This month, Qatar is set to welcome more than 1.2 million visitors – all arriving to the Gulf country to be part of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
As well as delivering 64 football matches featuring 32 countries across eight venues in five different Qatari cities (all located within a 55km radius of capital city Doha), the country is offering visitors an array of experiences, attractions and new venues and hotspots – from five-star hotels and unique beach clubs to Michelin-starred restaurants. pop-up lounges and music festivals.
This marks a major milestone in Qatar’s emergence as a tourist destination, with the country set to welcome six million visitors a year by 2030.
With anticipation for the Qatar World Cup reaching fever pitch, we highlight 16 new (and old) hotspots for visitors.
1 Waldorf Astoria Doha arrives
Doha’s newest hotel has opened its five-star doors just in time for the World Cup. Located in Lusail (Qatar’s Entertainment City), just 20 minutes from the airport, The Waldorf Astoria Lusail, Doha is home to three swimming pools, a surf club, the Middle East’s first Espa Life spa, and its very own water park, complete with slides, rides, and a water adventure trail. The beachfront property (think 200m of private shoreline) takes the city’s culinary offerings to new heights with celebrity favourite SushiSamba (think Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine), hip New York-born Italian restaurant Scarpetta, wellness-focused Wyld Erth and super-exclusive London’s members-only club The Highmore.
2 Famed afterparty Amber Lounge will pop up
After more than two decades as the world’s most exclusive VIP afterparty at key Formula 1 destinations around the world (Singapore, Monaco, Abu Dhabi), Amber Lounge is taking an ultra-luxe pop-up party to Doha, Qatar for a month. Taking place at the palatial Le Royal Meridien hotel, from 27 November to 18 December, the Amber Lounge Qatar will deliver an array of international artistes and world-class entertainment, including theatrical cabaret and cirque-themed performances. Among the stellar lineup of stars, English electronic music duo Basement Jaxx; Grammy award-winning hip-hop and R&B artist DJ Jazzy Jeff; American rapper and producer Lil Jon; popular live drum act The Stickmen Project; French national football player turned DJ Djibril Cisse; and Latin American DJ duo Le Twins. Guests can choose from an array of table packages, including Diamond Suites and Amber Suites comprising private booths with VIP table service.
3 Al Maha Island – Zuma and supercars
Launching this month, Al Maha Island Lusail will deliver six fine-dining restaurants and clubs – including modern Japanese restaurant and bar Zuma (Zuma Dubai is of the world’s 50 best bars) and ultra-glam entertainment nightclub Billionaire. The island also features Lusail Winter Wonderland, which brings festive winter magic to the Middle East (entertainment, games, rides, ice-skating) and Al Maha Drive, a unique driveway experience just for supercars and classic cars. The island will host a range of concerts and performances throughout the World Cup.
4 Fuwaiirit Kite Beach – one of the world’s best kitesurfing secrets
Claiming to be ‘one of the world’s best kitesurfing secrets’ – until now – Qatar’s recently opened lifestyle resort Fuwairit Kite Beach is a paradise built on a passion by kitesurfers for kitesurfers. Part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, this brand-new resort is as its name suggests nestled along a beach that is home to the ideal conditions for kite-surfing – a natural lagoon on Qatar’s northern coast with consistent winds, ideal ocean conditions and powder-soft sand. And it’s just an hour’s drive north of Doha. The state-of-the-art resort has been designed around the kitesurfer’s lifestyle, giving guests everything needed on the water, as well as also delivers dining outlets, a fitness centre, pool and other water activities.
5 FIFA Fan Festival – football fun
Located at Al Bidda Park, the FIFA Fan Festival gives football fans the chance to watch every match live on huge screens that is set to host up to 40,000 people. Alongside screenings of the live matches, the park will host stage performances, eateries, and cultural activities.
6 Music festivals – Arcadia Spectacular / Daydream Festival
Scheduled to be held near Ras Bu Fontas metro station and with space for up to 15,000 visitors, Arcadia will feature more than 100 international artists and 50 regional talents – performing across three stages. Meanwhile, the Daydream Festival at Doha Golf Club will feature an array of artists including Jonas Blue, Paul Van Dyk, Armin Van Buuren, Alesso, Alok, and Timmy Trumpet.
7 Cruise ships – MSC World Europa
Among three cruise ships scheduled to reach Doha Port this month, the MSC World Europa, a new five-star ship with six swimming pools, an array of dining options, a spa and shopping areas. The ship is offering a two-night minimum stay and is joined by two other ships, the 1,075-cabin MSC Opera and the four-star MSC Poesia, the latter featuring three swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, a cinema and more.
