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30 April 2018 01:27 pm

Top 5 non-beach summer destinations outside of Doha to drive to this weekend!

Sonkie
Sonkie
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The ILQ team always believes that no country is lackluster when it comes to the attractions that it offers. Some are just sandwiched by its mainstream neighbors, waiting to be discovered.

One great example is the country where several millions of expatriates choose to spend half of their lives in -- Qatar. The capital Doha is known for its futuristic skyscrapers and other ultramodern architecture inspired by ancient Islamic design -- it is also where nearly 92% of the country's whole population resides. From these descriptions, one will know that Doha is indeed a concrete jungle where lots of fast-paced transactions happen. 

The next thing that you would want to do is have a mini-vacation somewhere not too far. 

But where?

Whenever it’s the weekend, expatriates of all nationalities always make sure to gather for a little bit of sun while also exploring the outdoor scene away from monotonous office works that they struggle to beat five or six days a week. Indeed, Fridays and Saturdays are best spent with friends especially when you’re all inside a moving vehicle off to somewhere remote and away from the city. 

Going for an unplanned getaway in Qatar is not as hard as one would think it to be. Besides the fact that the country is relatively small in size, every popular landmark is also extremely accessible as long as you have the correct navigation and there’s no traffic on the major streets, that’s why it’s really commendable to do such on a weekend.

So what are some of the undiscovered places that you can visit in Qatar apart from Doha's numerous malls, the famous Souq Waqif, and the Corniche? If you continue scrolling, we've listed the Top 5 non-beach summer destinations outside of Doha that you can flock to right now! 

So what else could it be? A road trip!!! Seatbelts on, this is going to be a fun one!

1. Al Zubara Fort

Al Zubara Fort

A UNESCO world heritage site declared in 1993, the Al Zubara Fort is one of the most expected entries on this list -- just because it is also one of Qatar’s most iconic symbols (next to Doha's popular skyline and Corniche). Before turning into a museum in the recent days, it was formerly a military fortress. People come here to have a quick glimpse of Qatar’s history as well as its Arab neighbors’ role in shaping its aspirations and legacy. The structure of the fortress is quite impressive: its thick walls are made of coral stones. Once inside, you can explore the ground floor where the courtyard is located as well as the 15-meter-deep well. The citadel also has a second floor, however you will not be allowed by the security personnel to go up. For girls, you might be needing to cover yourself up if you are wearing above-the-knee shorts or skirts. The guard can lend you one just in case you don’t pass the parameter.

2. Ruins of Al Jumail

Ruins of Al Jumail

Deemed abandoned and forsaken, this hidden gem is so underrated that even a 4x4 vehicle will for sure struggle to reach the very site. Once through the rocky entrance, you and your friends will be rewarded with an almost-setting sun (if you arrive during the magic hour), a calm weather, and a limited but rare wildlife. Our team was able to spot some neon-colored fishes here and there as well as a few hedgehogs. Some people say that the ruins of Al Jumail -- together with Al Areesh and Al Khuwair -- is haunted especially once the darkness blankets the entirety and the moon ascends, that’s why it's advisable to call it a day once you’re done clicking sunset pictures especially if your group is composed of mostly girls. You never know what lies beneath those tall shrubs.

3. Al Shahaniyah camel track

Al Shahaniyah camel track
(Source: www.kaihenrikbarth.com)

A long and almost-endless race track where camels get their foot dirty occasionally from October to April every year, Al Shahaniyah allows spectators of all nationalities to watch racing camels -- and hopefully learn more about Qatari culture -- for free! Visit during either a Friday or a Saturday to witness the action! Many visitors are praising the Qataris' dedication in holding such events and their effort of keeping the camels well-groomed. If you’re a little unlucky and there's no camel race going on, you can just grab your camera and pose against the race track's perfectly-white sand scenery. Ladies are encouraged to come in a flowy white dress for the perfect Instagram click -- just double check if there really are no camels running around!

4. Film City at Zekreet

Film City is an uninhabited and purely artificial city. It was built for an Arabic TV series entitled Eyaal Al Theeb (Sons of the Wolf) --  which was first aired back in 2000. Despite the long drive from Doha (80 km), the site is relatively easy to reach with a 4×4 car. Wildlife in the neighborhood (oryx and ostriches) is a delight for kids and offers great photo opportunities. If you are on a short stopover with Qatar Airways in Doha and fancies an adventure, this is one of the most picturesque places to discover. You just need to rent a 4×4 or have friends who can take you there. And while nothing is authentic, the buildings show how a traditional village in the region might have looked in the past. There is a small shop that sells potato chips and bottled water/soda. If the weather is nice, you could walk into the oasis next to Film City. An artificial drinking pond sometimes attracts a herd of Oryx grazing nearby. 

5. Musfur Sinkhole

We had the opportunity just recently to check out Musfur Sinkhole's depths one sunny afternoon! Driving from Doha, it's best to equip yourself with a GPS app so that you'll not get lost and reach the location before sundown! But, if you're feeling old-school and are up for a challenge, then it's accessible 40-45 kilometres from the capital heading west on Salwa Road for about 13 miles until you see the signboard for Umm Ash Shubrum. From there, our advice would be to sacrifice the heroism and just trust Google Maps -- as you need to go off-road and the path to the actual sinkhole is as bumpy as they come! From a nutshell, the sinkhole is one of Qatar's most well-kept natural wonders. Believed to have been formed 325,000 to 500,000 years ago during the mid-Pleistocene Era, this mostly-unexplored cave system has an opening of about 40 feet across by 16 feet high. Warning: Contrary to what several people are spreading, there is no body of water at the bottom of the sinkhole. So better leave those swimming trunks at home!

Have you tried road tripping in Qatar yet? What are some of the interesting sights that you've spotted along the way that our list have missed? If you have anything more to add, drop us a line in the comment section below and also, don't forget to like and share this article -- it keeps us going!

(Cover image courtesy of IStock Photos)