Doha shines like a jewel in the desert, a city that sprawls for miles across the hot Qatari sand, a unique mix of old and new.

Picturesque seaside parks stand alongside decades-old markets, their interiors filled with the strong scents of spices, fragrances, and the cooking of majboos (slow-cooked lamb and rice) and warak enab (seasoned beef or lamb with rice wrapped in vine leaves).

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Across the bay, skyscrapers reach to the clouds, like a collection of steel and glass-wrapped statues of every shape and size. Along the freeway, houses, apartments, and buildings of all sorts go up at a rapid rate; the construction industry is evidently booming in Doha. Further north of the Financial District, large resorts burst into view, finding space on land claimed from the sea. This is where I find The Pearl of Doha, an artificial island where my hotel – the Marsa Malaz Kempinski is situated.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Doha is not just the new hotspot destination in the Middle East, it is also the host of FIFA World Cup 2022™, a milestone in the history of the event as it is the first time the football showcase will be hosted in this region. In 2019 when I visited, the city was already well on its way to developing its 8 stadiums; and touring some of them made me realise the unique vision of this FIFA World Cup™.

With the entire tournament centered in and around Doha city; the benefits to fans are enormous. No longer will you need to wait days between watching matches, in 2022 you’ll be able to watch 2 or 3 matches a day. A world class underground rail network takes visitors from one stadium to the next, while above ground public transport is as excellent as you can imagine.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Arriving in Doha is a breeze; the airport is exceptional – it was voted the Best Airport in the World in the 2021 Skytrax World Airport Awards and is both efficient and inspirational. I arrived at 1am straight into the hot Doha air, to enjoy a streamlined trip via taxi to my hotel. South Africans will enjoy traveling to Doha. Direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg take you straight into Qatar, at around 9 hours flying time; flying Qatar Airlines was also a delight – the airline takes comfort and service to another level.

We spent some time exploring the city of Doha, with some areas a particular highlight for me. Arriving at the Souq Waqif you’ll think you’ve died and gone to shopping heaven. Spices, perfumes, clothing, and embroidery are most prevalent, but you’ll also find homeware, a huge selection dedicated to plastics and even hardware, and even a live animal and pet market!

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Strolling along the Corniche – a beautiful waterfront promenade that extends for 7km, I experienced the iconic view of Doha’s Financial District. The bay glistens in the bright November sunlight, and the traditional gulf yachts float quietly on the water. Runners, cyclists, dog walkers and families with toddlers and prams wander along; the noon dhuhr (call to prayer) sounds in the distance.

Fans of soccer, and of travel, will find this city one for the senses: visually it’s so arresting, with the variety of skyscrapers, malls, mosques, and historical buildings abounding. There is the usual city buzz: taxis, hooters and people calling to one another – and there is the heat of the desert, the warm afternoon breezes, the soft sand of the beaches, the sand-coloured horizon.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

We have no doubt that FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ is going to open up Doha to the world, in an incredible mix of football, culture, fandom and travel experiences.

If you’re looking to book your trip to Qatar, contact Edusport now or send us a WhatsApp message to start your travel plans.

Edusport is appointed as Joint Exclusive Sales Agent of MATCH Hospitality in South Africa for the sale of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Official Hospitality Programme.

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