Doha looks to the future while retaining its past

The mix of old and new is what defines Doha, the capital city of the peninsular Arabian Gulf country Qatar.

The buildings rapidly dotting the skyline all around the capital are a perfect illustration of the spring that Qatar - and its seven cities - finds itself in.

Amazing architecture and lighting with no expense spared is what the growth of the country is defined by.

Despite having its borders closed because of a Saudi-led boycott, the richest nation in the world with some 2.57million residents is booming.

Almost the size of Gauteng, all corners are reachable within an hour or two.

The cultural oasis that Doha has become has 600000 palm trees to encourage that easy lifestyle feeling.

National pride is evident as the face of the country's leader, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is everywhere, including stickers on cars and sides of buildings.

In addition to this, tax-free Doha could be defined as the home of Land Cruiser. It was the first thing spotted on a recent trip to the country to celebrate their visa-free entry, valid for 30 days, to 80 countries. Doha is spotless and crime-free with family-friendly spaces.

Our stay was booked at the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel, which has been around since 1982.

It's a great resort for foreigners, as it comes complete with restaurants, all amenities and access to the sea. If you don't stay in a resort, payment is required for use of public beaches.

As the busy Doha CBD grows, and readies itself for the influx of tourists to premier sporting events, five-star hotels can be found along the coast.

And the sea is nothing to be sneered at - perfectly calm with no waves, a crisp-blue, warm water and soft sand.

But there is much to see and do, and most of it at night.

A trip to the Katara cultural village dating back to 750AD is a must-visit for the cultural history found on the streets.

The Souq Waqif, a night market, is where bargains can be found. Sections of the market cater to specific interests - the gold souq, the spice souq, etc.

We also enjoyed two meals at restaurants in the souq, one at a Turkish place and one at a Damascus eatery.

We also managed to squeeze in a dhow cruise - what a pleasure with perfect weather.

Temperatures, during winter, average between 29ºC and 35ºC. During summer, they can reach 55ºC, hence the night life. It's too dangerous to do anything outside during the day in summer.

The Museum of Islamic Art is a beauty to behold, let alone what is hidden inside.

A camel ride and dune bashing in the desert watching the sun go down, just outside Doha, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should not be missed. Don't eat before dune bashing!

Dinner in a five-star tented camp is something not many can brag about doing.

Doha is definitely a beautiful city to plan for your next holiday. But our trip wouldn't have been what it was was it not for "Sam I Am", our Travel Designer tour guide Mohamed Samradin with the same joy as Dr Seuss telling a story, excitement for life and insightful knowledge of the country.

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