24 hours in Doha
Written by Fran Gillespie Illustration by Fernando Volken Togni
The small peninsula of Qatar is the only true desert country worldwide, with no natural surface water, but featuring a long (563km) coastline with fine sandy beaches and majestic rolling dunes in the south.
Before oil production began 60 years ago, the population was around 25,000; now it nudges 1.7 million and is expected to increase still more as the nation gears up to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Only 15,000 years ago this low-lying land was submerged beneath the waters of the Arabian Gulf; human occupation appears to have begun around 8,000 years ago when Stone Age hunters arrived. For centuries, nomadic Bedouin wandered the gravelled plains of the interior with their sheep and camels, while coastal people fished for pearls – the main source of Qatar’s pre-oil wealth. Nominally part of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years, the foundations of the modern Qatar state were laid by Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, ancestor of the present ruler.
The fast-growing capital, Doha, encircles a wide bay and features stunning buildings designed by some of the world’s most famous architects, as well as lovingly preserved traditional architecture.
Book a Karwa limousine at the airport or 5-star hotels, or by calling 4458 8888, or 4462 6858 for an airport limousine.
All major rental companies have stands at Doha International Airport. Cars can be pre-booked at a hotel.
For distinctive turquoise Karwa metered taxis call 4458 8888 to book; allow one hour. Check outside hotels and malls or hail one on the street.
Karwa public buses are comfortable, clean, and cheap. Bus stops display timetables; buses run approximately every 15 minutes.