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Qatar Airways Promotes Doha as Stopover Destination: What Passengers Can See in Doha

Qatar Airways Promotes Doha as Stopover Destination: What Passengers Can See in Doha

BY GEORGE MWANGI February 13, 2024 4 COMMENTS

Qatar Airways will partner with Qatar Tourism to promote Doha as a must-see destination for its passengers. The airline's destination management company, Discover Qatar, will create stopover packages for passengers interested in visiting Qatar. Most of Qatar Airways' customers pass through Hamad International Airport (DOH) on connecting flights to over 170 destinations across all six inhabited continents. However, the airline wants travelers to explore the attractions in Doha and other parts of Qatar.

 

Qatar views tourism as an important component of Qatar National Vision 2030, a state-backed plan to become an advanced society with sustainable development and a high standard of living for its residents by 2030. The country also aims to expand its international standing by becoming a hub for multiple industries. Qatar's major accomplishments include hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup and establishing a flag carrier that regularly ranks among the world's best airlines in various rankings.  

 

Photo: Jared Jamel | AeroXplorer

 

What's Included in Qatar Airways' Stopover Packages

 

Qatar Airways will offer the following options for passengers interested in a stopover:

 

  • Standard: Accommodation in a four-star hotel
  • Premium: Accommodation in a five-star hotel
  • Premium with Beach Access: Accommodation in a five-star hotel with access to Doha Sands Beach and West Bay Beach
  • Luxury: Accommodation in a five-star hotel with breakfast included
  • All-Inclusive Beach: Accommodation in a five-star hotel with breakfast and all-inclusive access to the previously mentioned beaches

 

All stopover packages will include amenities to allow passengers to maximize their time in Qatar. These amenities include 24 check-in facilities, airport transfers, and guided tours of major tourist attractions. This announcement comes two months after Qatar Airways announced its summer schedule, which includes a new route to Hamburg and the resumption of flights to Venice. 

 



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His Excellency Saad bin Ali Al Kharji, Chairman of Qatar Tourism, said about the stopover program:

 

"The 'Stopover in Qatar' offering is an embodiment of continuity of the cooperation between Qatar Tourism and Qatar Airways providing travellers the opportunity to expand their destination experience and explore this remarkable country. Recognizing the richness and diversity of Qatar's tourism, we believe that the 'Stopover in Qatar' package will be highly valuable for tourists with limited time."

 

What Passengers Can See in Doha

 

I had the opportunity to visit Doha twice: in December 2023 and January 2024. Both trips were done as stopovers on Qatar Airways flights between Washington, D.C. (IAD) and Nairobi (NBO). My first trip was during an 11-hour layover at DOH, while my second trip involved spending two nights in Doha. I will share recommended attractions for anyone interested in visiting Doha on a stopover or a standalone trip.

 

Doha's skyline viewed from the Doha Corniche | Photo: George Mwangi

 

My first day in Doha was on December 17, almost exactly one year after Lionel Messi led Argentina to a victory against France at the 2022 FIFA World Cup final on December 18, 2022. Doha has several attractions honoring the tournament, including the official sign and countdown clock. Both attractions are located along the Doha Corniche, a 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) waterfront promenade along Doha Bay. I recommend walking, running, or biking the Doha Corniche to see multiple monuments and amazing views of the city's skyline. 
 

The official countdown clock for the 2022 FIFA World Cup | Photo: George Mwangi

 

I advise allocating significant time to exploring the waterfront since you may make multiple stops to check out the attractions. I saw a group of men walking their camels outside Amiri Divan, the administrative office of Qatar's Emir. The Emir is Qatar's monarch, head of state, and the military's commander-in-chief. The men patrol the area to ensure the Emir's maximum security and avoid potential threats. Other attractions along the Doha Corniche include another statue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which can be seen from a distance on an island. 
 

