Doha: worth a stopover?

Old Sep 5, 06, 7:41 am
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Question Doha: worth a stopover?

There is an uncanny dearth of information on this board about actually visiting Doha. Does anyone go there, or do they all pass through unles they live there?

I'm going to take advantage of QR's ludicrously cheap J flights from CPT to LON and wondered if it would be an idea to stop over in DOH. What does one do there apart from kick back in a resort? Are there decent beaches for swimming? I am a little familiar with Dubai, but somehow nobody seems to see DOH as a destination in quite the same way.

And what about Bahrain? (I might accumulate some BA tier points with a little DOH-BAH-DOH trip.) All the same questions come to mind.

Your advice will be much appreciated.
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Old Sep 7, 06, 2:07 am
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Originally Posted by Cheetah_SA
There is an uncanny dearth of information on this board about actually visiting Doha. Does anyone go there, or do they all pass through unles they live there?

I'm going to take advantage of QR's ludicrously cheap J flights from CPT to LON and wondered if it would be an idea to stop over in DOH. What does one do there apart from kick back in a resort? Are there decent beaches for swimming? I am a little familiar with Dubai, but somehow nobody seems to see DOH as a destination in quite the same way.

And what about Bahrain? (I might accumulate some BA tier points with a little DOH-BAH-DOH trip.) All the same questions come to mind.

Your advice will be much appreciated.
Indeed the Sheraton Resort is the highlight with its beach. Shopping was also recommended to me. Not much going on...
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Old Dec 7, 07, 8:29 pm
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bump...
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Old Dec 16, 07, 9:17 am
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although i haven't been in doha itself, only the airport, i believe doha used to vie with abu dhabi to be the world's most boring capital city.

ian.
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Old Jan 6, 08, 12:29 pm
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I guess i'm the only one on the board here, but i live in doha. haven't yet updated my profile so ignore the berne location. not sure i would rate here as worth a stopover, on the order of dubai or even abu dhabi. we are the 'little dubai' and i mean that little. we have a decent collection of hotels, 4S, ritz, sheraton, marriott, IC, movenpick; with many more on the way in 2008 (2 more marriotts, hyatt, hilton, w, shangri la, etc). pretty large mall in City Center, but doesn't hold a candle to the emirates mall i hear. our souk is 'rebuilt' and looks like disneyland. we have a mall (villagio) that is an exact knock off of the venetian mall in vegas (down to the indoor gondola ride and the sky blue and clouds ceiling). we have fridays, applebees, chilis, pizza hut, DQ, all the american chains, except they don't serve liquor, only at the hotels. there are some pretty good ethnic restaurants also. much construction around town, so traffic is a mess, and dusty. and yes, the qataris drive like maniacs in their land cruisers and range rovers, and they leave the plastic on the seats and the bar code sticker on the window that comes when they buy the car, supposedely so they want everyone to notice that they have a new car (haven't figured out that one yet) Nice cool weather right now, but unbearable in summer, so everyone leaves jun/jul/aug. a few more years when the pearl opens (manmade island copied from the palm in dubai), when more hotels open, when the new arabic museum opens, when the roads are done, when the new downtown is built, etc, etc it might be worth a long weekend. i don't know the attraction right now as they try to entice the convention, meeting, and incentive crowd. and oh yea, they are bidding on the 2016 olympics, if you can believe that anyone wants to come to the gulf during august.

having said all that, i am not a Doha basher, I actually enjoy living here, the school for our child is great, and my housing is just fine. its just a lot of us spend a lot of time figuring out how to get out of here to visit other places. i'll be ready to move on in 2009.

if you've been to dubai, doha will be a big disappointment. if you come here and then go to dubai, you will then really understand a city in the midst of spectacular transformation.

Last edited by zaccaggie; Jan 6, 08 at 12:49 pm
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Old Jan 7, 08, 4:41 am
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Interesting... I would much rather visit Doha than Dubai . I visited doha 3 or 4 times last year (but usually just for a day or two) and I have a few friends there who know the city well and know how to keep me busy . Personally I prefer Beirut to all the cities I've visited in the Middle East (despite the "challenges" we are facing right now), but then again, my opinion about Beirut may be a bit biased .
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Old Jan 7, 08, 10:35 am
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Thanks, zaccaggie!

Such timing: I started this thread well over a year ago and will actually visit Doha for the first time this month.

Originally Posted by BEYFlyer View Post
Interesting... I would much rather visit Doha than Dubai . I visited doha 3 or 4 times last year (but usually just for a day or two) and I have a few friends there who know the city well and know how to keep me busy . Personally I prefer Beirut to all the cities I've visited in the Middle East (despite the "challenges" we are facing right now), but then again, my opinion about Beirut may be a bit biased .
I guess many places are what you make of them - and knowing locals always helps to get below the surface of a place. But I would venture to say that a much higher percentage of people who have visited Beirut would rate it highly than would be the case for Doha. From what I've heard it just is intrinsically more fun and interesting.
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Old Jan 8, 08, 2:02 am
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Originally Posted by Cheetah_SA View Post
...I guess many places are what you make of them - and knowing locals always helps to get below the surface of a place. But I would venture to say that a much higher percentage of people who have visited Beirut would rate it highly than would be the case for Doha. From what I've heard it just is intrinsically more fun and interesting.
True, true and oh so true . Hopefully one day you can swing by my city. Safe travels.
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Old Apr 9, 08, 1:17 pm
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thanks for a local's point of view zaccaggie

Originally Posted by Cheetah_SA View Post
Such timing: I started this thread well over a year ago and will actually visit Doha for the first time this month.
Cheetah_SA, how was your trip to Doha ?

