By T+L Staff
Jul 21, 2021
A SPARKLING PENINSULA IN THE PERSIAN GULF, Qatar is now allowing visitors fully vaccinated with certain approved vaccines to enter the country without quarantine. Having divided up the rest of the world based on Covid risk, Qatar allows non-vaccinated arrivals from green-listed countries to do “home quarantine” for five days. Passport-holders of nearly half of the globe’s nations are eligible to visit visa-free. (See our guide to the rules below.)
A controlled reopening is part of Qatar’s push to regain their pre-pandemic upward momentum in becoming a major player in tourism. The past generation has seen the country thoroughly reinvent itself, and far from just being a transit hub (though futuristic Hamad International Airport is the definition of smooth-sailing), Qatar has become a destination in its own right for culture vultures, adventurers, luxury travelers, spa retreaters and sports enthusiasts.
Courtesy of Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som (2)
This year promises the opening of Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som, a high-end retreat offering traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine with a holistic health and wellbeing philosophy. It will be the first international expansion of renowned Thai wellness resort Chiva-Som, joining in Qatar another Thailand-based brand with a strong spa offering, Anantara, which runs Banana Island Resort Doha.
Next year brings FIFA World Cup 2022, the first World Cup in history that a host country has pledged to make carbon neutral. As part of that promise, one of the main venues, waterfront Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, will be made of 974 (Qatar’s country code) recycled-steel shipping containers and be the first World Cup stadium ever built with the explicit purpose of being taken apart after the event.
“The 40,000-seater venue can be dismantled in full and transported to be built again in a different country; or you could build two 20,000-seater venues,” Mohammed Al Atwan, project manager for Ras Abu Aboud told CNN. “Really, all parts can be donated to countries in need of sporting infrastructure. This is the beauty of the stadium — the legacy opportunities are endless.”
What else is there to do? The Museum of Islamic Art, designed by I.M. Pei, is iconic both for its nouveau-traditional architecture and the fascinating collection inside. Get lost in the maze-like Souq Waqif standing market; spot flamingoes while kayaking in the Al Thakira mangroves; zoom up, down and across the inland sea of sand dunes; and promenade the Doha Corniche or take a dhow boat ride for fantastic views of the capital’s ultramodern skyline.
With clear skies and excellent visibility, Qatar is also great for astrotourism. Earlier this year the tourism board launched a portfolio of magical star-gazing experiences, including glamping in the desert in a royal Arabian-style tent.
Here’s our handy checklist to help you plan a Qatar adventure today:
For the complete arrival rules and regulations, see the Qatar Tourism guide to reopening and the Qatar Ministry of Public Health’s Covid website.