on hand, our ho­tel concierge sug­gested places to visit to ac­com­mo­date our sched­ule.

Souq Waqif

In­ter­est­ingly a souq or an Ara­bic mar­ket­place has al­ways ex­isted on this spot. After be­ing burned down in 2003, au­thor­i­ties un­der­took a large-scale re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme to bring back the beauty of this long-stand­ing bazaar. Shop for lo­cal cu­rios of the re­gion in­clud­ing spices, em­broi­dered Qatari out­fits, sea­sonal del­i­ca­cies and per­fumes. Ven­ture into Fal­con Souq where trained birds and equip­ment re­lated to the sport of fal­conry are still re­tailed. But don’t be fooled, Souq Waqif is a mes­meris­ing blend of old and new. Con­sid­ered as the so­cial caul­dron of Doha, this area bus­tles with an ar­ray of in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal restau­rants, cafes and shee­sha lounges. I en­joyed a quick work­ing lunch here at a Le­banese restau­rant called Zaatar W Zeit be­fore grab­bing a Turk­ish ice cream from a food stall nearby. souq-waqif-doha.com

Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art

Sit­u­ated on its own pur­pose-built is­land is this mag­nif­i­cent mu­seum that prides it­self on one of the largest col­lec­tions of Is­lamic art in the world. Con­structed like a geo­met­ric ma­trix, the mu­seum over­looks the south end of Doha Bay. Trav­ellers in­ter­ested in his­tory will be en­chanted by in­tri­cate arte­facts, em­bel­lished tex­tiles and price­less gems pre­served here. The mas­ter­pieces have been sourced from both sec­u­lar and re­li­gious sects of the world, right from trea­sure houses of roy­alty to pri­vate homes of or­di­nary in­di­vid­u­als. Be­hind each cu­rio is an in­ter­est­ing story that will cap­ti­vate you by the beauty of art and an­tiq­uity. The mu­seum also houses over 800 manuscripts of the Qu­ran, sci­ence, lit­er­a­ture and re­li­gious sub­jects safe­guarded since the sev­enth cen­tury. Open Sun­day, Mon­day and Wed­nes­day 10:30am-5:30pm, Thurs­day and Satur­day 12pm-8pm, Fri­day 2pm8pm; mia.org.qa

The Pearl

Span­ning nearly four mil­lion sqm is Doha’s ar­ti­fi­cial is­land — The Pearl. Built on a pre­vi­ous pearl div­ing site, this isle is home to 12,000 res­i­dents and is the first land in Qatar to be avail­able for free­hold own­er­ship by for­eign na­tion­als. While it is partly res­i­den­tial, it is buzzing with restau­rants and re­tail stores mak­ing it an in­ter­est­ing venue for a re­lax­ing evening over­look­ing some clas­sic bay views. Eater­ies rang­ing from South Amer­i­can, French, Le­banese, Ital­ian and other global cuisines line the area. For some in­dul­gence, make a trip to Choco­late Bar or en­joy au­then­tic Turk­ish ke­babs at A’la Turk­ish. For Ori­en­tal cui­sine visit Balme­san or en­joy the sump­tu­ous piri piri chicken at Nan­dos. If shop­ping is on your agenda, its list of in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal fash­ion bou­tiques will not dis­ap­point. the­p­earlqatar.com

Katara Cul­tural Vil­lage

Katara Cul­tural Vil­lage was con­ceived out of a long-stand­ing vi­sion to pro­mote Qatar as the hub for art and cul­ture in the Mid­dle East. Named after the pre­vi­ous ti­tle of Qatar, it opened six years ago dur­ing Doha Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val (DTFF . It is also home to many Qatari cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Qatar Fine Arts So­ci­ety, Qatar Pho­to­graphic So­ci­ety, Theatre So­ci­ety and Qatar Mu­sic Academy. The cul­tural vil­lage houses an open am­phithe­atre, an opera house, a multi-pur­pose cin­ema and a mul­ti­pur­pose con­fer­ence hall where it hosts pro­grammes across theatre, lit­er­a­ture, mu­sic and vis­ual art. A mu­seum ex­hibit­ing the coun­try’s mar­itime her­itage also opened here in Novem­ber 2015. Un­til the end of this month, at Beach 15 you can en­joy Qatar’s mu­si­cal her­itage through a folk sing­ing pro­gramme for free. katara.net

Doha Golf Club

If you fancy a round of golf post meet­ings in the Qatari cap­i­tal, you’re in luck. Doha boasts of one of the first grass golf cour­ses ever built in the Mid­dle East. Book a “tee time” at the Doha Golf Club to spend qual­ity hours show­ing off some down­swings at this 18-hole golf course. It’s a serene en­vi­ron­ment with eight ar­ti­fi­cial lakes on a lush green land­scape and an Ara­bic-style club­house to rest after a dy­namic game. An ideal am­bi­ence for in­for­mal busi­ness meets is the al fresco area of the club­house. Re­lax with a drink or sa­ti­ate that built-up ap­petite — pick from break­fast, af­ter­noon tea or even In­dian cui­sine. Lo­cated within Doha Golf Club is also the Qatar Golf Academy that pro­vides in­struc­tional pro­grammes for ev­ery level of golfer. For more in­for­ma­tion, log on to do­hagolf­club.com

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.