As the 2022 FIFA World Cup is moving towards its finals, Qatar’s tour agencies are hoping the event can boost the country’s attractiveness among holidaymakers around the world.
Most people are familiar with the modern metropolitan landscape of Doha, the Qatari capital city. But in the southern part of Qatar, about an hour’s drive from the capital, sightseers and adventurists will be captivated by the beauty of nature — the immense desert and the remarkable Inland Sea.
For those seeking some adrenaline rush, a thrilling dune bashing experience of maneuvering cars at varying speeds over sand dunes will be a must-do activity during the length of their stay in Qatar.
For travelers who prefer tranquility, they can camp in the desert during the winter months. For more traditional fun, people can also enjoy a camel ride and a stunning view where the desert meets sea.
“A lot of activities can be done. The place is kind of like a national park. People come here for camping. We have the Inland Sea alongside, people come for swimming, people come like dune buggies. I mean, like it’s really a place people can just be free around anywhere,” said Muhammad Wazir, who operates a tour company that specializes in desert activities.
Qatar hopes the world cup spotlight can help the country establish itself as a tourist destination.
“When it comes to the World Cup, for us, there always was the opportunity to springboard. A springboard to showcase Qatar. I think post tournament, the intention will actually shift more on tourism and what is needed to make tourism successful and to make tourism grow,” said Berthold Trenkel, chief operating officer of Qatar Tourism.
Putting aside the COVID-19 pandemic, Qatar attracts roughly two million tourists each year. But the country hopes to expand that to some six million people a year by 2030.
“We hope the 5 billion people that are sitting at home and watching the matches hopefully will see some of the images of other sides of Qatar, will get interested and see that this place is something special. There is a conscious choice in what type of tourism is suitable for Qatar, and ensuring we’re not looking just after volume, but we’re looking more for quality of tourism,” said Trenkel.