5 Things To Do In Qatar During The FIFA World Cup 2022
5 Things To Do In Qatar During FIFA World Cup, 2022

The ultimate guide to spending an incredible World Cup season at this year’s host country

Like other destinations in the Middle East, Qatar might not jump out of the page as an out-and-out vacation destination. In fact, on my first morning in Doha, some people tell me how it’s often treated as a ‘stopover’ for those travelling. I don’t see it, I retort. There’s an appropriate amount of bustle, city culture, beaches, and yet, a sense of calm as life goes on — it’s definitely a destination to explore. 


Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022, a first for the country, and they’ve left no stone unturned to make sure there’s enough to experience beyond football. So, if you’ve booked your tickets for the matches and are now in the ‘Google what to do in Qatar mode’, look no further. 


From where to stay and eat, to what to do and see, we got you covered. 


Stay In Luxurious Hotels



I open my balcony at the Ritz-Carlton Doha to the view of the Doha skyline — blue shades of the Arabian Gulf take your breath away during the day, while city lights shine bright at night. This luxury property deems fit as a comfortable stay option, and the hotel has rooms and suites with the city, sea, or pool view, so take your pick.  



For gourmands, another luxury stay choice is The St. Regis Doha — the hotel houses the contemporary Chinese restaurant Hakkasan — if you want to make sure there’s a familiar choice to go back to when you don’t want to explore food. A new hotel that has opened this year (among many, I told you they’ve not left any stone unturned) is Le Royal Méridien Doha in Lusail — a 377-room hotel that has all the luxury that a hotel can offer. The Katara Towers are also said to soon see Fairmont Doha and Raffles Doha, and Andaz Doha is said to come up in the West Bay, but at the time of writing, these were yet to be open to the public.  


Get Your Adrenaline Rush



Did you know that Qatar’s wind is suitable for kitesurfing? I mean, I didn’t, and then I find myself watching a kitesurfer have the time of his life at the Fuwairit Kite Surfing Beach Resort, a first of its kind in Qatar. The resort is an hour and 20 minutes north of Doha by road, and while kitesurfing is its highlight, you can also try turtle hatching, paddle boarding, and other water sports.  


If camping is your idea of fun, Umm Bab, also known as the Palm Tree Beach on Qatar’s western coast, makes for a great camping destination. Here, you can swim, stay, and enjoy a night of stargazing. Most matches are in the evening, so another way to make good use of your day is to go dune bashing in Khor Al Udaid — there are tours that’ll take you over the vast stretches of sand dunes (pick a tour; doing it by yourself is not recommended). 


A rides and slides kind of person? Qatar’s Desert Falls Water And Adventure Park is meant for you. A whopping 57,000 square metre park at the heart of Salwa Beach with over 56 rides and 18 attractions — for both kids and adults — it’s one of the largest theme parks in the entire Middle East. Head for go-karting on the desert street circuit, or explore the first man-made canyoning adventure in the Middle East (also only the third of its kind in the world). Indoor or outdoors, a matchless break day can easily be spent here with your buddies. 


Eat And Explore



Qatar is home to traditional Arabic cuisine — meaty grills, rice, and spices are an integral part of the food. However, Doha has a healthy mix of quintessentially Qatari fare and global cuisines. I try some authentic food, as well as take a sneak peek at the global restaurants. Let’s start with the melting pot of cuisines from all over the world: Souq Waqif. The souq (market) has everything from Ethiopian, Turkish, and Georgian cuisines to Iraqi, Pakistani, and European options — so you literally don’t need to repeat a cuisine for any meal. 


I stumble upon Nakhchivan, a restaurant serving Azerbaijani cuisine, and decide to make that my dinner spot. A two-storied, intimate restaurant with a menu serving different Arabic delights as well as a separate list of authentic Azerbaijani dishes. Start with the moutabel, a Middle Eastern dip made using eggplant and olive oil, which is slightly creamier than baba ghanoush. For a hot appetiser, the gutab with cheese — Azerbaijani style lavash with hard cheese and herbs — will be soft, hot, and slightly heavy, but worth it. However, the king of the meal here is the shah pilaf — cooked rice with lamb placed inside a bowl lined with lavash, layered with dried fruits such as apricot, raisin, and a sprinkle of hazelnuts or chestnuts. The pilaf is then baked with the lavash covering it, and then cut into like a cake — which was historically done to signify that it is the main dish at a wedding ceremony, and the method ensures the pilaf is hot and steamy. I discover a dish I knew nothing about, and savour it for its story. 



For a luxurious Levantine meal, head to Bayt El Talleh in the Katara Cultural Village — not just for the meal, but also for the view of Katara south hills from this beautiful outdoorsy setting. Indulge in beetroot salad, and various types of hummus with plenty of warm pita to complement it, alongside potato kubbeh, hot falafels, grilled meat platters with lamb and chicken options.  


Trying Qatari food is obvious, so head to Msheireb to eat at Saasna — their specials are worth checking out. Start with a refreshing saasna salad with avocado, slices of oranges, green crunchy beans, salad leaves, all topped with sesame. Chicken majbous will be the ultimate main course — a big portion of chicken served on a bed of rice with dried fruits, nuts, and exotic spices — one dish is good for a person, so everyone gets their own. Don’t miss out on flaky French toast kunafa, their take on the classic Middle Eastern dish, knafeh. My favourite thing about all the meals in the Middle East is that they end with coffee. I take a swig of Turkish coffee with a couple of dates thrice a day, unapologetically.  



