Doha, the capital of Qatar, is a city of gilded tradition mixed with shiny modernity. Since it hosted the Asia Games in 2006, this glistening playground on the Persian Gulf experienced rapid growth under its reigning emir and his visible, progressive queen. Guided by their vision to create a global city of the arts, Doha leads the way as a cultural mecca and educational research hub for the Middle East. Opulent campuses, including an extension of the Cornell Medical Center, bejewel the city’s outlying area, serving both men and women (a first for this region); and a new cultural village showcases contemporary art, music and film. In a country where camel races and hookah lounges are common forms of entertainment, Doha’s luxe hotels and galleries contribute a Western sheen to a proudly Muslim population thriving on the sun-kissed Gulf.
By night, Doha feels like Manhattan in miniature with a touch of New Orleans. Fly into the city after dark and you’ll see a shimmering bay of skyscrapers fronted by a busy coastal promenade lined with ornately carved fishing boats, called dhows, lit like miniature riverboat casinos. At dawn, the scene feels quite different. Tall cranes crowd West Bay, the hotel corridor, where developers race to build luxury suites in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and minarets send out the call to prayer across dunes flanking the city on all sides. It’s hard to believe that, until 1940, the Qataris were a nomadic people. The discovery of rich oil and natural gas reserves turned this once moon-like landscape into one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, and the growth appears to be waxing rather than waning.
Start your day with a power breakfast at the Kempinski Residences & Suites, where a mirrored door in the lobby leads to a sumptuous buffet of exotic fruits, cheeses and pastries. For a quick bite, visit the hotel café for a croissant and a wallopingly strong cup of coffee. Then lace up your running shoes and join the locals along the Corniche, a 4.4-mile walkway drawing expat joggers and veiled speed walkers alike. Cruising this waterfront promenade gives you a good sense of City Center’s layout, which extends from the pyramid-shaped Sheraton Hotel in the business district (West Bay) to the palm-flanked Museum of Islamic Art on Doha Bay’s eastern tip. If you’ve got time, be sure to visit the museum, a sandcastle-like structure built by celebrated architect I.M. Pei. Under its floating dome you’ll find a world-class collection of textiles and calligraphy, and the view of Doha Bay from the museum café is breathtaking.
If you prefer to sightsee by car, grab a taxi. They’re Tiffany blue and affordable. You can cross the city for less than $4, and the drivers are knowledgeable and friendly. A taxi is a must if you plan to see Doha’s most-talked-about building project, Katara Cultural Village. This sweeping arts complex feels like a small Roman city, complete with aqueducts, archways and a beautiful outdoor coliseum. Tucked into picturesque alleyways, stakeholders like the Doha Film Institute, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Qatari Society of Engineers do business here. Look to the Village website for an impressive list of upcoming concerts and gallery exhibits, along with links to fine restaurants.
For a lunch meeting, meet up in Katara Village at Mamig, a popular Lebanese restaurant overlooking the Gulf. Book a private room or reserve a window table on the first or second floor. In the evening, Mamig offers spectacular sunsets along with live Arabian music to entertain dignitaries and high rollers. Before you depart, duck around the corner and visit Al Gannas, a cultural association for falcon hunters. In this sanctuary-like space you can meet some feathered friends, purchase a designer falcon hood or talk to the locals about the significance of falconry as a sport in the Arab world — it’s especially prized among nobility.
For afternoon entertainment, wander the Souq Waqif market and enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee served with dates at one of many street cafés. Or head to an Arabian spa like the one at The Ritz-Carlton’s Sharq Village Resort, a haven for international travelers. Enjoy a power pedicure or an executive facial, or just sit in the cigar bar under the slow-spinning fans. Afternoon tea in the resort’s shady Al Jalsa is an excellent way to unwind, as is its oceanside Al Dana, one of the area’s best alfresco dinner destinations. For a private meeting, consider booking one of the canopied booths on the resort terrace. It’s a great place to entertain in the style of local aristocracy, with opulent couches, a gorgeous view and a devoted staff to replenish snacks and shisha water pipes.
Thrill-seekers find plenty to do in Doha, from dune bashing in the desert to fishing tours on Doha Bay. After hours, most entertainment moves indoors. The W Hotel is popular among Mercedes-driving moguls and expats in search of cocktails in an otherwise dry city. Hotel bars and their restaurants serve alcohol, but you’re otherwise pressed to find any libations other than fruit juices and sodas. For a luxurious dinner with drinks, try the tasting menu at the W’s Spice Market, headed up by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Beneath low-lit lanterns illuminating deep banquettes, guests can enjoy pristine sushi and refreshing cocktails made with ginger and basil. For after-dinner drinks, check out the W’s Wahm Poolside Lounge, where you can relax in the comfort of a curtain-drawn enclosure or hit the miniscule dance floor.
For a more traditional evening experience, dine at Al Tawash. This lively Arabian restaurant in the open-air Souq Waqif is frequented by local VIPs who enjoy the communal-style meals of hummus and roasted meats (including camel), served with plenty of mint tea. The décor is sumptuous, full of blood-red carpets, high ceilings and heavily draped tables that ensure privacy. Smoke some shisha with your guests afterward, and everyone will feel rosy. A stroll through the market after dark is essential — visit the pearl vendors or pick up a pashmina for friends back home.
United Airlines remains firmly committed toward sustainability in aviation. The latest development in its eco-conscious goals includes working with Oxy Low Carbon Ventures to commercialize the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with biotech firm Cemvita Factory. Cemvita looks to develop a revolutionary new way to produce SAF by using carbon dioxide and synthetic microbes. Additionally, United Airlines Ventures (UAV) recently announced an equity investment in Fulcrum, and United has invested more in SAF production than any other airline in the world.
This past May, the location of Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland, was granted status as a city of its own during Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Not too shabby for a town that’s actually been around for a while, boasting structures dating to the 11th century.
Marriott Bonvoy and American Express recently debuted changes to the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card. The card, aimed at helping small business owners turn business expenses into travel rewards, now provides new and existing card members with a 7 percent Room Rate Discount on eligible bookings at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; four times Marriott Bonvoy points at restaurants worldwide; and complimentary Gold Elite status. These changes are in addition to the card’s other existing benefits.
Global business travel is making its way back, even as the pandemic and other world events continue to challenge its return. In a recent poll from the Global Business Travel Association, more than four in five respondents (86 percent) from across the industry said they feel more optimistic than they did at the beginning of the year. Business travel bookings, the need to travel to do business and employee willingness to travel are all on the rise.
PHOTO: © BOGDAN LAZAR | DREAMSTIME.COM,
National Rum Day is right around the corner on Aug.16, meaning it’s time to start planning your celebration. Sandals Resorts, the all-inclusive Caribbean resort company, shares recipes from mixologists, allowing rum fans to celebrate as if they are staying on property.
Sweet tea. Soul food. Y'all. Sound familiar? Though these words and phrases are commonly associated with the South, it's understood in any language. If you're seeking a city abroad that will enchant you, capture your attention from start to finish and welcome everyone as family, we cordially invite you to visit Savannah.
Until Aug. 21, catch the museum premier of Bonnie Lautenberg: Art Meets Hollywood at Boca Raton Museum of Art. After learning one of the large-scale red paintings created by artist Lucio Fontana was the result of his viewing of the 1964 film Red Desert (directed by Michelangelo Antonioni), Lautenberg set out to discover other instances where filmmakers and artists knowingly — or perhaps unknowingly — had an effect on one another’s work.