Quizzing enthusiasts will know Qatar as the country with the highest per capita GDP in the world. A few more may know it as the host nation for the 2022 Football World Cup, but not all of us will be able to place the tiny Middle Eastern country on a map and its easy to see why. The country is smaller than Montenegro in size and has just over 300,000 citizens. Doha, the only sizable city in the country is generally overshadowed by the regional superstar metropolis Dubai as the go to destination for people looking to experience the desert, magical Arabian nights and to get a glimpse of the oil wealth that has completely transformed the region in a matter of a few decades.
However, for those who have been rather taken aback by the rather cold weather that has been persisting in Wien since December and for travelers who like to indulge in learning different cultures, I would definitely recommend a short stay in Qatar to experience the many delights that this small country has to offer. I would even recommend it over Dubai for people looking for a more quieter, less commercial (and cheaper) vacation. Students on a tight budget may choose cheap flights run by Pegasus or the many other budget airlines that fly there.
To being with, Doha really has one of the most picturesque airports I have been to. Right by the faultless gleaming aqua marine waterfront, a modern highway connects the Doha International Airport to the city. The water, sand, exquisitely maintained lawns and the beautifully designed infrastructure all come together to make it a really special welcome lounge for visitors.
Almost everywhere you go, you get to see the transformation that oil (largely natural gas actually, but lets not get pedantic) has had on the country. Most locals drive big, expensive 4x4s and you see some remarkable constructions wherever you look, but the city does continue to maintain its Eastern charm. Qataris generally dress up in their traditional costumes and you have pockets in the city, where you find old markets (souqs) and other remnants of the old ways of life here. Qatar also hosts some of the best museums highlighting Arab and Islamic Art. A number of scenic locations in Doha have the mesmerizing blue sea as a backdrop and feature architecture that incorporates modernity and tradition in such a seamless fashion that its hard to figure out where one ends and the other begins.
If you happen to know any locals, you must visit ‘Majlises’ that big families host regularly. Guests are welcome and everyone gets a warm reception and excellent snacks. Most Qataris are extremely soft spoken and have a easy going charm that you will come to appreciate almost immediately. Young locals are usually highly educated and have spent time in (often top) western universities, so you can have interesting, informative discussions with them. The country also attracts a lot of affluent expatriate talent, which means that you may also find people hailing from your nationality if you look around (expats comprise over 80% of the total population).
The best time to visit the country would be from October to March to escape the intense heat and humidity, but if you don’t mind some sun, then just go there in the early or late summer.
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