The upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar (pronounced KUT-ter or KAH-ter), kicking off from November 20, 2022 until December 18, 2022. This marks the first time that the Middle East will host the most important football tournament in the world, and the second time in Asia after the 2002 edition.
Some More Trivia! Because of Qatar's extreme desert heat conditions, this is also the first edition of the marquee tournament not to be held during the usual summer months of May to July, making it the first-ever Winter World Cup. And because of its reduced timeframe of 29 days, it is also set to be the shortest World Cup ever.
With all the buzz around this most prestigious football tournament, it also brings about massive global attention towards the smallest nation ever to host the World Cup, Qatar.
In previous years, the small peninsula nation of Qatar has often welcomed tourists transiting in-between eastern and western countries and thus, was usually seen just as a popular stopover destination. But it's important to recognize Qatar as a rapidly emerging global power and also as a premier travel destination!
It may be a small country, but there are plenty of reasons to visit Qatar, including its beautiful beaches, stunning desert landscapes, rich culture, and friendly people. Qatar is also home to many luxury hotels and resorts, making it a popular destination for travelers seeking a luxurious and relaxing vacation.
Admittedly, most of the attractions we have listed below is concentrated within Doha, the world-class city and capital of Qatar with over 80% of the country's population residing there. But you can still take day trips and desert safaris outside the capital, for sure!
To immediately get a sense of Qatari history and culture, one should stop by the National Museum of Qatar. Marvel at the iconic white building designed by award-winning French architect Jean Nouvel, who was inspired by the native desert rose. An immersive and insightful look into the country's past, present and future awaits inside and is a great way to spend a few hours!
One should also visit the iconic architectural beauty, that is the Museum of Islamic Art. The museum houses one of the world's most comprehensive collections of Islamic art and heritage. Did I mention that the views of the Gulf and the spectacular modern skyline of Doha are stunning?
If you got an itch to shop around for souvenirs, the next bit should be perfect for you!
Located across the Museum of Islamic Art, Souq Waqif is a traditional Bedouin "standing market" that offers a unique shopping experience. Visitors can find a variety of items for sale, including traditional clothing, spices, and handicrafts. The souq is also a great place to sample local cuisine and experience Qatari culture.
The Falcon Souq is also a fun way to understand the favored Qatari pastime of falconry.
Being in Doha can feel very relaxing and luxurious. None quite captures this best than strolling down The Corniche, Doha's seven kilometer waterfront promenade along Doha Bay. You can get here by accessing an underground walkway from Souq Waqif.
Along The Corniche, you will find beautifully landscaped walking paths, sculptures and monuments like the Pearl Monument and Richard Serra's 7, and public gardens. And, of course, you will be able to immerse yourself with spectacular skyline views of Doha's business district!
Visiting the Aspire Zone, Doha's world class sports complex, is also a great way to lean into the luxury that the city can offer. Nearby attractions include Aspire Park, Doha's largest urban park (perfect for strolling and other park activities);
Villagio Mall (a great Italian-inspired mall where one can shop and dine);
and Aspire Tower (also known as the Torch and is the tallest building in the city!)
You can also go on a desert safari trips at Al Khor Udeid - sand boarding, camel riding, etc. , or take a sunset dhow cruise around the Qatar coastline.
ONE MORE THING: As Qatar is a conservative Muslim country, it is advisable to stay away and not to talk about taboo topics like sex, religion, or politics. It's important to observe their local culture and social etiquette, in order to avoid any misunderstanding or trouble with the law.
Here are also a few tips to note that may be useful:
- Avoid taking photographs of military personnel or property and other people, especially Arab women, without their consent. If in doubt, ask permission.
- Swearing and making rude gestures are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed and/or deported.
- Stand up to greet people, particularly elderly or high-ranking people.
- Use your right hand to accept drinks offered to you.
- The country is very strict towards the use and possession of illegal drugs. Penalties for this is ver severe.
- Alcohol is also very much available in licensed places and is strictly controlled; be conscious and cautious, when choosing to indulge in alcohol. Do not carry alcohol with you.
- As most of the country is Muslim, please also avoid offering locals any alcoholic drinks or food with pig meat.
With Qatar being a small country, it is more than possible to see all these in a short span of 3-5 days! Amazing museums, bustling markets and picturesque walks by the city and the bay - Qatar has so much to offer as a destination!
And with the excitement of the 2022 FIFA World Cup just around the corner, going to stadiums, cheering on your team and meeting people from all around the world will make traveling to this country a much more memorable experience! Best of luck!
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