Doha – layover guide what to expect and what to do

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If I could summarize Doha in one sentence, it would be, 'hot, boring and expensive'.

I was very hopeful for this 'Dubai-in-the-making' and I love places that lift themselves into a meaningful (economic) existence seemingly by sheer will. However, Doha has a long way to go before it is another Dubai!

Prices are high throughout the country - expect hotels to charge $200+ and food to cost about twice as much as in the US. A beer in a hotel can easily cost $20 - but hey, it's almost half a liter of beer :)

The visa-on-arrival for a tiny country that is interested in promoting tourism is $28 - this isn't a great idea. The United Arab Emirates (Doha's model for almost everything, down to its currency) does not charge visa fees for most nationalities.

I had trouble finding good spots to eat or things to do, although I invested hours into research. Here is what I did in 48 hours:

- Souq Waqif - Souqs can be a magnificent mix of old and new - Beirut's souk is awesome - but Doha's version is just plain boring

- The Museum of Islamic Art has a magnificent new building which provides a fantastic view towards downtown - so far, so good, but the art is really not that interesting and the adjacent park is probably way too hot for most days here

- The Corniche is a long stretch of sea wall along the Persian Gulf, which is a good way to spend the evening hours

- Downtown is a stretch of dull skyscrapers, malls and hotels which all look incredibly soulless and devoid of any culture. Don't try to be a pedestrian here as you won't enjoy the myriad of fences, security guards, construction sites or aggressive drivers

- Katara is a beautiful cultural village that was purpose-built a bit further north. It has an art exhibition, coffee shops and a beach. That all sounds good, but trust me - you won't be too excited there, either

- Lastly, The Pearl is another row of houses, apartments and hotels with the odd Ferrari and Lamborghini dealer thrown in. It is an artificial island with its own marina that has a number of cool boats to ogle at

So, my recommendation is to hang out in the Qatar lounges and refrain from getting into the city. You will most likely be disappointed.

One of the most exciting things here is the brand new airport, which is stylish but not exactly working well yet (lots of lines and disorganized staff).

Sorry to be so harsh on you Doha, but I really tried to like you. Maybe we can be friends in another life!

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