RICH in culture, natural beauty, and a vibrant atmosphere, Qatar offers the best of the Middle East all in one place. Now open to tourists and with visa-free arrival for Australians and New Zealanders, there is no better time to travel via this ultimate stopover destination, discovers Myles Stedman.

Qatar offers the best of the Middle East, all in one place. All images ©Qatar Tourism.

AS THE world re-emerges to tourism, Qatar Airways has partnered with Discover Qatar to offer a new range of stopover packages.

Anticipating the return of international travel for Australians, and the opportunity to stopover in Qatar when flying with Qatar Airways, the country is focusing on becoming the “World’s Best Value Stopover”, with packages consisting of an up-to four-night stay in Doha.

Arrive in style

HAVING been voted the “World’s Best” Airline for the sixth time in 2021, Qatar Airways will continue to get clients to their destination safely and in comfort. With leading airline bio-security protocols and hygiene measures, there is peace of mind when flying with Qatar Airways.

Those who like to travel in style can do so with the airline’s award-winning Qsuite product, which provides Business Class suites with doors, ambient mood lighting, lie-flat beds and generous storage space. The pod-style Qsuite provides ultimate privacy and safety, minimising interactions with other passengers.

It is also the airline’s first-ever cabin to offer aft- and forward-facing seats, thanks to its quad-configuration. When travelling with family and friends, movable panels will allow you to transform your space into a social area, changing where you can dine or socialise at 40,000 feet. When you wish to relax or sleep, the space transforms back into a private room.

The Discover the Dunes & Inland Sea trip is an optional add-on to the stopover deals.

A destination for all

ON ARRIVAL, Qatar’s comprehensive stopover packages span across hotels in four- and five-star categories, with optional add-ons including breakfast, airport transfers, and activities. These include the Discover the Dunes & Inland Sea trip, where the desert spills into the azzure waters of the Arabian peninsula, and the Discover Doha tour, which immerses travellers in the unique heritage of the country’s capital, through the alleyways of Souq Waqif, Katara Cultural Village, and the Pearl-Qatar.

For those with a bit more time who want to focus on their specific interests in Qatar, there are a range of themed stopover packages available.

Shopping enthusiasts can peruse luxury brands in what is quickly becoming one of the world’s top destinations for boutiques, with its range of grand and unique malls including Galeries Lafayette and Place Vendome, which feature high-end brands and select fashion labels.

For art and culture lovers, the country offers awe-inspiring architecture, world-class museums, and cuisine ranging from local and traditional Middle Eastern fare to modern and international gastronomy.

Rich in culture, Qatar offers awe-inspiring architecture.

Sports-lovers can experience the nation’s world-class golf courses, or if you’re after a more up-tempo stay can experience the world-class scuba diving, desert safaris, sandboarding, and dune bashing on offer.

Other featured stopover experiences include exploration of Qatar’s expansive coastline with more than 20 sandy beaches, which position the destination as a watersports and nature lovers paradise.

From April to November, visitors can encounter one of the largest and rarest congregations of whale sharks in the world. Whale sharks can be spotted on a cruise, and for travellers who love being out on the water, there are also many dhow sailings to become immersed in the nation’s history.

Dhow boats have been cruising the waters of the Arabian Gulf for centuries, so a cruise is an ideal way to soak up Qatar’s rich history.

More than a stopover

HOWEVER, Qatar is more than just a stopover. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in the country, making it the first Muslim and Arab nation to host the event.

The announcement of the World Cup in 2010 drew a significantly greater amount of attention to the internal work being done within the country’s tourism industry, which at its heart, aims to offer the best of the Middle East all in one place, and finished with the region’s patented hospitality.

The country offers a diverse range of activities and a varied itinerary for every type of trip or traveller.

Those who are seeking the sun need look no further, with Qatar offering 563 kilometres of coastline and a myriad of beaches without a dress code, many of which are privately owned by the country’s hotels and resorts.

Qatar has an ever-expanding selection of gourmet dining.

Travellers who prefer to spend their time in the water rather than on the shore can get up close to the country’s marine life. Fishing, sailing, water skiing, canoeing, kitesurfing, jet skiing, and windsurfing are all popular, but one cannot miss out on kayaking through Al Thakira mangroves, and greeting some of the local flamingos.

Qatar is also rich in Arabian tradition and heritage, offering cultural diversity like no other country in the region. Souq Waqif — Arabic for “the standing market” – sells traditional garments, spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It is also home to restaurants and hookah lounges. Although it was renovated in 2006, the original building dates back at least from the 20th century and is designed in a traditional Qatari architectural style.

Once you’re done checking out how modern Qatar took shape, check out how the country itself was formed at Dhal Al Misfir cavern, a natural landmark located west of Doha. At 40 metres deep, it is one of the largest and deepest accessible caves in the country. Formed largely of fibrous gypsum, it sometimes gives off a faint, otherworldly glow, just in case you’d forgotten you were in one of the world’s most unique destinations.

Qatar offers adventure options for all levels, from world class scuba diving to desert safaris.

Experience Qatar

Those who wish to experience the destination first-hand can become a Qatar expert and win one of four spots on next year’s famil.

To enter, become stopover ready by:

Completing three essential modules of the Tawash online destination training HERE.

Travel agents must also ensure their agency is signed up to the Discover Qatar booking portal HERE.

Explain why a stopover in Qatar is so unforgettable.

Enter now to discover why Qatar is the ultimate stopover destination. CLICK HERE to enter. Competition terms and conditions apply.