Making the Most of Doha: A Business Traveller’s Guide
So you've got a few days in Doha on business and you're wondering how the city will stack up when it comes to keeping you occupied and entertained during your downtime. It might not be Dubai, but that's no bad thing. It's authentic, conservative, convenient, and perhaps a little more refined and relaxed. It's true that alcohol is limited in its availability, but that won't be an issue for hotel guests, and there are plenty of other possibilities to enliven your stay. Approach Qatar with an open mind and it certainly won't let you down.
Think About Driving
Your experience starts at the airport -- one of the world's newest and best. While most business visitors will have their local transport taken care of, or will be taking taxis everywhere, do give some consideration to renting a car for the duration of your stay. Your options range from the highly affordable to the highly luxurious, and having your own vehicle will afford you the flexibility to get around the city as and when you wish. You can drive on your home country license during the first 7 days after your arrival in Qatar. After that, a temporary Qatari license is necessary. Traffic isn't a serious issue, although Qatari driving norms mean it's better to choose a larger vehicle. Nobody wants to give way to someone driving a Toyota Yaris.
Many of Doha's leading hotels are to be found in the West Bay district of the city, at the northern end of the Corniche, in the heart of the spectacular forest of skyscrapers. The Centara West Bay Residences & Suites is no exception, located conveniently in the central business district. There are often promotions for business travelers offering discounts on food, beverages, and laundry along with other perks, and the property provides a swimming pool and state-of-the-art gym to help you maintain your fitness routines while away from home.
Finding a Drink
Alcohol is of interest to many visitors, and the good news is that it can be found in hotels and other licensed establishments. Qatar is not a dry country in the style of Saudi Arabia -- however, you will need to show your passport if you want to drink, and you should ensure you don't carry alcohol around with you off the licensed premises. It is an offence to be drunk, so it's important to exercise restraint. Less well known is the fact that electronic cigarettes are also illegal.
Golfers will find Doha an especially pleasant destination thanks to the existence of the Doha Golf Club, which has hosted an annual European Tour event since 1998, and the new Education City Golf Club. Both offer high-quality championship courses, but it is the latter venue that may be particularly appealing.
Education City has a golfing Centre of Excellence which makes TrackMan technology available to visitors who want to work on the finer points of their game. Alternatively, there is a nine-hole course constructed to USGA standards that operates under lights, so you can enjoy a round in cooler evening temperatures.
Qatar's Sporting Credentials
Those wishing to inject more adrenalin into their sporting pursuits might like to check out the Qatar Motorsport Academy, based at the Losail International Circuit which hosts an annual Moto GP. They also organize track days where you can test your existing skills and learn a few new ones from expert professional instructors.
In fact, sport is one of the vehicles through which Qatar is currently seeking to expand its global influence, so you'll find that the country often hosts major international events. The 2019 FIFA World Club Cup is one such example, as a precursor to the big prize, the upcoming FIFA World Cup of 2022. Qatar has also hosted the Asian Games and the Asian Football Cup, as well as annual ATP and WTA tennis events, and IAAF Athletics meetings. Handball is popular, while Qatar has submitted a bid to host the World Basketball Championships in 2023. There is always something happening, so it's worth checking the schedules before you arrive and you might just catch a world-class sporting event during your stay.
Rest and Relaxation
Of course, you may be looking for something a little more low-key to while away a few hours. You'll find that shopping and dining options are readily available, with the hotels providing their famous brunch buffets on Fridays, and the major malls keeping the most discerning of buyers occupied. There's also the recently opened National Museum, which gives a fascinating insight into the background of the country your business hosts call home. It's never easy to make time for everything, especially when you have a busy working schedule, but this is one stop that is definitely worth your time.