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.

Explore Excursions

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Feb 21, 2024

Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Reopens After 4 Years of Rebuilding from Bushfires

After almost four years in the planning, design and reconstruction stages, Baillie Lodges’ flagship property, Southern Ocean Lodge on Australia’s Kangaroo Island, reopened late last year after the original hotel was razed during the summer of the 2019/2020 Kangaroo Island bushfires.

Experience Luxury and Tranquility at Hamad International Airport’s Hotel

Known as one of the best airports in the world and voted Best Airport in the Middle East by Global Traveler readers, Hamad International Airport aims to set new standards for the airport industry that exceed the expectations of travelers through its facility.

Daily
Feb 20, 2024

Azerai Ke Ga Bay: Secluded Serenity on Vietnam’s Southeastern Coast

Two and a half hours beyond Ho Chi Minh City, via a newly constructed highway, Azerai Ke Ga Bay in Vietnam’s Binh Thuan province opens the gate to a corner of the country waiting to be discovered. The careful planning and sustainable development of Azerai Ke Ga Bay has already made a strong impression as an award-nominated and -winning pioneer of 5-star boutique hospitality in this emerging destination, drawing in an adventurous new generation of affluent international guests.

Daily
Feb 20, 2024

Why Queensland, Australia, Should Be on Your 2024 Travel List

Set your sights on Australia this year as Queensland prepares to welcome some neat hotels and experiences in 2024. In fact, it’s easier than ever to reach the region thanks to a new, non-stop American Airlines flight from Dallas (DFW) to Brisbane (BNE) beginning this October.

Fill Your Heart with Ireland

Whether it's the people, the craic (fun) or the coasts, travelers always find something to love about the island of Ireland. What fills your heart?

Daily
Feb 20, 2024

5 Wellness Experiences with Alila Hotels

Alila Hotels & Resorts, part of Hyatt’s Boundless Collection, offers travelers a series of new, immersive wellness experiences at its properties around the world through its Alila Journeys program.

Daily
Feb 16, 2024

Nobu Hotel Marrakech Enters 2024 with a Tapestry of New Experiences

Nobu Hotel Marrakech recently launched new and refreshed experiences for 2024. To kick off the new year, guests can find new spa treatments, wellness activities, a specially curated vegan menu and more.

Briggs & Riley: Elevate Your Journey with Quality Luggage

Embracing a life well lived often means embracing a life well-traveled. Every journey becomes a canvas for experiences that shape our lives and at the heart of every adventure lies the indispensable companion: quality luggage.

Daily
Feb 16, 2024

Celebrate National Margarita Day with Hilton Cancun Mar Caribe

The resort offers several thoughtfully crafted artisanal cocktails to celebrate National Margarita Day or any day; however, if you can’t make it to Cancún this month, shake up two of Hilton Cancun Mar Caribe’s margaritas at home with these recipes.