Qatar Takes Center Stage
Hot off the FIFA World Cup, the eyes of the world have been focused on Qatar.
The capital city of Doha, as well as the country’s newest city, Lusail, dazzled its visitors with events and festivities, ensuring that the World Cup was the sporting event of 2022. Throughout that year, visitors steadily increased month over month, and the October 2022 figures exceeded pre-pandemic numbers (32% more than October 2017). And, with a message of hope and positivity, they look forward to taking this positive spirit beyond the end of the World Cup, ensuring that their tourism numbers will continue to shine bright.
World Cup Fun Fact: As of this writing, the highest attendance in the history of the FIFA World Cup since the final match in 1994 was seen at Qatar’s Lusail Stadium, where 88,966 fans witnessed the Argentina v. Mexico Match.
Qatar has become the new “must-visit” destination in the Gulf region. The COO of Qatar Tourism, Berthold Trenkel said: “From tasting the local cuisine to visiting our iconic museums, from exhilarating dune walks to relaxing at the spa or on the beach, all guests planning to visit Qatar are in for an unforgettable experience. There is something for all ages in Qatar to suit every type of traveler and every budget.”
Historically, the country attracted visitors primarily from the Gulf region, making visitors from the GCC the leading source of all international arrivals (over a third at 33%) last October. However, at the same time, October saw a 10% increase from the prior month on the number of non-GCC tourists, at 66% of the total, an increase of 10%. Non-GCC arrivals hailed mainly from India (13%), the UK (4%) and the USA (3%). In October 2022, 70% of visitors arrived by air, followed by land (29%), and sea (1%).
As mentioned above, the new shining attraction in Qatar is the city of Lusail. It’s a dynamic, diverse, and unique destination for entertainment, retail shopping, hotels, and housing. The newest resort hotel to open in Lusail is Le Méridien Doha hotel (www.marriott.com), featuring neo-classical architecture. The hotel introduces travelers to the brand’s chic design and distinctly European spirit with 377 contemporary rooms, suites, and residences along with a host of signature restaurants.
In Doha, the recently opened Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha (www.rixos.com) is the first luxury beach resort in Qatar to usher in the all-inclusive lifestyle concept. The hotel offers panoramic views of the Arabian sea, six signature restaurants, nightly entertainment, kid’s activities, and immersive spa experiences.
On the Pearl Qatar, the recently opened St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island, (www.marriott.com), has quickly garnered rave reviews. Located directly in the heart of Porto Arabia, the St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island offers an exclusive island getaway. The island houses 193 hotel suites, all with large balconies overlooking the Arabian Gulf. There’s also ten world-renowned food and beverage outlets, a state-of-the-art recreational facility, and the region’s first Longevity Hub by Clinique La Prairie, making this unique island the perfect exotic wellness retreat. When booking a stay here, encourage your clients to have brunch at the hotel’s contemporary Turkish restaurant, Nar, for one of the best brunch experiences around!
The most anticipated project in the country was the re-opening of the iconic Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) this past autumn 2022. This celebrated landmark, designed by I.M. Pei, is in the heart of Doha and has re-opened with unique collections including a new exhibition, Baghdad: Eye’s Delight (running through February 2023).
The Al Riwaq Gallery will open a new exhibition introducing a new Lusail Museum designed by Herzog & de Meuron, which is currently under development. The gallery’s first-class collection will include Orientalist art and archaeological artifacts from prehistoric times to the present day.
The country’s West Bay North Beach project, a 40,000 square meter complex in the heart of Doha’s business district, will include six public and private areas with a variety of leisure options, including city beaches, restaurants, and outdoor entertainment. The state-of-the-art beach resort Fuwairit Kite Beach will be ideal for water sport lovers and the perfect atmosphere for surf kiting.
Easing Covid restrictions, the country has loosened its policy, with a vaccination certificate no longer required to enter the country. Visitors only need register for Ehteraz (www.ehteraz.gov.qa) and submit a negative PCR test or a negative rapid antigen test.