When heading on a Qatar trip, it’s easy to imagine you’ll be seeing an idealized version of the Middle East as it was written about in the nineteenth-century. Modern-day Qatar has very little in common with that sort of vision of an imagined Arabia, but there are some nuggets of truth to some of them, Qatar having its share of hints to such ideas. There are rock carvings that testify human endurance against the adversities of nature, the ruins of forts that hint to long-gone empires and the occasional glimpse of goat-hair Bedouin tents which reflect their still-nomadic lifestyle.
Qatar has spent both its energies and its considerable fortunes to eschew that somewhat entrenched stereotype. To this end, Doha has built huge vertical ‘pleasure domes’ of postmodern influences so as to prove that the country is as Western or as international as any other.
Recently though, developments like the Al-Sharq Village Resort & Spa are proclaiming to be ‘genuinely Arabic’, the Al-Waqif souq features ‘antique’ passageways and the tented accommodation in Khor al-Adaid comes with air-conditioning.
Qatar appears to be reinventing itself to be both Arabic as well as Western and this is nothing but wonderful to visitors who get to see what they should know is an imagined and sanitized idea of Arabia.
For the un-sanitized, real part of Arabia is the Al-Shahaniya desert where you can see camels roaming and camel racing in a purpose-built stadium for the event.
Al-Zubara is an important place in local history having been a very active and large commercial region in the 18th century. All that remains now is a fort which has been restored and converted into the Al-Zubara Regional Museum.
One of the best ways of seeing this country is by employing some Qatar car hire services because roadways are not a problem.