Qatar: the perfect partner for a multicentre holiday
Multicentre holidays in Qatar
Fast emerging as the stylish and modern face of the Middle East, Qatar is small enough to be explored on excursions from one central base but it's also the perfect partner for a twin or multicentre holiday somewhere further afield. Its position on the far edge of the Arabian Peninsula puts it at the half-way point between the UK and exotic eastern destinations, making it the ideal stopover to break up a long journey.
International airlines fly from the UK via Qatar's modern stylish capital of Doha to far-flung paradises in the Indian Ocean and south-east Asia. Popular destinations to twin with Qatar include the Maldives, Sri Lanka and the Indonesian island of Bali, which is a 17-hour-plus flight time from the UK. All of these destinations usually require a refuelling stop en route in the UAE or Qatar anyway so it makes sense to extend your stay and explore this rich corner of Arabia before heading off for a tropical adventure or beach escape.
Why visit Qatar?
Qatar's modern stylish capital, rich Arabian heritage, luxurious waterfront hotels and stunning desertscapes make it an appealing destination for all types of traveller. Whether you want to venture into towering crescent dunes, shop until you drop in Doha's malls and souks, revel in luxury or soak up the sunshine, visiting Qatar will add a completely different dimension to your trip.
With international airlines flying from the UK via Qatar to popular tropical spots such as the Maldives, the Seychelles, Bali and Thailand, a stop in Qatar can make the long journey much more manageable too. Direct flights from the UK to Qatar take around seven-and-a-half hours.
Shopping trips in Doha
Qatar's capital Doha is the ideal destination for a shopping spree. The chic city has a whole host of ultra modern shopping developments including outdoor landscaped districts and luxurious indoor malls with international brands and designer stores. It is also home to the Gulf region's oldest souk - Souk Waqif - a rabbit's warren of stalls and shops selling a myriad of exotic Arabian treats and offering a window on the region's rich traditions and culture.
Among Qatar's most impressive places for a spot of retail therapy, Villagio Mall, in the west of the city, has an elaborate Venetian design with canals complete with gondolas to ride. It includes the exclusive Via Domo area with designer shops such as Christian Dior, Gucci and Prada, and there is also a cinema, the Gondolania indoor theme park with funfair rides, a bowling alley, go-karting and an ice rink.
Another option is the self-contained shopping district known as City Center, with 270 shops and counting, including a mix of international brands and local stores, an ice rink on the first floor, a cinema and countless places to grab a coffee or meal. Similarly, Landmark Mall in the north of Doha offers familiar labels and family amusements such as a multi-screen Cineplex showing the latest movies and the Circus Land indoor theme park. You can find high-street retailers like Monsoon, HandM, Zara and Marks and Spencer, as well as casual restaurants including Pizza Express, in a cool and spacious indoor environment.
As dusk falls in Doha, head to Souk Waqif in the old part of the city for an authentic Arabian shopping experience. Browse its treasure trove of shops and sample local fare at one of its many restaurants in the main street.
Rest and relaxation in Qatar
Qatar has a plethora of international luxury hotels and resorts such as the Ritz Carlton Doha, with private beaches and deluxe spas, where you can simply unwind and enjoy excellent service. Qatar's hot sunny climate means there's always a chance to soak up the rays from a cabana on a manicured sandy beach and take a refreshing dip in the gentle ocean. Close to Doha, artificially-created island the Pearl is the best spot if you want to be dazzled with Arabian luxury. The Marsa Malaz Kempinski in particular is an exclusive resort with the only Clarins spa in Qatar. Banana Island, just offshore, is ideal for peace and quiet in an exclusive setting.
After a long flight you may want to indulge in rejuvenating therapies in one of the high-end spas that Qatar has to offer. Banana Island's Balance Wellness Centre is the most tempting option with inventive facilities such as a Reflexology River and Zen Garden, as well as ancient ayurvedic massage to sooth mind, body and soul. For an atmospheric arabesque spa experience, head to Doha's Six Senses Spa at Sharq Village for a few hours of pure heaven.
Multicentre holidays in Qatar
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In their quest to diversify Qatar’s economy away from oil and gas, officials are continuing to bet big on the emirate’s tourism sector. At the Hospitality Qatar 2016 expo, it was announced that Qatar’s hospitality sector would receive $40bn in investments over the next 15 years, which would result in an additional 105 hotels.
Airports can often be the dullest places to hang out with long queues at check-in and security, and then a just few shops and restaurants when you finally get through. However, many airports are now striving to offer passengers more when they travel, and Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar has been named as the "coolest" airport in the world by the deals website Travelzoo.
The Qatar Tourism Authority has announced it will implement a new grading and classification system for hotels. The environmental sustainability and management of the hotels will also be evaluated for the first time, and properties will be graded using a star-rating system that will rate the public areas, accommodation and facilities.