Qatar: All set for the kick-off

With FIFA 2022 World Cup round the corner, Qatar has upped its game as a sports tourism destination

White sand and clear blue expansive water set the perfect tone to watch some kite-surfers display their skill as Qatar Tourism and Global Kitesports Association (GKA) signed an agreement making Qatar Tourism the official tourism partner of GKA with the announcement of the opening of Fuwairit Kite Beach. At the site of the upcoming resort, about an hour north of Doha, amid hot winds and colourful beach décor, Chairman of Qatar Tourism and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker expresses how kitesurfing is now included in the long list of sports that the country is set to support. 

The resort, set to open later this year, is a state-of-the-art property located along the beach in Fuwairit, a coastal village that ticks all the boxes for an ideal kitesurfing location – powder-soft sand, suitable ocean water and consistent wind conditions. Perhaps that is the reason the Kite World Tour opening as well as finals are set to be hosted by the Middle-Eastern country next year. 

At the launch, Al Baker said the country was looking to place itself as one of the main kitesurfing destinations, especially as kitesurfing has been practiced as a sport in Qatar for three decades, and due to the fact that the kitesurfing season is one of the longest, if not the longest, in Qatar out of the entire world. While the launch of the resort marked the commitment of Qatar towards kitesurfing, it forms only one part of country’s long-term strategy of positioning itself as a sports tourism destination. Qatar is hoping to welcome over six million tourists every year by 2030, an ambitious plan at the centre of which lies the strategy to host many major sporting tournaments.


FIFA preparations

For FIFA World Cup 2022 in November, the country is upping the number of hotels to accommodate the estimated million visitors – about 35 per cent of Qatar’s population– who will visit the country during the tournament. Moreover, it has also created a portfolio of eight sustainable stadiums to host the event, with seating capacity ranging from 40,000 each at Khalifa International Stadium, Al Janoub Stadium, Stadium 974 and Al Thumama Stadium to 80,000 at Lusail Stadium. 

Staying true to sustainability

The stadiums are a mark of Qatari innovation. While the Khalifa International Stadium at the heart of the Aspire Zone has been given a fresh facade, Lusail Stadium is a new addition and will be repurposed post-FIFA 2022 into several community units like a school and a health clinic apart from using it for housing and shops. Stadium 974, built from recycled shipping containers and modular steel, is the first fully demountable stadium in FIFA World Cup history. It will be dismantled completely after the event and its component parts will be donated by Qatar to countries minus sporting infrastructure. The upper stands of Al Thumama Stadium will be converted into a boutique hotel with 50 per cent seating to be donated to other countries. The Al Bayt Stadium will also be refurbished to include a branch of Aspetar sports hospital, a shopping centre and a five-star hotel. 

In fact, Qatar 2022 is set to be the first carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup in the world. The stadiums will be used round-the-year post the tournament, and so, an outdoor cooling technology has been developed by the country to ensure climate control. As per estimates, the technology is 40 per cent more sustainable than existing techniques. Qatar is also making use of recycled water from the stadiums to irrigate new green spaces so much so that a 50,000 sq m of park area will surround the Al Thumama Stadium. 

But football is not the only sport the Gulf country has its eyes on. Apart from lending support to kitesurfing, Qatar will be hosting Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2023 on a 10-year contract as well as the annual ATP and WTA tennis tournaments.

Setting itself apart

Qatar is aiming to distinguish itself as an all-rounder sports tourism destination. For this reason, the country has developed an impressive portfolio of attractions targetting sports enthusiasts that visit the country for any of the events. The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum narrate the story of the evolution of sports, disseminating information about national and international history and heritage of sport. It has a library where visitors can find a catalogue of books and journals related to sports. It also has displays of key sportspeople including Indian legends like MC Mary Kom and Sachin Tendulkar. 

The key attractions at the museum, however, are Lionel Messi’s 2021 Ballon d’Or, Michael Schumaker’s car from 2000 in which he won the Formula 1 championship for Ferrari and Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves from his 1964 match. The museum has added interactive components that encourage visitors to become more physically active, including a football display where they can try to score a goal against an automated goalkeeper. To cater to visitors looking for an adrenalin rush, Qatar launched one of the largest theme parks – Desert Falls Water & Adventure Park – containing 28 slides and rides last year. In fact, Doha is home to the tallest indoor rollercoaster in the world, an attraction which sits in the Quest Doha Theme Park. 

The upcoming 2 lakh sq m Doha Winter Wonderland, with its seafront chalets, 50 rides, restaurants and festival games, is a sister attraction of the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London. It will be situated near Lusail City, to the north of Doha, and will allow guests to enjoy and relax on the beach even during winters. The Outpost Al Barari, comprising 21 luxury lodges with private pools, aims to encourage guests to get away from urban life and take part in activities like hot ballooning and desert walks. Qatar’s first Entertainment Island, Qetaifan Island North, will feature a water park with 36 rides apart from floating hotels and beach clubs. 

The country is also home to the Doha Golf Club, an 18-hole championship course, containing eight lakes meant for passionate golfers. For horse-riders and lovers of equestrian sports, Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club is the place to be, with its racecourse containing 1,800 m of turf track and 1,400 m of sand track. Qatar then has Al Shahaniya Camel Race Track supporting the multi-million-dollar sport which is a part of the Qatari culture.  

Eating to heart’s content

Qatar is also promoting its diverse gastronomy that is at par with the offerings in Dubai. Having both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options in umpteen, food-lovers are in for a treat. STK steakhouse, on the 23rd floor of The Ritz-Carlton Doha, is a place where the staff is highly passionate about food and how they serve it. Burrata, Fish Tacos, STK Fish and Chips and Homemade Potato Gnocchi are delicacies to try with Cinnamon Churros serving as the perfect dessert. 

Bayt El Talleh, Katara Cultural Village is a Levantine cuisine restaurant where the stunning view of Katara south hills from the outdoor seating perfectly complements the Lebanese and Middle-Eastern spread. Beetroot Salad, Hommous, Potato Kubbeh and Falafel Palestinian are great picks to enjoy. II Galante at The Banyan Tree in Doha is a treat right out of Italy. The restaurant has many mouth-watering options such as Burrata Affumicata, Melanzane alla Parmigiana, Caesar Salad al Granchio, Zuppa di Pomodoro and Stracciatella, Lasagna Bolognese and Spaghetti al Pomo-D’oro. 

When in Doha

For those who are always on the quest for knowledge and learning, National Museum of Qatar is a must-visit. Built around the Old Amiri Palace in the shape of a desert rose, it traces Qatar’s history from the hardships of the life in the era of pearl diving to the turnaround that came with oil. Household items from centuries ago and pearls of all kinds like The Pearl Carpet of Baroda containing 15 million pearls are on display as they narrate the story of the common man and the way their lives changed. 

While on vacation, relaxation is a must and that is what Dhow Cruise offers. Guests can get onboard a traditional dhow, inspired by the vessels historically used for fishing, pearl diving or trading. The cruises leisurely allow guests to sit and enjoy the view, read or even blast out music during the carefree journey. As people look to travel and explore the world like never before, Qatar is the place to be.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'BW HOTELIER - THE TALENT POOL SPECIAL'

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Qatar Tourism Fuwairit Kite Beach Sports in Qatar


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