The Doha airport is relatively new and, by all accounts, I had no interest in really ever visiting Qatar. For the most part the only time it ever even came into my radar was from reports on the rough labor conditions for building the World Cup facilities.
That said, the only flights I found to Nepal included two 13 hour layovers in Doha so one does what one must do to pass the hours. This airport is the only one I have personally been to that has a full hotel exclusively inside the transfer terminal for long layovers. It was fully booked too which also surprised me. It also offers a spa with some lovely showers and a hot tub which was very welcome and produced photos too sexy for this blog or even the internet.
The main attraction is the airport tours thought. Depending on the time of day and the duration of your stay you can visit some of Doha’s primary tourist sites without a visa. Granted, some of the stop-offs were only for 10ish minutes but how much time can you really stare at a building anyway?
In addition to skylines you also make stops at The Pearl, which is a man made island which is a cool concept but once you’re there it just seemed like any other rich neighborhood. Lots of high end shopping with very few people.
This somewhat brings up the “fun fact” our guide mentioned about how there’s only 12% locals living in Doha and 88% immigrant labor. That somewhat speaks to the article I mentioned at the start of the article as well.
You also visit a mosque which you must have the standard appropriate attire to entire.
The most interesting tour stop was easily Souq Waqif which is a market area reminiscent to the ones I’ve seen in Turkey and Bosnia. It’s good to wander around and the food options are delicious. You also get more time to actually explore here.
The bird market caught me off guard too and in a “I’m not sure how much I like this” sort of way because it reminded me of a crappy pet store and I’m still not sure of its use.
As interesting and worth it as the airport tour was(It came out to only about 10 USD per person for this almost 3 hour tour) the best part of it was meeting fellow layover friends. Everyone seemed to be stuck in a long layover here and hearing about other peoples travels is a big source of entertainment for me. They also managed to sneak us into the airport lounge which(thankfully) did have unlimited beer available.
Overall Doha is a great layover spot and it’s easy to kill time. I’m not sure about a full fledged vacation location but I would have like to visit the Islamic museum as I have heard good things. Take from this experience what you will and you can decide if you think it is a good use of time.