8 Regency Sealine Camp – desert camp
Though renowned for its extravagant five-star hotels, Qatar is also home to more rustic, unique places to stay. Sitting in the heart of the desert, 67km south of Doha, the Regency Sealine Camp delivers a collection of tents, rooms, and suites set within a secluded desert landscape surrounded by waters. Guests can still enjoy the luxuries of free wifi, room service, and en-suite bathrooms, but more importantly, get to enjoy desert-based adventures z– from dune bashing with 4x4 vehicles to desert paragliding, camel rides and falcon shows.
9 Football exhibitions
The World of Football exhibition at 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum will celebrate the occasion with an exhibition split over two halves. Football for All, All for Football will examine the universal and global appeal of football, while The Road to Doha will take visitors on a journey from the first FIFA World Cup matches in Uruguay in 1930, to the final at the Lusail Stadium on 18 December 2022. In the Doha Design District, visitors will find an exhibition dedicated to Diego Maradona memorabilia – covering Maradona’s sportive feats with Argentinos Juniors, Boca Junior, Barcelona, Naples, Newell’s Old Boys, Sevilla and the Argentina National Team, including his first shirt dating back to 1969. The collections feature jerseys, unpublished photos, exclusive videos and a virtual experience.
10 Souq Wafiq – open 24 hours
Doha’s oldest Souq, located in the heart of the capital’s old downtown, Souq Wafiq has always been one of Qatar’s most popular landmarks, showcasing the country’s heritage, culture and traditions. During the month of the World Cup, the marketplace – which boasts traditional shops and restaurants offering everything from spices and shawls to shisha and shawarma, as well as falconry displays – will turn into the Souq that never sleeps with all shops and restaurants permitted to stay open 24/7.
11 The Ned Doha – stylish stayover
One of London and New York’s most exclusive hotels and private members’ clubs, The Ned opens inside the former Ministry of Interior building along the Doha Corniche this month. The hotel will be home to 90 rooms and 12 suites, with spectacular views of the Persian Sea, seven restaurants, a gym, spa and pool with cabanas, as well as the Members-Only Club. Delivering a style that is all ‘70s-inspired glam, this outpost will also house a mini museum featuring works from 150 artists, while the ground-floor atrium will host an array of live performances.
12 947 Beach Club – cool club vibe
Located next to the iconic 974 Stadium, the new 947 Beach Club will feature an all-encompassing beachside experience with water-based activities, beach sports, luxury retail outlets, eateries, a big screen, live DJ sets and other cultural activities and entertainment.
13 Museum of Islamic Art
Qatar’s iconic Museum of Islamic Art reopened last month following a year-long renovation project where its permanent collection of more than 1,000 objects has been re-imagined – creating a new visitor-focused layout and storyline.
14 Corinthia Yacht Club
When Corinthia Yacht Club opens this month, it will become Qatar’s first-ever invitation-only private members’ club. Located on The Pearl-Qatar, this soon-to-open private club offers invitation-only membership (a first for Qatar) and will be home to Kai’s Songbird, an elevated fine-dining experience by the coveted Michelin-starred restaurant Kai Mayfair, London. Among other highlights, a cigar lounge, climatised outdoor seating, and meeting rooms.
15 Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar by Tivoli – local vibes
For those wanting to soak up the Arabic vibe, stay at the Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar by Tivoli, a luxury heritage-inspired property with old-world charm located in the seaside district of Al Wakra, just 14km from Doha and 9km from the airport. The hotel features former heritage houses, while the restaurants and lounges serve Arabic cuisine. Its sister property, Souq Wafiq Boutique Hotels by Tivoli, delivers the same local vibe but is located in the heart of the historic Souq Waqif, just 15 minutes from the airport and a 10-minute walk from the Museum of Islamic Art.
16 Nusr-Et Steakhouse – meat-eater’s paradise
Renowned for his love of beef, salt and showmanship, celebrity butcher chef Nusret Gokce (aka Salt Bae) opened his signature Nusr-Et Steakhouse at The Sheraton Grand Doha more decade ago and it’s still going strong. The showman chef now has 22 outposts worldwide and has welcomed everyone from P Diddy and Lionel Messi to Mark Wahlberg and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan. Expect lashings of meat (steaks, beef, lamb) cooked to your preference, including the thick-boned, ribeye Ottoman steak which tips the scales at 1.1kg and the famed thousand-dollar gold tinfoil-coated tomahawk steak.