Men and camels walking outside Amiri Divan | Photo: George Mwangi

 

I eventually reached Katara Cultural Village after riding a scooter along the waterfront for over an hour. The Katara Cultural Village is a neighborhood with traditional Qatari architecture and modern designs, highlighting Qatar's combination of the old and new. The area's main attractions include Katara Mosque, Katara Ampitheatre, and other traditional buildings that can be discovered on the narrow walkways. Since Katara Mosque is one of the few mosques that non-Muslims can visit, I recommend going inside to learn more about Qatar's Islamic heritage. 
 

The Katara Amphitheatre | Photo: George Mwangi

 

I returned to Doha for two days on January 13 and 14 after spending one month in Kenya. Anyone interested in colorful architecture or who enjoyed their trip to Venice should visit the canals at The Pearl, an artificial island on approximately four square kilometers (1.5 square miles) of reclaimed land. The area's buildings feature bright colors like yellow, blue, pink, and orange. Although travelers cannot ride in a gondola on the canals, it's still a nice area to walk around and admire the European-style architecture. 
 

One of the canals in The Pearl, surrounded by flags and colorful buildings | Photo: George Mwangi

 

Doha can get extremely hot during the day, even during the winter. I recommend visiting the Qatar National Library and the Education City Mosque in the Education City neighborhood to avoid the heat. The library has over one million books and two exhibitions: one showcasing Qatar's history and another highlighting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Meanwhile, the mosque has futuristic architecture, providing many opportunities for visitors to take extremely aesthetic photos. Education City is also home to multiple universities, including regional campuses for major Western schools like Georgetown and Northwestern. 
 

Outside the Education City Mosque | Photo: George Mwangi


 

Qatar's climate means that residents spend significant time indoors, with Doha having multiple shopping malls. I recommend visiting Villagio Mall for similar reasons at The Pearl: it has a canal and Venetian architecture. The mall provides the full Venice experience since visitors can ride in a gondola operated by a gondolier. The ceiling is even painted like the sky to give the feeling of actually being in Venice. Villagio Mall and Doha's other malls are also good places to visit for restaurants and shopping. 
 

On a gondola ride in the Villagio Mall | Photo: George Mwangi


 

My final day in Doha was devoted to exploring more attractions along the waterfront. Doha is an international city, with almost 80% of its population being foreigners. Flag Plaza showcases the city's global atmosphere with flags representing the 119 countries with diplomatic missions in Qatar. Another attraction is The Pearl Monument, highlighting the country's pearl trading tradition. The pearl industry was the backbone of Qatar's economy for centuries, with the pearl trade making up most of its income until oil and gas were discovered in the 20th century. 
 

The flags of various countries at Flag Plaza | Photo: George Mwangi

 

Art and history enthusiasts should visit the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), showcasing Islamic art from three continents over 1,400 years. The works include carpets, pottery, religious texts, ceramics, and exhibitions highlighting the spread of Islam. Travelers interested in something newer can admire the museum's modern building design and scenic views of the Doha skyline. I recommend spending a few hours at MIA since it has thousands of works across five floors. 
 

The Exterior of the Museum of Islamic Art | Photo: George Mwangi

 

Doha's coastal location provides visitors with ample opportunities for boat rides and beach trips. Travelers can ride in a dhow, a traditional wooden boat used for activities like fishing, pearling, and international trade. Dhows have been used by various groups living along the Indian Ocean for centuries. I recommend doing the dhow ride at sunset to witness amazing views of Doha's skyline. Some dhow operators offer traditional Qatari food during the ride for anyone interested in the local cuisine, which can be difficult to find outside Qatar. 
 

Doha's skyline at sunset, viewed from the dhow ride | Photo: George Mwangi

 

Finally, a trip to Doha is incomplete without visiting Souq Waqif, a marketplace with shops selling traditional garments, spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs. Visitors could spend a few hours here since there are many narrow alleyways and shops with vendors excited to sell their goods. Souq Waqif was especially festive during my visit since it was the start of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. Football fans from many Asian countries visited Doha to see their nation's team play. I witnessed flags, patriotic chants, and a generally festive atmosphere among visitors from Jordan, Iraq, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, and several other nations. 
 

