Qatar is a land rooted in tradition and culture. It is popular for having an authentic soul. It is a place where learning from the past informs the contemporary vision.
With all its traditional attractions and modern advancements, Qatar is fast becoming a place where the world comes together. Its multi-cultural demography has ushered in tastes from every corner of the globe.
On the eve of the World Tourism Day, Community approached different ambassadors and diplomats, seeking their point of views about Qatar as a tourism destination.
Belen Alfaro Hernandez, Ambassador of Spain to Qatar, is all praise for different attractions available in the country for the tourists.
About the places she likes, the ambassador said: “There are many wonderful places to visit in Qatar with its spectacular modern buildings and cultural heritage. Doha has been recently named as one of the 7 New Wonder Cities in the World.
“Souq Waqif is a great place for shopping and dining. I like the modern and traditional architecture and culture combined in every part of the city. What I like the most is many museums that Qatar has, such as the Museum of Islamic Art, the best in the world, the Museum of Arab Contemporary Art, a centre for Arab excellence, and the newly opened National Museum of Qatar, which is at the vanguard of its kind, creating a new concept of a museum.”
Ambassador Belen speaks highly of Qatar as a tourist destination. “Hamad International Airport has fast become the global gateway for overseas travellers. Qatar offers true Arabian hospitality with a rich variety of food, safari desert adventure, beaches and dunes. It needs to be mentioned here that Qatar has many attractive sporting events such as the ATP World Tour, which stops in the capital every winter, attracts tennis giants, the Qatar Moto Grand Prix, World Superbikes and Qatar Masters Golf Tournament and much more, including horse racing, camel racing and hunting season for falcon lovers.”
Ivonne A Baki, Ambassador of Ecuador, sees Qatar as a country fast becoming a tourist destination. “It is considered one of the safest tourist destinations in the world, where the tourists are able to observe the generous hospitality which characterises the Arab culture. This has been helped by the remarkable renovation and the establishment of tourism facilities and the giant urban development. Several new sports stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, well-connected metro systems, trams in smaller areas, new hotels, new interchanges and highways and other infrastructural projects will definitely boost tourism.
No-one can overlook the efforts of the authorities in offering visa facilitation that allowed the visitors’ entry to Qatar. I can say that the Ecuadorian Government is extremely interested to open more channels between Qatar and Ecuador and has great plans for co-operation to bring more Ecuadorian tourists to Qatar.”
Ambassador Ivonne, who has been in Qatar for two years, believes the life style here has made her active and energetic. “If I would speak or recommend some landmarks to visit in Qatar, I would mention Souq Wagif – a place where you can view Qatar’s identity and traditions with its beautiful ancient-style buildings and alleys, mud-rendered shops that sell traditional garments, food and spices, and restaurants of different types of cuisines.
“I have to also mention the museums, one of the best is the new National Museum of Qatar, which is a distinctive architectural masterpiece, telling the unique story of the Qatari people from earliest era to the present day. Katara - the Cultural Village is also one of the venues that gathers Arab heritage, art and music. There are many other places that deserve to be viewed such as Qatar National Library, Banana Island, the Pearl and Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum.”
Faizel Moosa, Ambassador of South Africa to Qatar, also speaks highly about the diversity at Souq Waqif – blending traditional and contemporary trends. “I have been here for two years and try to visit as many places as possible. The souq is one of my favourite destinations. You get a chance to see traditional and modern Qatar besides meeting people from diverse backgrounds. I always take my guests there for dinner. They get a chance to see the multiculturalism of Qatar.
“I also love being to Banana Island. I spend wonderful quality family time there. Being an outdoor person, I love going to the sea and desert. I enjoy desert safari and dune bashing with my family.”
The ambassador has been putting all his efforts to increase bilateral tourism with Qatar. “I have been at the forefront of the efforts to further the cause of tourism in both countries. As Qatar offers excellent tourist sites and sporting events – 2022 FIFA World Cup, I encourage South Africans to visit the country. On the other hand, my country offers exciting tourist attractions – mainly wildlife safari. We have made the visa process very easy for Qatari nationals and will also make it easier for residents of Qatar.”
Though Kithsiri Athulathmudali, Ambassador of Sri Lanka, is new to Qatar, he sees a lot of attraction for visitors in the country. “I have been here only for eight weeks. However, I have visited different dining areas, including Souq Waqif. I like the souq for its traditional offerings and the variety of dining options. I was happy to see people from different cultures converging at one place.”
He added: “I see a lot of tourism potential in the country that offers excellent modern structures and traditional ways of lie.”
Noelia Paolo Romero, wife of the Ambassador of Argentina and an active member of the international diplomatic community in Qatar, is all praise for QNL. “The best place I have visited in Doha is the Qatar National Library. It is simply one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve seen in my life, and believe me, I know about libraries, since I’m a proud bookworm. All the facilities are incredible: the study rooms, the computer labs, and the amazing innovation stations.
She added: “There are simply so many amazing places to visit in so many areas! Besides all the sports events taking place, now that winter is coming, we can all go out and enjoy those beautiful and huge parks, and walking through Katara and Souq Waqif.”
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