November 21st, 2013 – by: Jollyjetsetter
Emiri Diwan in central Doha (Doha; Qatar)
It seems realistic to judge that GDP per capita is the most accurate and indicative measure of wealth, and on that score, the Qataris top the world leader board, soaring high above its nearest competitors. This has translated into Qatar's financial showcase, which is the nation's capital city Doha, once a sleepy backwater, now dynamic and prominent enough to demand anyone's attention. The nation's enormous wealth is reflected in its standards, and the hotel of choice, Doha Downtown Hotel Apartments, has all the trappings which you might come to expect from a luxury city break, and then some. Doha's skyline is perhaps the city's most prominent feature, and the row of skyscrapers, best viewed from the area of the Corniche further south, is one of the Middle East's finest displays of modernity, which interestingly contrasts with some of the traditional Dhows moored in the harbour.
One section of Souq Waqif (Doha; Qatar)
In this immediate area, the Emiri building, clock tower, mosque, pearl monument and beginning of the souks area are located, and it is advisable to set aside anything up to a full day in which to explore the fascinating labyrinthine nature of the traditional Qatari souks. For a country with such enormous reserves of wealth, the shopping culture is bound to feature heavily, and the city's prime example of lavish modern shopping culture must surely be the Venetian-themed Villaggio shopping mall, easily one of the world's greatest commercial complexes, and a mall featuring such exquisite and tasteful decor that it evokes the 'only in Qatar' reflection. As Doha's financial district develops further into the Manhattan-esque array of gleaming tower blocks, similarly, the city's outgrowth and tourism potential appears to be keeping pace.
Buildings of the financial district (Doha; Qatar)
For a tourist jaunt within the city's confines, it is recommended to visit the waterfront development area known as Katara cultural village, and the neighbouring man-made beach, and in this immediate area, features such as the outdoor ampitheatre, traditional twin towers and mosque will make you realize that thought has gone into the traditional elements of Qatari culture which nestle alongside the more modern-day features. Immediately north of this lies the Pearl and all of its features likened to a piece of the Italian Riviera in the Middle East, and the level of cosmopolitanism is also reflected in the numerous eateries located in Doha which take a diner's taste buds on a worldwide voyage of sorts. For many years, Doha was somehow marginalized and written off as an unexciting hub of (growing) finance in the Middle East, seemingly without any tourist draw card to lure the visitor to make the trek there.
Man-made beach at Katara cultural village (Doha; Qatar)
A short stay in Doha revealed that those days are now thankfully being buried under a mass of development which has come to characterize modern-day Qatar as a gleaming jewel of Arabia which it now resembles. Coupled with the fact that the country's national carrier is one of the world's most reliable and customer-friendly airlines, getting to Doha could prove to be a pleasureable experience even before touching down at Doha international airport.