The post FIFA Doha travel is all about marvelling at the latest additions to the city’s skyline.
A tapestry of shimmering city lights and gleaming skyscrapers has long captivated urban enthusiasts. However, the rapid transformation of Doha, Qatar, for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, deserves nothing less than a bucket of praise. The finest architects and urban planners converged upon this vibrant city, reshaping its splendour with luxurious developments to beckon visitors from around the globe.
From the moment I stepped out of Hamad International Airport, the seamless journey to my abode offered a glimpse of the city’s unique charm. Amidst the expanse of sandy yellows, manicured green sculptures and whimsical architecture punctuated the landscape. As I ventured closer to the heart of the city, the concrete canvas gave way to a vibrant tapestry of regal buildings adorned with stained glass windows, lively flags fluttering in the wind, and grassy sidewalks that injected a burst of colour into the urban tableau.
It was only fitting that my temporary address, The Ned, exemplified this architectural metamorphosis. The hotel and private club, born out of a renovation and modernization project completed in November 2022, now stands proudly on the foundations of Qatar’s Ministry of Interior, its 1960s sketched Brutalist design paying homage to the city’s past. The Ned spans an impressive 500,000 square feet in a prime location, overlooking the Al Corniche Waterfront and providing a glamorous backdrop to every dining experience.
From the sanctuary of my balcony, my attention was immediately drawn to the grandeur of the Printemps flagship store, as its illuminated Dior sign shimmered amidst the towering heights, serving as a harbinger of the grand presence of Doha Oasis. This remarkable addition to the city skyline houses the Middle East’s largest luxury department store, exquisite restaurants, and a magnificent hotel and residence. Turning my gaze along the Corniche, I could also spot some of the other iconic structures, like The National Museum of Doha, The Ritz Carlton and The Torch, all new additions since late 2022. In the slight distance, overlooking the temporary Stadium 974 felt like a serendipitous fortune to behold.
At every turn, my eyes were met with the latest plantings in the zone. As I embarked on a bus ride to Souq Waqif on my first day, I marvelled at stacks of colourful blocks at the Container Park boasting the newest spots for a quick Middle Eastern feat, which quickly paved the path to the new 4000-seater Education Centre glimmered in shades of gold. The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum showcased intricate models of state-of-the-art stadiums, including the breathtaking Al Bayt Stadium designed by architectural visionary Dar Al-Handasah and the awe-inspiring Al Janoub and Al Thumama Stadiums by the legendary Zaha Hadid.
Enchanted by the beauty across the water at The Pearl, I inquired about the most spectacular art deco building in the vicinity. It turned out to be the recently renovated and reopened St. Regis Hotel, a true testament to the city’s commitment to architectural preservation merged with modern innovation.
Short of an hour’s drive, it was in Lusail, Qatar’s future city where I truly comprehended the scale of the blueprinting boost. The Katara Towers stood tall, with its silhouette resembling the two scimitar swords on Qatar’s national seals. As I peered from the topmost balcony, the gusts of wind strong enough to sway a car and the building’s graceful curvature magnified by its towering height, I marvelled at the seemingly impossible feat of engineering.
Inside, two five-star hotels, Raffles and the Fairmont boast the world’s largest chandelier and a suite-only property with exemplary butler service to match the facade’s opulence. Each establishment offers a lavish experience, complete with rooftop bars and presidential suite balconies that afford breathtaking views of Lusail’s captivating winter wonderland.
Within the waterfront Marina, a dazzling assortment of attractions awaits visitors at the Lusail Winter Wonderland. From a Ferris wheel to winding rollercoaster tracks and towering rides, this idyllic setting provides a playground of entertainment and a feast for the eyes. It is also a paradise for strolling enthusiasts, like myself. In just a brisk 20-minute walk, I discovered over a dozen recently opened establishments, serving a decadent array of global cuisines that delighted the palate and nourished the soul.
While Doha has effortlessly blended history, modernity, and irresistible charm, its true magnificence lies in its successful redefinition as a hub of hip sophistication. My three-day journey through this captivating city was a testament to its boundless energy and unwavering commitment to creating an urban landscape that leaves a lasting impression on every traveller fortunate enough to experience its wonders.