Demystifying Doha

When I first learnt about my next travel I was not sure how to react about it. It gave me quite mixed feelings from the point of view of a solo female traveler, had multiple thoughts running on my mind and at the same time was excited about travelling to a Gulf country.

When I gave this news to my mom, her immediate reaction was – “You better pack your “salwar kameez” as women in Qatar are covered from the head to the toe”. And I certainly paid no attention to it. I started asking my friends who are frequent travelers but didn’t hear back anything apart from statements such as – Couldn’t I pick a different city?? The last thing I did was, dropped a query on a Facebook travel group asking –“Is Doha safe for female travelers” and got just one response saying “Yes”!

As my day was approaching near to travel, someone in the office happened to know that I am due to travel to Doha and bang!!!  He lectured me left right center, starting from how pathetic my Jet flight is going to be and how the city is going to look so rural to me, basically he made as much as fun he could about Doha. Fuming with anger, I didn’t have a good response and I just lied to him saying just don’t worry, I have a friend there and I will be alright! I don’t know why I said that but it turned out to be true and I found out a friend from my office who had shifted his base to Doha J I couldn’t have been happier and I just thanked my stars !

At the airport boarding gate, I actually found out that the crowd which is travelling in the same flight was all filled with workers and there were very few families. I walked up to the crew member and asked them if they could change my seat in case I am not so comfy with the assigned one and they happily agreed. Thankfully I had a safe flight and I landed in Doha.

As I sat in the car to leave for my hotel, I could see beautiful lights all around the city and I wondered why do people try to defame such a pretty place? Well, God didn’t like that I was feeling happy about it so he made me witness something else. As I was nearing my hotel, I saw an amazing park but that was filled with workers who were playing cards and smoking. This park was just few minutes from the hotel I was staying and now when I had already seen this I had already decided to stay in the hotel for the next day.

I stayed in Ramada Encore, it’s a budget hotel and had amazing hospitality. I needed some help with my internet and a hotel staff walked up to my room to help me with the query. While he was sorting out my net issues, he happened to ask me of my plans of going out, and I told him my experience about last night which was holding me from stepping out of the room. I still can’t thank him enough for explaining everything to me – he helped me understand that the area where the hotel is, it’s a downtown area, where a lot of construction is taking place, so these workers unwind themselves in the evening by playing cards. No one in Doha can even walk up to a random girl to talk or to even touch her and in case he does, he might just go to the jail if the girl complains against him so Doha is the safest place. Listening to him (his name is Oman) I made up my mind to finally meet my friend.

I went to see the city in the evening and covered only two places – Souq Waqif and Corniche. Souq  Waqif is a traditional Qatari style architecture building which dates to 100 year old but has been renovated. You can just sit in one corner and enjoy the traditional feel of the place. It has a lot of places to eat, buy souvenir, garments, spices etc. There is a section where they sell pets and it’s really wonderful. I saw different kind of cats, and my favorite was Persian cats. If you are a hookah fan, then this is the must visit place for you. All in all, I loved the “Vatavaran” (environment) of this place, this is really magical.

Corniche is just nearby from Souq Waqif and you can simply walk up to this area. This is a waterfront where you can enjoy the skyline view of Doha. It also offers boat rides at good rates and personally I loved the boat ride.

souq-waqif

Souq Waqif

corniche

Corniche

Few restrictions you should know –

 

  • It’s an offence to drink in public in the city. Alcohol is available at licensed hotel and bars only.
  • A non-Qatari women isn’t expected to wear the abaya, but you should be covered – avoid skirts and dressed above knee length

Doha looks amazing and you can plan a one day trip in case you happen to be somewhere close by. Food is delicious and yum, you won’t die of hunger. Safe place for the vegetarians too, as there are ample of options. And trust me I did step out of the hotel alone and surprisingly on the street no one even dared to look at me, felt much safer than Delhi. So girls if you are reading this, safety is really not an issue in Doha.  

Thank you readers for your time, hope you liked this one! 🙂

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