THERE’S A TIME TO PARK OFF IN QATAR
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