Qatar take on Japan on Wednesday in an Asian qualifying match for World Cup 2010.
Qatar is a hot, arid desert country – but don’t worry, for at this time of the year the climate is perfect. In this brief guide we provide some basic travel essentials along with an idea of what to do and where to do when you get there.
If you are Japanese, British, American or Australian there is no need to worry about visas – you can buy one on arrival. (A prior hotel booking is advisable, though, as you may be asked for an address.) Don’t bring any alcohol or pork into the Qq Poker country (or dirty dvds, handcuffs or sexy knickers) as they will be confiscated. Getting through the immigration is easy, then grab a taxi from outside the front gates and head off to your hotel.
Chance are your match will be held in Al Sadd stadium, the stadium of choice for 90% of Qatar’s football matches. And it is easy to see why – the modernistic design is frankly superb, and you always feel close to the action. The stadium is friendly enough, although there may be a little bit of booing during your National Anthem (don’t take it too seriously.) As the match starts the Qataris will start chanting and drumming – listen out for Yallah Shebab (come on boys). Try to avoid the burgers sold around the stadium, they are quite simply the worst in the world.
There are a huge range of hotels to choose from, the majority of which will eat into your budget. At the very top end of the market are the Four Seasons and the two Ritz Carltons. The Ritz Carlton Sharq Village and Spa is built to represent a desert village, but is far more luxurious than any Qatar desert dwelling ever was. You might also want to check out the Sheraton, a huge hotel located on the city’s sea front and built like a pyramid. Moving down the price scale a bit brings you to the Ramada, which also has the benefit of being home to half the city’s bars – and is handily close to Al Sadd Football Stadium. At the very bottom end of the scale is the Bismillah Hotel, which is superbly located in the fabulous Souq Waqif – but you will have to forgo any chance of a beer, as this is a dry hotel.
Hotels may not be cheap but cheap restaurants abound, and you can have a good solid meal for a few dollars. Indian workers’ restaurants serve huge helpings of curry and Briyani rice, while at one of the many Turkish restaurants you can fill yourself up on Meza for a few riyals. Kebabs are available everywhere, but for some authentic Arabic food you might want to try Al Majiles Al-Arabi Restaurant off Al Sadd Road. There’s plenty of choice if you wish to remain with Japanese food – you could try Moon Palace on Al Nasser Street, Korean Gardens on Suhaim Bin Hamed street, the Yen Sushi bar in La Cigale or Sakura’s in the Ramada.
Drinking and Bars
Alcohol is only sold in licenced bars, almost all of which are in the hotels. The Ramada has the biggest and best selection, but the Sheraton also has the excellent Irish bar. Avoid getting too drunk outside the hotels, as it is a crime to be drunk, although you are unlikely to get into trouble unless you make a nuisance of yourself.