Luxury meets tradition at Qatar
Qatar boasts a long tradition of luxury – from its days as a pearl diving settlement to the present day, where its hospitality, culture and retail offerings are steeped in extravagance, and its architecture seamlessly melds tradition with modernity. The Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) returns from 24-29 February for its seventeenth edition, encapsulates the country’s dedication to craftmanship and luxury. Over 500 jewellery and watch brands, with 127 local and international exhibitors representing 14 countries, are welcoming visitors on a journey of wonder in Qatar, while Turkish and Indian Pavilions bringing a taste of those countries to Qatar through their jewellery. DJWE provides a platform for both established brands and smaller niche designers to exhibit their pieces, continuing a tradition of richness which permeates every offering in Qatar. From the exhibition halls and beyond, visitors can marvel at a host of splendid attractions which promise a whole new level of indulgence.
The National Museum of Qatar tops Doha’s must-see list. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum’s eye-catching architecture of interlocking discs is inspired by the crystal formations of a desert rose. The NMoQ is divided into three main chapters: Beginnings, Life in Qatar, and The Modern History of Qatar, and uses immersive video screens and dioramas to tell these stories. The museum houses several eateries, including the Desert Rose Cafe by Chef Nouf Al Marri and two restaurants with jewel-inspired names: Café 875, which refers to the grade or purity of gold, as well as Jiwan,which means ‘the perfect pearl’ and is a nod to the country’s past.
The new Msheireb Downtown Doha, which happens to be the world’s smartest and most sustainable city district, takes inspiration from Qatari heritage, with the majestic Barahat courtyard at its heart. Surrounded by restaurants and cafes, the Barahat is the perfect place for a snack while admiring the surrounding architecture. Down the road are four heritage houses which make up the Msheireb Museums. The museums walk visitors through key moments in the country’s history, with each house covering a different topic. Visitors short on time (or energy) can admire the architecture of the area from the comfort of a tram, before exploring nearby cultural attractions such as the Museum of Islamic Arts, National Museum of Qatar, Souq Waqif market, Amiri Diwan (Qatar’s seat of government) or Doha’s picturesque waterfront promenade, known as the Corniche.
Venetian-inspired Qanat Quartier in The Pearl Qatar is the perfect place for those who want to enjoy a taste of Europe in Qatar’s balmy winter weather. Rows of candy-coloured buildings housing boutiques and restaurants run alongside a network of canals with water taxis and a replica of Venice’s Rialto Bridge that instantly transport visitors to Europe, while enjoying distinctly Middle Eastern hospitality.
Qatar is a haven for those seeking retail therapy, with over two dozen luxury malls, many of them newly-built. For a truly decadent experience, head over to the iconic Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette in Katara Cultural Village – itself a destination – or to the grandiose Al Hazm, which is home to high end retail stores, cafes and restaurants, and a library.
For the weary tourist, Qatar’s spas redefine luxury and indulgence with unique experiences offered in distinctive settings. The Sharq Village & Spa, a Ritz-Carlton resort, spread over 5,200sqm on the coast of central Doha, is one of the biggest and most plush spas in Qatar. To escape from the city, travelers can head to the Banana Island Resort, where a traditional Hamam experience melts away any stress and offers the ultimate in pampering. To feel like royalty, there is also Qatar’s first 5-star wellness retreat Al Messila Wellness Resort & Spa.
Qatar also boasts an eclectic dining scene with fine dining restaurants by world-famous chefs. For a memorable experience with exclusive cuisine, try IDAM by Alain Ducasse, located on the top floor of the Museum of Islamic Arts, or the world’s largest Nobu at the Four Seasons. Perched above the Arabian Gulf, both restaurants offer incredible views from their terraces. To enjoy authentic Persian and Arabian cuisines and ambiance, one must visit Parissa in Souq Waqif, or the Flying Carpet in The Torch Doha. To round out the rich experience, head to Nineteen Ninety in the Pearl-Qatar and try a burger wrapped in a sheet of edible 24 Karat gold.
To chase the high of a decadent meal with majestic views, venture into the desert for a glamping experience unlike any other. The Regency Sealine desert camps along the coast of Qatar offer fully air-conditioned tents with comfortable beds, luxurious bathrooms, amenities and an Arabian style lounge at the heart of the camp where guests can relax and enjoy their meals under the stars. Just 6 kilometers away, the Al Majles Resort presents 5-star luxury and spectacular views of the Inland Sea as well as adventure sports including quadbikes, beach buggies and camel rides.
A visit to Qatar would be incomplete without a tour of the country’s newly built stadia, designed by a cast of all-star architects from around the world. As the country prepares to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, its stadiums are architectural marvels in and of themselves. Each one is modeled after a cultural element that is unique to Qatar, such as the tents historically used by nomadic peoples, or the traditional woven cap worn by males across the Arab world. After the tournament, the arenas will reach even more people around the globe in a remarkable way. Many elements of the stadia will be portable or reusable, allowing for seating to be removed and given to developing nations.
While offering sustainably, the stadia also reach new heights in comfort. The tent shaped AlBayt Stadium’s luxury suites allow weary fans to rest while enjoying the games – a first in stadium architecture. Getting around Qatar will be a lavish experience in and of itself. The pristine Doha Metro’s trains and sleek, sustainable stations connect major sites across the capital, making it easier than ever to uncover the hidden gems in the city and beyond. And speaking of luxury, you can also upgrade your train journey with metro’s Gold Club card.
Qatar is awash in sparkle – from the glittering lights of Westbay to the twinkling lanterns on traditional wooden dhows, and the shine of the jewels so central to Qatari culture. With a rich calendar of events, the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition reflects this dedication to glamour and luxury, combining the aspirational with the attainable in a manner that is distinctly Qatari.
Have you ever enjoyed height of luxury in Qatar? How exclusive it feels? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.
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