Qatar Summer Festival is back for 2016 and there’s a whole host of amazing entertainment, shopping, cultural activities and promotions taking place throughout August! FACT brings you just some of the exciting places and activities to explore with QSF…

MIA

Colour Your Summer once more with Qatar Summer Festival’s 2016 edition, taking place all over Doha this August! Whether you’re young or just young at heart, join in for a creative month long fiesta of entertainment, activities, shows, promotions and non-stop fun for all the family.

WHAT YOU CAN LOOK FORWARD TO THIS SUMMER…

QATAR SHOPPING FESTIVAL

Bargains galore! Spectacular festival discounts on top brands, fashion, accessories, watches and jewellery, electronics and much more at participating outlets throughout Qatar. This includes many of the country’s leading malls and top retailers like Al Khor Mall, City Centre Doha, Dar Al Salam Mall, Ezdan Mall, Hyatt Plaza, Lagoona Mall, Landmark Mall, The Gate Mall, and Villaggio Mall.

SHOWS & PERFORMANCES

QSF will have live entertainment for all age groups. From cool and quirky antics, to music and dance, theatre and more, there will be amazing shows to attend by your favourite artists.

RAFFLES & PRIZES

QSF offers you the excitement of a chance to win great prizes! A range of spectacular offers, raffle draws and promotional giveaways will be taking place nationwide as part of the month long festivities.

ENTERTAINMENT CITY

Colour, paints, highlighters, pencils and everything else you can imagine will come to life at QSF’s signature Entertainment City to help you and the family Colour Your Summer! The Entertainment City will feature rides, amusements and activities for the whole family, shopping options and food and beverage outlets – all providing a colourful space to spend time with your nearest and dearest.

Pearl Qatar

FESTIVAL HOTEL DEALS

The festival has partnered with a number of Qatar’s top hotels to bring you a range of great accommodation offers – including free extra room nights – to make sure you and your family enjoy an affordable, fun and unique vacation experience.

CULTURE, DINING, SIGHTSEEING AND OTHER EXCITING ACTIVITIES…

From galleries to architecture, and theatre to music – preserving and celebrating culture is a way of life in Qatar, which has a rich variety of cultural activities to suit every taste. Qatar boasts a lively entertainment scene with something for everyone. Movie buffs can enjoy commercial film screenings at the cinema, while music lovers can relax to jazz and classical pieces, as well as performances by Western and Middle Eastern artists. From the serenity of the desert to the lively alleys of the souq, impressive coastal fortresses to dramatic high-rise towers, deserted sandy beaches and mangrove lagoons to elegant residential districts, manicured green parks and fabulous luxury hotels, Qatar has numerous sightseeing gems, too.

Souq Waqif

Here are some of our top picks to visit and join in during QSF…

SHEIKH FAISAL BIN QASSIM AL THANI MUSEUM

At his farm in Al Sheehaniya, 20km west of Doha, Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s museum has a huge collection of artefacts including Qatari and Bedouin heritage, vintage cars and motorbikes, and the farm is home to Arabian oryx, gazelles, and peacocks, too. Sheikh Faisal also has a museum in Al Dafna (West Bay), designed to offer tourists a taste of Qatari, Arab and Iranian culture.

Visitors are advised to contact the museum in advance, open from Sunday to Thursday 9am to 6pm.

MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART

Designed by noted architect I M Pei, the museum building rises dramatically from the sea at the end of Doha’s Corniche. The MIA, which ranks among the world’s major cultural landmarks, presents many of the finest examples of Islamic art produced from the 7th through to the 20th century. Adjacent to the MIA is Al Riwaq Doha, a temporary exhibition space for local exhibitions, as well as shows by international artists. Opening times vary, so check out www.mia.org.qa for more information.

TRADITIONAL BUILDINGS

Qatar Museums Authority has been active in restoring many of Qatar’s old buildings. Al Wajba Castle dates back to 1893, while the houses at Al Nejada date back more than 60 years and are built from traditional materials. Also worth visiting is the Sheikh Ghanim bin Abdulrahman House, a landmark on Al Wakra beach, and the villages at Al Jumail.

