Why book a family holiday to Qatar?
Qatar for families
With family and children very much at the centre of Qatari life, it's little surprise that the destination caters so well to family travellers. The bustling capital, Doha, is full of playgrounds and parks, attractions geared towards families, and restaurants where children are most welcome. The majority of hotels have kids facilities, as well as clubs and private sections of beach reserved for children to paddle safely with floats and inflatables.
The range of activities and adventures for families visiting Qatar is also impressive. Various tour agencies organise exciting trips to the desert or voyages aboard traditional dhows. You can also explore independently in a four-by-four vehicle, visiting sights such as the Singing Sand Dunes that's a particular hit with kids.
Family fun and adventure
Qatar's capital Doha is a clean, safe and ultra-modern city that's fun to explore with family. Taking a walk along the waterfront corniche is an absolute must, not least to see the magnificent view of futuristic buildings clustering around the bay and old-fashioned dhows bobbing on the water. Al Wakrah Park is another good spot for families visiting Doha. The large landscaped park is dotted with shading trees and has a swimming pool, children's playground and cafeteria. All the family will be fascinated by the colours and curiosities of bustling Souk Waqif - said to be the oldest indoor-outdoor market in Arabia - and children will be especially enchanted by the Harry Potter-esque falcon area where young Qataris come to purchase their first pet birds of prey.
Beyond the city, Qatar's seemingly limitless dunescapes are given over to all manner of activities and extreme sports from dune-bashing to camel safaris that can be a thrill for the whole family. South-west of Doha, the towering Singing Sand Dunes are a great place for a family day trip during the cooler months. As well as listening for the fabled singing - a low-pitched hum produced by the crescent-shaped dunes - kids love climbing the sand dunes and sliding down, and you can bring a picnic to make the most of the scenic Arabian location. Stay until sunset to witness the magical shifting colours of the dunes.
There are countless options for having fun out on the water in and around Doha in particular. You can travel the traditional Arabian way on a dhow cruise leaving from Doha port or choose a more modern way to explore. With Paddle Qatar you can head out onto the shallow languid waters in a fleet of kayaks on a range of different itineraries. The experienced and enthusiastic guides at Entalek Eco-Adventures will take you kayaking from Al Thakira beach in Al Khor province through Al Dakhira Nature Reserve's hidden mangroves, where there's a chance of spotting rare species such as dugongs. For the really adventurous, there's a moonlight mangrove tour that culminates with a camp fire supper at the beach. During the winter you can reserve a semi-permanent tent to camp overnight at the beach and enjoy a barbecue dinner.
Hotels for all the family
At the high end of the hotel spectrum the private Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara has a spectacular setting and fantastic family-orientated facilities just a 20-minute boat ride from Doha. This exclusive island resort tucked behind a long curving beach has all the bells and whistles including an indulgent spa, a watersports and diving centre, and no less than nine dining options. The resort's family offering includes kids and teens clubs, a wave surf pool and another with water slides, a bowling alley and even a cinema.
Travellers looking for a more traditional low-key beach resort can consider staying at the Luxury Sealine Beach Resort in a peaceful setting on Qatar's south-east coast around 40 minutes' drive from Doha. Its collection of villas are large enough to comfortably accommodate families and chalets are interconnecting for larger groups. Many of the rooms open onto patios right on the beach where the calm shallow water is ideal for youngsters to paddle and there are a range of watersports for older kids and adults. Beyond the varied buffet restaurant, other dining options such as the on-site Italian restaurant and pool-side grill are popular with families. If you want to explore outside the resort, the interesting town of Mesaieed is close by, where you can go and see the famous Arabian horses at the stables and race course. You can try horseback riding in the surrounding desert or an exhilarating off-road safari in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
If you want to stay in the exclusive Pearl island development close to the bright lights of Doha, the fabulous Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel has an impressive location in the centre of a lagoon and caters to families with large rooms and a staffed kids club with an indoor play area. In the nearby West Bay beach area, a range of family-friendly international hotels overlook the sandy shoreline, showing their dedication to family travellers with a range of purpose-built facilities and even sections of supervised beach especially for children.
Family 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.