FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

MICE Doha

by Richard Newton

Dec 1, 2018
December 2018

THERE IS SOMETHING THEATRICAL about Doha’s Corniche. Curving for almost five miles around Doha Bay, this paved walkway provides pedestrians with a prime view of the lapping Arabian Gulf. Beyond the constant flow of vehicles on the other side, an ever-rising forest of skyscrapers grows. At night it is magical: Qatar’s capital city becomes a constellation of multicolored lights glitteringly reflected on the water.

Doha’s rapid transformation into a modern city has been more cultured, less brash than its regional rival Dubai. Yet this is a city with unbridled ambition, and the MICE sector is central to its plans.

The biggest event on the horizon — the 2022 FIFA World Cup — precipitated a frenzy of construction work. The main stadium is currently being completed in a brandnew city, Lusail, 14 miles north of downtown Doha, while four other stadiums will be in Doha itself.

Controversially, the World Cup shifted from its traditional June/July time slot to November/December in order to avoid Qatar’s ferocious summer heat. The climate is something MICE planners need to consider. From May to August, temperatures often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with high humidity.

Most of Doha’s venues are designed to keep the hostile climate at bay. The flagship facility, the Qatar National Convention Centre, turns the sun to its advantage. A vast acreage of rooftop solar panels supplies the Centre with around 12 percent of its energy needs.

Designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, the Convention Centre’s exterior support columns resemble huge, branching trees — a striking contrast to Qatar’s largely treeless desert landscape. This organic structure provides ample column-free interior space subdivided into two large conference halls; a 2,300-seat theater; three other tiered auditoria; 52 meeting rooms; and six VIP lounges.

Although business and media events feature on Doha’s MICE calendar, the city has a particular love of sport and boasts world-class facilities to match. The Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence at Aspire Zone (aka Doha Sports City) can accommodate events or incentive visits centered on a wide range of sports including soccer, basketball, athletics, cycling and tennis. The Aspire Zone itself is a large complex offering a plethora of MICE services and boasting two 5-star on-site hotels, the Torch Doha and the Al Aziziyah Boutique Hotel (with its oddly Victorian façade).

Doha Golf Club, which hosts the pro-tour Qatar Masters tournament annually, is available for banquets, meetings, team-building events and other corporate functions. Qatar Racing Club, the city’s main motorsports venue, offers hospitality packages on race days as well as meeting facilities.

Msheireb Enrichment Centre is a floating exhibition space moored close to the Sheraton Hotel on the Corniche. Featuring permanent displays portraying Doha past and future, the Centre doubles as a state-of-the-art conference venue for small groups.

Gandhi's Three Monkeys art installation in Katara Cultural Village © CARLO ORLANDO PATRIARCA | DREAMSTIME.COM

Gandhi’s Three Monkeys art installation in Katara Cultural Village © CARLO ORLANDO PATRIARCA | DREAMSTIME.COM

The Katara Cultural Village, a complex largely drawing inspiration from traditional Arabian architecture, features a somewhat incongruous Roman amphitheater proving an outstanding venue for up to 5,000 seated spectators.

Alongside the dedicated events venues, Doha’s many 5-star international hotels all offer MICE facilities. Prestigious chains represented here include Westin, Sheraton, Rotana, Shangri-La, Hilton, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Kempinski, Ritz- Carlton and many others.

With the World Cup on its way and a constant roster of major events in the meantime, it would appear Doha’s place on the international stage is secure. However, an ongoing diplomatic dispute with neighboring countries (notably Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) has had a logistical impact, restricting transport and communications links and affecting imports of food and other essentials. MICE visitors should be aware of the potential for unforeseen disruption.

Despite the rumbling crisis, Doha continues to enjoy a MICE boom, with an annual growth rate of 36 percent over the past five years. Rising above the many competing MICE venues around the world, the city’s success is largely attributable to impeccable stagecraft.

UNIQUE VENUES
With the opening of the National Museum of Qatar this month, Doha gains not only a modern architectural masterpiece but also an outstanding new MICE venue. Designed by superstar architect Jean Nouvel, the building is intended to resemble a desert sand rose, with dozens of interlocking “petals.”

As is so often with prestige projects, the popular gripes during construction were the cost (nearly half a billion dollars) and delays (the opening date is two years behind schedule). But now that it is complete, Doha can celebrate its possession of one of the world’s greatest modern buildings.

Within its 13 acres, the museum features permanent exhibits celebrating Qatar’s history and seafaring heritage. In addition, a 220-seat auditorium and a 70-seat forum are available for MICE events, while other spaces both inside the museum and in its gardens provide spectacular backdrops for meetings and conferences.
qm.org.qa/en/project/national-museum-qatar

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Aug 9, 2022

California Fall Hotel Openings

With fall soon upon us, California’s hospitality industry ramps up for an exciting season of hotel openings. From retreats in the mountains to urban escapes, these new hotels soon hit the scene in California this fall.

Los Cabos Sets Your Vacation Apart
from the Rest

Whether you prefer a villa on the beach or an ultra-luxe suite downtown, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in Los Cabos.

Daily
Aug 9, 2022

Discover Scotland’s Ancient City of Dunfermline

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.

Daily
Aug 9, 2022

American Express Unveils Changes to Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

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.

Protected: Lose Track of Time in Savannah, Georgia

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.

August 2022
Aug 9, 2022

Creativity, Culture and Glorious Nature Abound in Zürich

PHOTO: © BOGDAN LAZAR | DREAMSTIME.COM,

Daily
Aug 5, 2022

Italy City and Coast Getaway from Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese, Castello Di Semivicoli

Experience the best of Italy with the new 10-day City and Coast Getaway. Travelers begin their trip with a luxury stay at Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese before moving onto Abruzzo’s Castello Di Semivicoli.

The State of Sustainability in Global Business Travel

Much of the global business travel industry has already made sustainable business travel a priority with a focus on reducing emissions and their environmental footprint. But the industry, as well as external stakeholders, such as policymakers, recognize more needs to be done.

Daily
Aug 5, 2022

Sip Sandals Resort Style for National Rum Day

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.