Score a goal with this Middle East tour of Qatar 2022
Planning your trip for the World Cup? Make the most of your visit to Qatar and discover other Middle Eastern gems during the best time of the year to travel to these countries. Exclusive plans, beaches, luxury hotels, and much more…
The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will kick off on 20 November and will run until 18 December in Doha, the capital of Qatar, a West Asian state which, in addition to hosting the most eagerly awaited football event of the year, is a destination that offers a thousand and one possibilities for travelers, being an example of a fusion of tradition and modernity and one of the most fascinating cultures in the world.
Qatar 2022 making history
Although this will be the third time that the tournament will be played on the Asian continent, it is the first time that it will be held in West Asia, in an Arab and Muslim-majority country. It will also be the longest-running World Cup since 1950, as it will be held between November and December 2022, as opposed to the usual June and July.
Skyline of Doha, capital of Qatar and host city of the 2022 FIFA World Cup
This scenario means that traveling to Qatar to coincide with the 22nd edition of the World Cup is also a golden opportunity to get to know the Arab Emirates and other areas of the Middle East and discover the gems hidden in places like Dubai, Sharjah, or the Gulf of Oman. It is also worth remembering that November is the best time to visit this part of the world, as it is when they enjoy the best and mildest temperatures, a good excuse to also enjoy its fantastic beaches and artificial islands.
In this article, we recommend three destinations for your imminent visit to the Middle East, as well as several places to stay during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.
Dubai: luxury, artificial islands, and architecture of the future
The first question on every traveler’s mind is 'why visit Dubai? There are several compelling reasons to travel to this city in the Arabian Desert and the capital of the country of the same name. Firstly, because it is one of the most peculiar destinations in the world, and where tradition, luxury, and technology coexist best, with areas where the historical legacy remains intact and others where the most avant-garde architecture dominates the landscape.
One of the city's greatest attractions is its stratospheric range of shops and shopping centers. In fact, it has the largest in the world, the Dubai Mall, with almost 2,000 shops which makes it a paradise for shopping lovers. But Dubai is much more. It is also the modern art capital of the Middle East, as can be seen in its elegant art galleries and the design fairs and festivals held every year on Alserkal Avenue.
Aerial view of the artificial island Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Another enclave worth visiting in Dubai is The Palm Jumeirah, an artificial island in the shape of a date palm where millionaire mansions coexist with nightclubs and a variety of shops. Its most iconic building is located in a V.I.P. area of the palm, the well-known Atlantis The Palm, which marks the pulse of the city's nightlife. Where to stay in Dubai? On this exclusive island, we find one of the best hotels in Dubai, the Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel. This 5-star hotel with a private beach offers an impressive gastronomic offering and an infinity pool, among many other services that provide a sumptuous experience at the forefront of this luxurious country.
Views of the Dubai skyline from the infinity pool at Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel
Nearby is the Barceló Residences Dubai Marina, an apartment complex - probably the best in the city - surrounded by shops, restaurants, and entertainment in one of Dubai's most elegant districts. And finally, if you prefer to stay in the city center, a good option is the Occidental Al Jaddaf, Dubai; a new concept hotel close to Dubai Creek - the city's natural estuary - and with easy access to Dubai Downtown and other parts of the city.
Sharjah, the emirate of culture
We hear a lot about Dubai, but bordering it to the north, the city of Sharjah is a cultural capital well worth a visit. Its historic area, with restored houses and museums dedicated to Emirati customs, is situated on a stream around which the city grew. Among many other monuments and buildings, it is also home to the Sharjah Fort, a museum that traces the history of the city, which was once a royal residence.
What to visit in Sharjah? Start with Heart of Sharjah, a cultural and historical preservation project in the historic center of Sharjah. It is a complex of traditional buildings that have been restored and converted into museums and educational centers, with a total of 16 museums.
In addition to the Fort, there is the Sharjah Heritage Museum, the Museums of Arabic Calligraphy, Ceramics, Theatre and Handicrafts, and the Bait al Naboodah, a typical traditional Emirati building from the mid-19th century that belonged to the prominent pearl merchant Obaid al Naboodah. A cultural center to note on your visit agenda is the Sharjah Art Foundation, specifically its Rain Room, a unique art installation with a constant flow of artificial rain.
The House of Wisdom is a gigantic library in Sharjah inspired by the original House of Wisdom in Baghdad
Sharjah's reputation as the nation's cultural capital is no coincidence. In addition to its museums, the city is a UNESCO World Book Capital. To commemorate this designation, which took place in 2019, the House of Wisdom was inaugurated; a 12,000 m2 social space for entertainment and cultural exchange, with more than 100,000 books, and architecture that takes the breath away.
A relaxing stroll? Opposite Sharjah's pleasant Corniche is Al Noor Island, an island-turned-park where you can enjoy hours of strolling surrounded by nature. Here you can visit a butterfly farm, get lost in a labyrinth, or do yoga at sunrise. A must in Sharjah. Nor should we forget gastronomy. In Sharjah, there are numerous restaurants where you can try the local cuisine. One of its greatest hits is machbous, a traditional rice dish with different types of meat or fish. Finally, there's nothing better than tasting the delicious masala chai tea.
Where to stay in Sharjah An excellent choice of accommodation is the Occidental Sharjah Grand, a dry hotel (alcohol is not allowed in Sharjah) located on the seafront with a fitness center, an all-inclusive, wellness area, and a great selection of cuisine. Its privileged location and the architectural richness of its surroundings make it easy for guests to visit the city's hotspots.
The Al Noor Mosque on Al Noor Sharjah Island, illuminated at sunrise
Gulf of Oman, a natural oasis in the Middle East
The Sultanate of Oman is a pure desert, covering more than 80% of its territory, and is currently one of the safest and most stable Arab countries. There is no doubt that Oman is a country full of treasures to be discovered. Located on the Arabian Peninsula, it is home to deserts, riverbed oases, and long coastlines. One of the main strengths of this nation adjoining the United Arab Emirates is its natural wealth. Its coasts, beaches, mountains, palm groves, deserts, and cliffs are a spectacle for those in search of tourism connected to the land.
One of the most interesting places to visit is Jebel Sham, the highest mountain in Oman, at 3,028 meters, from where you can get an impressive panoramic view of the area. In the Arabian summer, another must is to visit the wadis; dry or seasonal riverbeds that form in the arid desert areas, where beautiful pools of crystal-clear water are created where you can take a dip.
Sunrise at Jebel Sham in Oman
Oman's strategic position led the country to build castles and forts all over the country. The Nakhl or Bahla Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) can be visited
Like most of the Middle East, Oman is an excellent example of tradition and modernity. Since its development began in the 1970s, the country has continued to evolve in terms of architecture and technology, but without abandoning its roots. A good example of this is the Royal Opera House, where cutting-edge technology meets classical Omani architecture.
The views of the infinity pool at the Barceló Mussanah Resort, Oman
An ideal base for exploring Oman is the Barceló Mussanah Resort, Sultanate of Oman, on the beachfront in the south of the Al Batinah region, one of the most populated in the country. This modern and exclusive beach resort is located just 45 minutes from the International Airport (MCT) and the country's capital, Muscat.
Night view of Al Ameen Mosque in Oman
The capital also hides gems worth visiting, such as the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a paradigm of modern Islamic art; Mutrah, known as the white city, with its famous souk and narrow streets; the Alam Palace, the residence of Sultan Qaboos; or the Al Ameen Mosque, an impressive mosque that, at sunset, its illumination shows its greatest splendor.