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Old Apr 14, 08, 7:27 am
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Originally Posted by Sweet Willie View Post
Cheetah_SA, how was your trip to Doha ?
Well, it wasn't really a "trip" so much as 2 fleeting stopovers - one planned, the other compliments of a missed connection and QR. And we didn't do much except explore our hotels and wander about a huge shopping mall.

QR put us up in the Moevenpick when the flight from CPT came in late and we missed the only flight to MLE. It was more than adequate. The check-in - at 5am with a bunch of others who had suffered similar fates on different flights - was very efficient. Obviously they do this for QR a lot. The room was large but dark. The buffet meals were wonderful and full of tempting middle eastern and western dishes. We even got coupons that bought delightful cocktails in the lobby cafe. We used their top floor pool and health club - great after an exhausting, delayed flight - and then went back to the airport for an overnight flight to MLE.

On our return we stayed overnight at the Sheraton. Nice enough, lovely grounds with beach and pool, and a swanky restaurant with views (which was closed the day we were there). The flight path of planes approaching DOH came right passed us and was quite exciting as the planes seemed almost to skim the tops of the skyscrapers.

The weather in Jan was too cool for swimming - actually a bit foggy and drizzly at times! So we just wandered around a bit admiring the explosion of huge new buildings and buildings-in-the-making. Being a pedestrian in Doha is made all but impossible with all the construction going on. Even without it I doubt anyone walks; we felt rather conspicuous on foot.

We visited a huge mall and is was, well, a huge mall. Not much sign of anything you wouldn't find in huge malls anywhere else. Didn't visit the souk. We had just returned from Oman and were a bit souked out. (We are souk wimps!)

Perhaps the most notable feature of Doha for me was the absence of any interaction with anyone Qatari. All the taxi drivers were from Kerala and the hotel staff was a mix of Asian and European, but nary an arab. This was in stark, and IMO unfavourable, contrast with Oman where almost every person we dealt with was Omani and keen to share insights into their country.

DOH is a circus of Roman proportions. When you are closeted in the comparative calm and elegance of the premium terminal it is lovely. But if you enter the country you are forced to queue for immigration (although on one pass through someone somehow noticed we were F pax and opened a new priority line - there were no signs) and battle the hordes at the exit (mercifully there was a chap with a Sheraton board who popped us into a taxi that was charged to the room - nice facility!).

Well, that's it. Not much of a trip report, I'm afraid. Sorry we were such lazy visitors to what I am sure must be a more interesting city than I have managed to convey.
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Old Oct 24, 08, 6:20 am
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Doha souqs and nightlife?

This is my first trip to Doha of more than a couple of days, so I would like to explore a bit.

A few posters in various boards have mentioned the great souq and a mall that is modeled after the one at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Where are these? (Edited to add: I found the souq. Not too interesting. I also found the Villaggio; I will check that out next.)

And how about nightlife? I am looking for both upscale places and mid-scale places. (For those who know Abu Dhabi, for example, I love the bar on the second floor of Le Royal Meridien, for an upscale place that caters mostly to Arabs and other locals. I also loved the dumpy ethnic night clubs at the Zakher hotel across the street, although this is closed now I believe. If I could find something similar, that'd be great.)

I remember that the Ritz-Carlton had a nice a bar/club, and the Ramada has a surprising mix of several places. I went to the Rydges last time, which was OK, and someone on FlyerTalk has recommended the InterContinental bar. (Edited to link review of the InterContinental. The night club is pretty boisterous.)

Any other night-life suggestions?

P.S., Cheetah_SA, thank you for an informative report. I agree with your impressions. I also have not interacted with any Qataris, and that includes my clients, although they are very senior-level. That is a way that this country is different from, e.g., Abu Dhabi. The Movenpick is certainly a healthy distance from the airport! Good that they put you there for the environment, I suppose, but at that hour I imagine that you would have preferred the Marriott. (Edited to add: Now I see that there are two Movenpicks, one near the airport, and the other one, to which I was referring before, downtown near the Four Seasons and forthcoming Hilton, W, Shangi-La, and others!)

Last edited by mecabq; Oct 31, 08 at 1:53 pm
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Old Oct 25, 08, 5:19 am
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Not much to do and see in Doha, but it's definately worth a stopver. At least to get the stamp in your passport, hehehe.
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Old Oct 25, 08, 8:46 pm
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macabq, if you're there this week, I have a few questions for our trip there, next Sunday.

I will PM you.

Thanks to others for your responses to my PMs.
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Old Oct 29, 08, 2:32 pm
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Originally Posted by mecabq View Post
The Movenpick is certainly a healthy distance from the airport! Good that they put you there for the environment, I suppose, but at that hour I imagine that you would have preferred the Marriott. (Edited to add: Now I see that there are two Movenpicks, one near the airport, and the other one, to which I was referring before, downtown near the Four Seasons and forthcoming Hilton, W, Shangi-La, and others!)
I didn't realise there were 2 either. We stayed at the one at the very end of the Corniche just past the Sheraton. You're right that I would gladly have stayed in a Holiday Inn Express if I could have gotten there 1 hour sooner! QR bussed us there and the bus had fixed times so we spent what seemed like an eternity waiting at DOH on a very cruddy, cramped bus. On the way back I took a taxi.
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Old Oct 31, 08, 6:09 am
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Restaurants in Doha?

I don't want to hijack the thread, but its not worth its own...

I will layover in Doha for 6 hours from 7pm to 1am. Any suggestions to go downtown and have a nice meal at a hotel restaurant (in order to get alcohol, assuming this is like in Dubai)? Favorites would be some Middle Eastern cuisine. I am trying to impress my fiancee, so price is not much of an issue

And also, is immigration as bad as in Sharjah (i.e. 1 hour wait), which means are 6 hours actually enough to cab downtown, eat and get back (already checked-in and luggage checked through)?

Thanks for any suggestions,
Reto
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