Walking down an alleyway in Souq Waqif | Photo: George Mwangi

 

Although travelers can visit Souq Waqif during the day, I recommend witnessing a more lively atmosphere at night. These are some of the attractions passengers can see during a stopover in Doha on a Qatar Airways flight. Travelers can also see other parts of Qatar through activities like desert safaris and mangrove kayaking. Passengers can stay in Doha for up to four nights through a Qatar Airways stopover or even longer if they visit on a standalone trip. 
 



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Where Passengers Can Fly on Qatar Airways to Doha From

 

Qatar Airways offers nonstop flights to over 80 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America. The airline and its hub airport in Doha are among the few worldwide to serve every inhabited continent. Qatar Airways is also popular for one-stop itineraries due to Doha's strategic location at the crossroads of three continents.

 

Qatar Airways continues to expand its international network each year to accommodate growing travel demand, especially now that the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided. On December 21, the carrier announced its summer 2024 schedule to allow passengers to plan their trips several months in advance. Qatar Airways expects strong traffic from travelers based in Australia, China, Japan, the Philippines, South Africa, and Thailand. 

 

Photo: Phan Phuong Phi | AeroXplorer

 

Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, Qatar Airways Group's CEO, said about the airline's network expansion in December:

 

"As this year comes to an end, we are delighted to present our passengers with new and exciting travel opportunities for the year 2024. Starting with our resumption to Venice and an inaugural flight to Hamburg, Qatar Airways and its hub, Hamad International Airport, continues to position itself on the global map as a leading gateway for international travel and connectivity. We look forward to seeing our passengers uncover new experiences and resume flying to their favourite destinations."

 

Qatar Airways generally launches new routes and adds more frequencies to existing routes during busy travel periods, including the summer and the holiday season in December. November to March is the best time to visit Qatar due to its mild climate, and passengers can escape from the cold weather in their home countries. 

 

Photo: Tejas Bhatia | AeroXplorer

 

On November 29, the carrier announced additional frequencies on the following routes for the 2023-24 winter season:

 

  • Amsterdam (AMS): From 10 to 14 weekly flights
  • Bangkok (BKK): From 35 to 38 weekly flights
  • Barcelona (BCN): From 18 to 21 weekly flights
  • Belgrade (BEG) and Miami (MIA): From 7 to 10 weekly flights

 

Al-Meer said about the carrier's winter schedule in November:

 

"Qatar Airways is an airline that continually enhances its offerings to business and leisure travellers across the globe. The award-winning airline is proud to announce its expanded flight frequencies to its ever-growing network, and we look forward to seeing our passengers enjoy greater connectivity across the globe via our home hub, Hamad International Airport, starting this winter season."

 

Photo: Lucas Wu | AeroXplorer

 

Passengers interested in visiting Qatar or flying on Qatar Airways to another destination can book their flights on the airline's website or various flight search engines. Qatar Airways flights offer up to three cabin classes: economy, business, and first class. The exact amenities and configurations on each flight vary based on the aircraft and the flight's duration. 

 

Qatar Airways' fleet currently has the following aircraft:

 

  • 29 Airbus A320-200s
  • Four Airbus A330-200s
  • Eight Airbus A330-300s
  • 34 Airbus A350-900s
  • 24 Airbus A350-1000s
  • 10 Airbus A380-800s
  • Nine Boeing 737 MAX 8s
  • Seven Boeing 777-200LRs
  • 57 Boeing 777-300ERs
  • 30 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners
  • 17 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners

 

Qatar Airways is always ordering new aircraft as it continues its international expansion. The airline has 50 Airbus A321neos, 18 Airbus A350-1000s, 25 Boeing 737 MAX 10s (with 25 options), and 50 Boeing 777-9s in its order book. These planes will replace the carrier's A320-200s, A330s, and A380s, which will all be retired over the next few years. 

 



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George Mwangi
Aviation writer based in Washington, DC. Visited 21 countries on thousands of miles of flights.

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