World Stage
Global Traveler|January 2020
Culture, authenticity and hospitality attract global visitors to Doha.
BRANDON SCHULTZ

WITH UNPRECEDENTED GROWTH and an abundance of new wealth stemming almost exclusively from its abundant supply of oil and natural gas, Qatar finds itself at a cultural crossroads between the modernization brought about by rapid expansion and the protection and preservation of traditional values as it becomes a more globalized nation.

In Doha, the capital city home to nearly a third of the Qatari population, infrastructure continues to improve at an explosive rate, with 2020 anticipating the completion of Doha’s first metro system and the addition of many new hotels and resorts. This city only recently began incorporating street addresses in a nation that ratified its permanent constitution just less than 16 years ago in the summer of 2004. However, Doha isn’t just using its mind-blowing fortune to play catch-up; it’s looking to the future.

Take Msheireb Downtown Doha, for example. The world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project, this revitalization of the old commercial district with a $5.5 billion budget adheres to the highest standards of green development in the creation of more than 100 new buildings for living, working, shopping, learning, worshipping and playing. Construction began in 2010, with the impressive neighborhood set to become fully operational this year.

And then there’s the FIFA World Cup. In 2022 Qatar will host the world’s most watched live event, with new stadiums and venues directly in the capital and more beyond. For this first staging of the World Cup in the Arab world, Qatar doesn’t intend to disappoint the millions expected to attend or the billions watching from home.

Tourism is a major focus for Doha’s future, as Qatar looks forward to prosperity beyond reliance on oil and natural gas fortunes. Though many of the city’s recent advances have been in anticipation of the World Cup, Doha isn’t just propping up something like a temporary Olympic Village. Instead, its long-view structural development intends to support increased tourism well into the future as Doha — and Qatar in general — comes into focus for international travelers.

Even before the athletic world launches Qatar to the forefront of the attention of nearly half the world, the small nation on the Arabian Peninsula’s eastern shore has already received a noticeable increase in global traffic. Each of the past five years has seen more international visitors than the preceding year, and all of them pass through Doha, home to the only international airport in the country. But not only international tourism drives Doha’s hospitality strategy.

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