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Posted On: 4 April 2015 06:20 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:15 pm

Sea tourism sector booming in Qatar

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Sea tourism in Qatar is booming due to the growing interest of residents in cruising, swimming and diving as well as their keenness to celebrate special occasions on board yachts.
"An increasing number of people want to cruise along Doha’s coastal waters," Doha Yachting operations manager Loui Sheikh told Gulf Times during a recent cruise aboard Italian brand Azimut’s luxurious Lavender 46ft yacht.
"Many residents want to try new adventures besides going for a safari ride in the desert," explained the official who described Doha Yachting as the first luxury yacht chartering company in Qatar.
“The weekend remains the busiest time but some customers come during the weekdays as well,” said Sheikh.
“Our four vessels are always out in the sea.”
Many residents go for cruising, swimming and diving. Some families and groups celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions on board luxury yachts such as the Lavender which can accommodate at least 16 people.
Some customers prefer dinner cruises and island hopping while others like to go around with their jet skis.
Aliyah island, home to desert hares and a variety of birds such as flamingos, gulls and cormorants, provide boaters with an opportunity to observe local species in their natural habitat.
Other islands worth visiting include Palm Tree Island and Al Safia which are around 10 and 15 minutes from Doha by boat.
The Qatar peninsula also covers several islands but those looking to explore beyond Doha’s activity-filled islands have to travel longer.
Shrao, located three hours from Doha by speedboat, is a haven for seabirds and visitors can also enjoy spotting turtles and admiring the small fringe reef on its soft, sandy beach.
Haloul island showcases spectacular views with hills rising to 190ft and its coral reefs and beautiful shoals of coral fish, ideal for scuba divers to explore and observe marine life. Ishat island consists of three flat-topped islets bordered with stunning cliffs.
Fishing has also attracted many people, knowing that Qatar's waters have various kinds such as barracuda and king fish.
The opening of high-end and luxury resort hotels has helped boost Qatar’s sea tourism, according to Sheikh.
The previously uninhabited Banana Island has recently been transformed into a five-star island resort with a shallow rocky side ideal for snorkelling.
While sea tourism is becoming popular, he cited the growing competition in the business with many players offering more services and bringing new ideas into the Qatari market.
“This means customers would be getting better services as well as new offerings,” Sheikh observed.
While prices in Qatar are a bit higher than other GCC destinations such as Dubai, the official said the Qatari market is responding positively.
“I have been in the company for two years and I see a lot of difference since we started,” he pointed out.
The company is now co-ordinating with diving schools to organise trips for their students once or twice a week.
Mourjan Marinas operations manager Mohamed El Newishy echoed the statements of Sheikh, describing Qatar as "a boater’s paradise".
Located on the west coast of the Arabian Gulf and surrounded by water on three sides, Qatar is home to a wealth of cruising and water sports opportunities to explore from luxurious anchoring destinations.