THERE’S A TIME TO PARK OFF IN QATAR

Cape Argus - - METRO - RIDWAAN BAWA Twit­ter: @rid­waan­bawa

THE rains seem to be on a break, the hu­mid­ity has dropped, and the weather has cooled. In Qatar, this means it’s time to hit the parks.

But be­fore Shi­haam and I can bun­dle Aqeel, Saabi­rah and Yaqeen into the car, we have to de­cide ex­actly which park we’re go­ing to. Qatar may be in the mid­dle of the desert, but its land­scape is dot­ted with beau­ti­ful, green parks. And each has its own unique at­trac­tions.

The aptly named Ho­tel Park, for in­stance, is sit­u­ated in the shadow of the iconic Sher­a­ton Ho­tel and al­lows fam­i­lies to en­joy a taste of green spa­ces in and amidst the hus­tle and bus­tle of the city’s West Bay busi­ness district – 34 500m² of green space, to be ex­act, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial park web­site.

With its stun­ning lo­ca­tion on the Cor­niche, Qatar’s ver­sion of the Sea Point prom­e­nade that over­looks the Ara­bian Gulf, the park is also a pop­u­lar choice for the many fes­ti­vals that take place in Doha.

Al­ready this year, it has hosted a Span­ish-themed La Liga Fes­ti­val for foot­ball en­thu­si­asts. Still to come is a Bol­ly­wood Fes­ti­val and, wait for it, a Choco­late, Tea and Cof­fee fes­ti­val. Some­thing for ev­ery­one, it seems.

Vis­i­tors to the Cor­niche re­ally are spoilt for choice when it comes to parks. Also in the area is the Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art Park, or MIA Park, as its known to lo­cals. Found, as the name would sug­gest, near the mu­seum, its set­ting is a ma­jor part of its at­trac­tion, with the stun­ningly de­signed mu­seum on one side and the calm blue sea on the other. There is the added ad­van­tage of be­ing able to sneak in some cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion for the kids when they think all they’re get­ting is some fun at a park. Ha!

For those not keen on bat­tling city cen­tre traf­fic to reach the Cor­niche, there are a num­ber of other parks for res­i­dents to en­joy through­out Doha and other cities in the com­pact Gulf state that is Qatar.

In the end, though, prac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions dic­tate that we set­tle for a visit to Aspire Park – it’s the clos­est to our home in Al Waab. That’s not to say we’re short­chang­ing the kids.

Aspire is Doha’s big­gest park, with the bonus of be­ing flanked by two shop­ping malls – in case you pre­fer to let the kids run free out­doors while you put your step counter to work in a slightly dif­fer­ent way.

We pull into the park­ing area, which is al­ready packed, un­load bikes, balls, pic­nic bas­ket and kids, and home in on a spot near the play­ground.

The kids race ahead while Shi­haam and I stroll be­hind them. For all the chal­lenges posed by liv­ing in a for­eign land, life in Qatar can still be a walk in the park.

Bawa, a for­mer news­pa­per ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor and mag­a­zine ed­i­tor, is writ­ing a weekly col­umn about the life and ex­pe­ri­ences of a proud South African liv­ing as an ex­pat in Qatar. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @rid­waan­bawa

With its stun­ning lo­ca­tion on the Cor­niche, Qatar’s ver­sion of the Sea Point prom­e­nade that over­looks the Ara­bian Gulf, the park is also a pop­u­lar choice for the many fes­ti­vals that take place in Doha

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