July 31, 2011

Stopover in Doha

Qatar is bidding to become the host of World Cup 2022. And they were the host for the Asian Games in 2006. 

Since I flew with Qatar Airways for my trip to Moscow and Istanbul, I took the opportunity to visit the country. On both trips, I purposely took a longer connecting flight so that I had some time to go out to the city. 

As we were landing, I saw that Doha airport was surrounded by deserts. It was hazy, looked like it hadn’t rained in months. 

For Malaysian visiting Qatar, we can apply for Visa On Arrival (VOA) at the immigration counter. No need to fill in any forms, you just need to pay QR100 by credit card. Yup, for reasons I didn’t know why, they accept the payment only by credit card. The visa is valid for one month and you are also allowed an entry to Sultanate of Oman.

Paid the visa fee and off we went out from the airport. 

mosque in front of the airport

My sister and I walked to the nearby supermarket, Family Food Centre, to buy some snacks for breakfast. It was 9.30am but my God, it was so hot!

Done shopping, we walked to the nearest bus station. First on our list of places to visit was Souq Waqif. 

When buses stopped to take passengers, we asked the drivers whether or not they would pass by Souq Waqif. Most of the drivers said they wouldn’t. But finally one driver said we could ride the bus as he’s stopping at the Public Bus Station, one of the main bus terminal, and from there we could take another bus to the souq. 

bus in GCC countries has ladies and families priority seats

So we rode that bus no 19 to the bus terminal. The journey from the airport to the bus terminal was only around 10 minutes and the fare was QR3. From the bus terminal, we took bus no 76 and asked the driver to stop at the nearest bus stand to the souq. In the bus, what I noticed was all the passengers were foreigners. But what do you expect right? Tak dapat Jack nak tengok Pak Arab naik bas kat sini. Hahaha…

Islamic Museum of Arts as seen from the Corniche

On the way, I saw Islamic Museum of Arts but as we didn’t have much time on hand, we skipped it. Would be too rushing inside there, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the arts. The bus driver then stopped us at a main road nearby a junction. 

dates tree

In front of us, there’s a nicely landscaped pavewalk along the glittering sea. We were actually at the Corniche, a horse-shoe-shaped walk along the bay. 

Doha Bay

If the weather was nice, it was definitely perfect for sightseeing. But it wasn’t that day. Seriously, it was damn scorching hot I thought it was more than 40 degree celcius!! T_T

However, we braved the heat for a while to enjoy the view. There’s several parks and attractions along the Corniche such as this Oyster and Pearl, 

a homage to Qatar’s pearl diving past, and the Water Pots fountain and the Teapot.  

Then we quickly crossed the road to the souq. This popular bazaar, Souq Waqif is a shopper's haven. 

Abayas, atar oils, spices, peanuts, dates, you can get everything there.

But as we shopped, one by one, the traders closed their shop. We were confused but then I got it. Previously when I was in Oman and UAE, it was the same. They closed the shop in the afternoon because it was too hot. The business will only resume in the evening when it is cooler. 

Since the souq was closed, and it was too hot to go for sightseeing outside, we headed to the mall. Took a taxi to City Center Doha, the most happening mall in Doha.

Watching a movie in Doha is damn expensive. The normal ticket is QR40!

I went in some of the international brands store, not much difference from prices in KL since the currency exchange rate of Ringgit to Qatar Riyal at that time was almost 1:1.

Late afternoon, we went back to the souq to continue exploring the many shops inside the narrow and maze-like pathways. It was interesting, really. There are also many cafes and restaurants, traditional as well as modern. 

We walked around until it was almost time for our next flight check in. You really lost your time when you shopped. Hahaha… Since we were already late, we took a taxi back to the airport. Luckily the fare was only QR22. 

On my second visit to Doha, I had 19 hours to kill. As I arrived after midnight, there's nothing much I could do. So I went to sleep in the quiet room while waiting for the sun. 


At around 9am, I went to the immigration counter. Paid the visa fee, and went out to revisit the souq, the Corniche, the mall and the city.

not sure what this building is.. it is in front of the souq

hazy Doha

skyscrapers in the city

I didn’t see much in Doha due to time constraint, but I believe the city has a lot more attractions to offer as they’re catching up fast with Dubai and Abu Dhabi. 

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