Doha, Qatar

Middle East has been on my bucket list for quite some time and it has started to rank up from bottom to my top 5 must place to visit, all thanks to Instagram and Pinterest I was able to gain insight to these unfamiliar conservative territory, I’m receptive to new and different ideas, broaden my horizon and enrich my knowledge as well as to open new opportunity in cultural experience. I’ve been eyeing on places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain and the likes.  A window of opportunity awaits me.

I had the privilege to visit Doha as guest of Ali Bin Ali Group for their unveiling of Katara Plaza.  A 6 hour flight from London to Doha via Qatar Airways seemed doable, having been in 4 countries in the space of one week seemed stressful enough I was able to repay my sleep debt on the flight, and then later watched an inflight movie ‘Interstellar’ for the first time, a jaw-dropping film, gripping but awesome.  Gravity was a disappointment.

Upon landing at Hamad Airport in the late evening, I was memerised by its impressive architecture, spacious, conceptual, where art and architecture merge together given us a unique passenger experience.  On the way to W Hotel via taxi, unfazed by my tiredness and famish state, peering through the car window struck by the incredible skyline at night somehow reminded me of Singapore and Hong Kong, I was beginning to like this place.

After a night of comfortable, undisrupted sleep, the European press team from France, Italy and UK had the opportunity to explore the capital.

Musuem-of-Islamic-Art

Museum of Islamic Art

Museum of Islamic Art

Museum of Islamic Art

The Museum of Islamic Art is architectural gem to Doha, located on the Corniche promenade in Doha – the museum was designed by an American-Chinese architect, I.M Pei.  If you’re not familiar with his work, he’s known for his design behind Bank of China tower in Hong Kong, and glass & steel pyramid for the Musee du Louvre.  Many of his work were generally considered as master of modern architecture in aesthetic genre.

I loved how everything looked so clean in the manner of cubic forms, conceptual and innovative, yet so unique the museum grew on me throughout the whole tour.

Doha, Qatar

The Aspire Tower, better known as The Torch Doha. It’s a 300 metre-tall skyscraper hotel located in the Aspire Zone complex. It is said to be currently the tallest structure and building in Doha and Qatar.  The tower was a focal landmark of the 2006 Asian Games due to its size and proximity to the main Khalifa International Stadium.

Doha, Qatar

Doha, Qatar

Doha, Qatar

Tour at Souq Waqif and Gold Souq – home to arts and crafts goods, gold merchants, and souvenirs.

Doha, Qatar

Doha, Qatar

Do keep in mind the city is only over 20 years old it was a complete dessert back.  Doha is still developing through heavy investment being poured in to the city, especially Qatar’s heavy investment in its World Cup in 2022, tourism, and new rail transport system.  Doha is one of the fastest growing cities and leading emerging markets for property investors in the Middle East, and is ranked the world’s 5th strongest economy, just behind New York.

Katara Plaza, Doha

Now the unveiling of the Katara Plaza project, Qatar’s first ever open-air air conditioned commercial plaza will open its doors in 2016.  The project is currently being built on an area of over 38,000 square meters, in the Cultural Village Foundation ‘Katara’, and is poised to be a unique commercial plaza that includes a series of features, which are the first of its kind in Qatar.

Katara Plaza will be home to Galeries Lafayette and Evian Spa, both will be the first to open exclusively in the Middles East. The project will offer a relaxed atmosphere and designated spaces for shoppers, and offer recreational experiences, in line with culture and entertainment.  Galleries Lafayette and Ali Bin Ali Group has already appointed the world’s famous architect Bruno Moinard taking on the creation of the store designs.  No doubt it will the key landmark for luxury retail, lifestyle, art and entertainment, and wellbeing.  Don’t forget there’s an addition to children’s mall, which I believe it’s going to be quite spectacular. I had my first spa experience with Evian Spa at Hotel Royal Evian in South of France last year, it was brilliant. I think Evian Spa will provide the best classic spa experience to Middle East market.

What can I say?  The project is still under construction and it would be amazing to see how it all turned out when the plaza opens in 2016!


Kit Lee was a guest of Katara Plaza, Ali Bin Ali Group.