Here’s something really cool. Doha is highlighting international dining options featuring cuisines from nations competing at FIFA according to the groups of countries playing. An example: If it’s group B, which is England, Iran, USA, and Wales, then those supporting England can stop by The Red Lion Doha for a traditional pub-like atmosphere and match screenings. For Iran, Parisa in Souq Waqif is the ideal place to sample much-loved Iranian specialities. American food lovers can head to Boston’s, Ted’s American Diners, Applebee’s, Public House Doha, among other options, while those in favour of Wales can go to STK Doha for their excellent lamb shanks. Food in Qatar, especially during football season, is an adventure in itself, clearly. 


Explore Art And Culture



For discoverers of art and culture on foot, there’s so much to explore in Qatar’s offerings. Head to Souq Waqif for a long stroll and a cuppa, and check out this market with its many shops, tiny establishments, and its alleys — believe me, it’s intriguing. On the same stretch, is the falcon souq (the national bird of Qatar), where you can see falcons, and even hold one, or just buy souvenirs. Trinkets and fridge magnets and the usual touristy souvenirs aside, Souq Waqif has enough spots from where you can pick a Qatari dress, local handicrafts, spices, perfumes, or chocolates. Don’t miss the Arabic coffee carts, they will remind you of our precious cutting chai, with their small paper cups of coffee. 


While that’s on foot, you can take a cruise and see Doha’s skyline by hopping onto the traditional dhow boat through the waters of the Arabian Gulf, and see all the stunning views of Doha’s major tourist spots while enjoying refreshments and music. Very gram-worthy, I must add. 



Next on the list is the Museum of Islamic Art, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei, which stands proudly near the Corniche, and is a marvel for those who enjoy a historic touch to their vacation. Traditional Islamic patterns such as domes, arches, and water features welcome you as you walk in, and the museum has collections spanning over 14,000 years and three continents, which include ceramics, jewellery, textiles, woodwork, and metalwork, to look at. The museum has four floors of permanent and temporary exhibitions, a café, and a restaurant by chef Alan Ducasse, while also housing a heritage library with a collection of 21,000 books. Nerd alert in the most fun way. 


Even non-enthusiasts of sport will enjoy the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, which is one of the world’s most innovative sports museums. Almost all sports are represented via interactive exhibits, artefacts, and activity areas, showcasing how passionate the destination is about sports, and thus, connecting to why FIFA has finally gotten there. Pick up cool FIFA merchandise — you’ll find T-shirts, jackets and keychains. Thank me later. 


There’s a lot to do even if you’re not into going to museums or centres. To pump up your day with a view like no other, take a morning stroll along the four-mile Corniche. Explore Msheireb Downtown (you can plan this for when you want to lunch at Saasna), get a cuppa at EL&N, and shop to your heart’s content at Msheireb Galleria for all your favourite international brands. Head to Katara Cultural Village, and spend some time at the public beach where you can just sit and soak in the sun. Or, try speed boat rides, knee boarding, and water skiing. Take a walk at the Katara Hills and enjoy the view of the village and the sea beyond. Savour some kadak chai and chapati, or head to Tasty Street for bites on the go.   


Relax, Unwind, Repeat



Qatar has upped its luxury wellness quotient in a big way, which is clear from the various wellness resorts and properties solely meant for luxe TLC. In fact, if you take my suggestion and choose to stay at the Ritz-Carlton, the hotel’s spa has a signature experience called the Desert Cooler, which uses cooling aromatherapy blends to help ease off the heat of Qatar. If you want to go for an all-out wellness resort, head to Sharq Village & Spa. The resort has 23 treatment rooms and four spa areas, each inspired by an element of local heritage. Add to that sauna and hammam rooms, and a private area just for the ladies.



If your idea of wellness goes beyond spa therapy and relies on connecting with nature, 30 minutes from Doha West Bay lies Heenat Salma, an eco-conscious farm for those who want to try a more mindful wellness method. The farm offers yoga and meditation workshops, as well as other artful forms of therapy, so when you have days in between matches, this is a great way to find some disconnect. 


You may be headed there for football, but Qatar can be a vacay like no other. Sun, sea, sand, and the city, all are valid choices. What are you adding to your itinerary? 




  • India is no longer on the red list for Qatar, so it’s ‘visa on arrival’ for Indians. However, hotel reservations need to be booked for the entire duration of your stay with Discover Qatar. 
  • For the duration of the FIFA World Cup 2022, there’ll be no standard visas issued for the travel period between November 1, 2022, and January 23, 2023. Instead, you must have an approved Hayya Card to enter Qatar, which is an entry permit that you will also need to present at the stadium along with your match ticket. The Hayya Card can be used to get access to free public transport as well. 


  • Download the Ehteraz app — a Covid-19 tracing app — that you will be required to show to enter closed public spaces, such as hotels, malls, and restaurants. 


  • The latest update on Covid tests is that Qatar has scrapped the mandatory pre-arrival RT PCR test for travellers from November 1, when Qatar will be closed to anyone without a Hayya card.  
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