Qatar Airways and the Qatar Tourism Authority have launched free stopovers for international passengers transiting at Doha International Airport. Should you spend one or two nights to break up your flight?
Included in the package is not only a complimentary transit visa, which will allow passengers to leave the airport.
Transiting passengers with a layover of at least 12 hours will also be entitled to one night’s free accommodation at a luxury hotel.
Transit visas are good for from five to 96 hours, which works out to four days. Transit passengers wanting to spend a second night in Qatar are charged a US$50 booking fee.
Hotels participating in the scheme include the Four Seasons, Marriott Marquis, Radisson Blu, and Oryx Rotana.
The free accommodation will be available throughout the summer. Transiting passengers will be able to take city tours, desert safaris, and dinner cruises at their own expense.
Top 10 Things to See and Do in Qatar
If you decide to make a stopover in Doha, is there anything to do other than lie around the hotel swimming pool?
Doha is, in fact, world-famous for its air-conditioned shopping malls with their high-end department stores and designer boutiques as well as food and beverage outlets, cinemas, bowling alleys, and ice skating rinks.
Instead of shopping at a modern shopping mall, however, why not shop at a bazaar?
Here is a short-list of 10 things to see and do during your stopover in Doha. The longer you stay, the more you can do!
- Stroll Along Doha’s Waterfront Promenade –a seven-kilometre promenade, the Corniche offers spectacular views of the city and Doha Bay.
- Haggle at the Bazaar – Souq Waqif is a mix of small shops selling a mind-boggling array of Middle Eastern goods ranging from perfumes and jewelry to clothing, handicrafts, and yummy treats.
- Survey 14 Centuries of Islamic Art – designed by I.M. Pei, the Museum of Islamic Art showcases 14 centuries of magnificent art from throughout the Islamic world. Admission to permanent collections is free.
- Go on a Cruise – half day, full day, and evening cruises aboard traditional Qatari dhows can be arranged, meals included.
- Visit Barzan Towers – located in the suburbs of Doha, Barzan Towers were built between 1910 and 1916 to serve as a lookout to product local water sources and an observatory to determine dates on the Lunar Calendar.
- Dine at the the Pearl-Qatar – you’ve seen pictures of that spectacular man-made island off the Doha coast. Why not dine at cafes and restaurants lining the promenade?
- Explore Al Zubrah Fort – one of the region’s most extensive and best preserved examples of a settlement from the 18th-19th centuries, covering 60 hectares.
- Marvel at Prehistoric Rock Carvings - the 874 rock carvings at Al Jassasiya date back to the Neolithic Age, with images of rosettes, ships, footprints, and cups in a row.
- Ride a Camel – daytime, evening, and overnight journeys into the dessert can be arranged, with activities ranging from camel riding to sand-boarding and riding a dune buggy. Why not extend your adventure to Koh Al Adaid, the Inland Sea, which can only be reached by traveling across the dunes?
- Spend the Night in a Bedouin Camp – you can spend the night at a Bedouin-style camp in the dessert, where the sunsets and moonlit barbecues are pure magic.
Hamad International Airport
Qatar Airways flies to more than 150 travel destinations in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East.
Passengers generally transit at Hamad International Airport, where the airline maintains a hub.
It is ranked as one of the world's best airports and the best airport in the Middle East.
The airline's Business Class Lounge at the airport has been ranked as the world's best business class lounge by Skytrax.
I've transited at the airport four times traveling between Asia and Europe, and I must say, the Business Class Lounge is fabulous.
I do, however, miss the dedicated terminal for First and Business Class passengers at the old airport. That sense of exclusivity upon arrival has been lost.
I actually found it a bit difficult to locate the Business Class Lounge on my first trip to the new airport. Better signage would have helped because I walked right past it. The distance between the lounge and the gates could be quite lengthy.
How to Book a Flight
To be eligible for the complimentary offer, you will need to book your flight at www.qatarairways.com.
Select ‘multi-city’ and choose your hotel once you have received confirmation of your flight.
All Qatar Airways passengers, both Premium and Economy, are eligible for this offer, which is just one of many new initiatives that will be launched over the coming months to generate awareness of, and visits to, Qatar.
Booking validity is from 1 May through 31 August 2017 for travel 7 May through 30 September 2017.
The offer is not valid on code share flights. Various other terms and conditions apply. Please do your own due diligence.
It was designed to kick off the newly launched campaign +Qatar from the Qatar Tourism Authority and is aimed at supporting the growing demand for tourism in Qatar.
The airline is a member of the oneworld global alliance.