Katara Minaret

MSHEIREB ENRICHMENT CENTRE

The Msheireb Enrichment Centre celebrates the history of Qatar’s traditions, culture and heritage, while outlining the country’s extraordinary recent growth and vision for the future. The floating landmark also shows Msheireb Properties’ plans to regenerate the heart of Doha into a a vibrant downtown, with interactive presentations and gallery events.

SOUQ WAQIF

Souq Waqif was originally a Bedouin weekend market. Now completely restored and renovated, the souq is a maze of narrow alleyways lined with small shops, offering souvenirs, spices, perfumes and traditional clothing. Stop for a coffee at a café or dine in one of the district’s eight boutique hotels. Don’t forget to visit the Gold Souq, where you will be tempted with all manner of gems and jewellery.

SHOPPING

Splashing out or going on a bargain hunt is always fun in Qatar. From buzzing souqs to glitzy arcades, you’ll find everything from the latest fashion and electronics to fascinating souvenirs and craft products. There are luxury brands, high street favourites and everything from spices to perfumes. Malls offer an abundance of international brands, dining choices and entertainment venues. They vary in size, but all provide an opportunity for a great day’s shopping. During QSF look out for special promotions when you’re out browsing!

EATING OUT

Qatar’s culinary scene features local and international chefs serving up a dazzling array of treats from world cuisines. Qatar’s gastronomic options range from gourmet dining at a five-star hotel to fast food and everything in-between. The choices are virtually unlimited, and even those with hard-to-please palates will find the eye-catching dishes hard to resist, while those who love to experiment will be spoiled for choice. During QSF a huge number of fivestar hotels, gourmet bistros, cafes and coffee shops and foodie destinations like Katara, The Pearl-Qatar, Souq Waqif and Al Wakra, will be running specific dining deals for you to enjoy. From Opal by Gordon Ramsay at The St. Regis Doha, to the popular Shater Abbas, classic dining at Mamig, and coffeehouses like Tim Hortons, there’s a cuisine and deal to suit every palate and pocket. Whether you want a shawarma and karak or a wagyu steak and glass of bubbly, there’s something to cater for everyone.

Katara

FUN ZONES AND THEME PARKS

Children – and adults – will have a great time at one of the many amusement parks around town. Why not visit Circusland at Landmark Mall (4487 6333) and Fun City At City Center-Doha mall (4483 9501) both have rides, games and large activity zones suitable for the whole family. Gondolania, at Villaggio mall, is the biggest indoor theme park in the GCC with fun for all ages. On offer are an Olympic size ice-skating rink, gondola boat rides, roller coaster rides, bumper cars, go-kart racing and bowling. Call 4450 7873 (ice arena), 4403 9800 (theme park), or visit gondolania.com. Located in City Center- Doha mall, Winter Wonderland (4483 9162) is a modern recreation centre for families to enjoy bowling, ice-skating and billiards.

TOURS

The best way to explore Qatar off-road is to join an organised tour. Local tour companies such as Arabian Adventures (44361461, www.arabianadventureqatar.net) or Regency Holidays (4434 4444) offer a choice of half-day or full-day safaris, as well as overnight camping trips. Other popular tours take in heritage sites, such as the dramatic UNESCO recognised Al Zubarah Fort and Archaeological Site, and key city sights around Doha’s Corniche, including the dhows, souqs and the falconry market.

DUNE BASHING AND DESERT SAFARIS

Local tour companies such as Gulf Adventures (4422 1868, gulf-adventures.com) and Qatar International Adventures (4455 3954, qia-qatar.com) will take groups to Sealine Beach Resort for dune bashing, or will arrange a desert safari, venturing across the sands to Khor Al Adaid. Many safaris include time to relax in Bedouin-style tents and listen to live traditional music, while for the more active there is beach volleyball and sand skiing. If staying overnight in the camp don’t miss the sunrise over the dunes.

Desert Tours

MUSIC

For classical music enthusiasts, Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (qatarphilharmonicorchestra.org) regularly holds concerts at Katara in the Opera House. