It’s already mid-2022, and the quadrennial event that millions of people are anticipating eagerly is almost here. Yes, it’s the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The tournament, set to start in November 2022 and last until December 2022, will be held in Qatar, one of the Arab countries located in the Gulf. It will be the first FIFA World Cup to be held in the Arab World, and the second to be held in Asia after the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan.
Are you planning on visiting Qatar, and looking for halal traveling tips and a list of interesting places to visit? If so, then this article is just the right one for you!
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Qatar is a country situated on the Arabian peninsula, occupying the smaller Qatar peninsula. Its area is 11,581 km2. The population according to the 2020 census reached an estimated number of 2,795,484. Interestingly, around 2.3 million are expatriates. Its capital city is Doha, and it is currently led by Emir Tamim bin Hamad of the House of Al-Thani and Prime Minister Khalid bin Khalifa.
Like many other states in the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar is rich in oil and gas. The oil in gas reserve in Qatar amounts to more than 13% of the global oil and gas resource, making Qatar one of the world’s richest states.
Qatar’s tourism sector has been growing since before the pandemic. The country recorded 2.3 million tourists in 2017. In 2019, Qatar saw an increase of over 2.1 million visitors. Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar is gearing up by improving its tourism.
Halal Tourism in Qatar
Tourism is part of the growing global halal industry. Sadly, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that necessitated many countries to impose movement and travel restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, its development slowed down. Now that many people have been vaccinated, many countries have begun to ease their restrictions, reviving the halal tourism industry.
Qatar ranks 8th in Islamic Economy according to the Global Islamic Economy Index. Luckily, with Islam being its state religion and the majority of its population being Muslims, Qatar is one of the Muslim-friendly tourist destinations. Although Qatar also has considerable communities of people of other faiths, Islam deeply influences the life and culture of the Qataris.
The state guides the religious life of the Muslims in Qatar through the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. Its vision is “to build a contemporary Islamic society along with fostering the Sharia and cultural heritage”. Its objectives are to preserve, develop, and guide all religious activities in the state via the active promotion of religious awareness.
Based on the above facts, if you are a Muslim and planning to visit Qatar, you can breathe a sigh of relief because you don’t need to worry about halal accommodations and facilities!
It’s easy to find halal eateries in Qatar, especially in the capital city because all restaurants in Doha are halal. As listed by halaltrip.com, some of the finest restaurants in Doha are Spice Market, Green’s, and Bukhara.
The Spice Market restaurant offers a wide variety of items, specializing in Southeast Asian dishes. If you look forward to savoring selections of curries, sushi, soups and salads, and other fancy and delicious dishes while enjoying the view of the Arabian Gulf, you can visit the Spice Market Restaurant in West Doha Hotel and Residences.
Are you a fan of rich and fragrant South Asian dishes? If you are, then Green’s might be your favorite eatery. It serves a wide variety of South Asian Dishes including dosa, biryani, curry, and a wide selection of Indian bread. The restaurant is located in the Ain Khalid region of Doha and opens from 5 a.m.till midnight.
Like Green’s, it serves Indian dishes, including vegan and vegetarian ones. Popular for its Mughlai and kebabs, this restaurant stands in the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex.
Whether you are traveling to a Muslim-majority country or a country where the Muslim population is small, it’s best to visit the local mosques to get to know the Muslim population there. Luckily, there are mosques on every street in the capital city, making the call to prayer very easily heard.
The biggest of these mosques is the Qatar State Mosque, also known as Imam Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab Mosque. The mosque was opened to the public in 2011, and built in the traditional Arab architecture and adorned with around 90 domes and a minaret. With an area that covers 175,164 square meters, the main prayer hall can hold up to 11,000 worshippers. In total, the mosque can accommodate up to 30,000 people.
Another mosque worth visiting is the Abdullah bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Center, previously known as Fanar Mosque. Inaugurated in 2008, the mosque was named after a famous Qatari scholar. It features a distinctive spiral minaret and offers Islamic education for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
If you are looking for a mosque with historical values, visit the Al-Shuyoukh Mosque. It was built by Emir Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani, son of the founder of the modern state of Qatar Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammad Al-Thani. Over the years, it has undergone renovations by several Qatari leaders. Its name is taken from the plural Arabic word for sheikh, a title that is commonly used to denote a state ruler in some of the Gulf states.
Recommended Tourist Attractions
Besides restaurants and mosques, there are several other places of interest that you can visit when you are in Qatar. Here are four of the most popular landmarks:
Museum of Islamic Art
The Doha Museum of Islamic Art displays historical artifacts from across the Muslim world. The collection includes pieces of Islamic art over 1,400 years, including ceramics, jewelry, and textile.
The museum compound was built on a spacious artificial peninsula spanning 45,000 square meters. It includes a fancy restaurant, a library, and a park. However, as stated on their website, the museum is currently closed at the time when this article is written in June 2022 as it is undergoing an expansion. But don’t worry, it will be reopened in the autumn of 2022.
In Arabic, souq means marketplace, and Souq Waqif is a marketplace that stands near a dry river bed known as Wadi Mushaireb where the bedouins and the local population used to meet to trade goods and livestock.
It is called Souq Waqif or standing market because the buyers and sellers used to conduct transactions while standing. Following a fire that damaged many structures within the marketplace, it underwent a renovation and restoration that lasted from 2006 to 2008. It blends the elements of a traditional Arab market and modern architecture.
Today, the marketplace serves also as a tourist attraction. Visitors can not only shop for locally made handicrafts, souvenirs, as well as exotic spices, and other local products, but they can also interact with animals like falcons and camels that are sold in the marketplace.
Al-Koot Fort, also known as the Doha Fort is a historical building that dates back to the time of the Ottomans. They deserted the building, and it was later improved by the second Qatari Emir, Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani. It was originally used as a police station and jail to protect the nearby Souq Waqif from thieves that were rampant at the time.
Currently, the building will be incorporated into the expansion of Souq Waqif. Although the museum inside is currently closed, the visitors can still enjoy the scenic beauty of the area around the fort.
Katara Cultural Village
Katara Cultural Village is a space designated to be a cultural center. It takes its name from the historical name of Qatar used since the time of the ancient Romans up until the 18th century.
Its soft opening took place in 2010 during the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. Inside, there are several cultural buildings such as an amphitheater and a multi-purpose cinema.
Many Qatari cultural organizations also have their offices in the cultural village, including the Doha Film Institute, Qatar Music Academy, and Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.
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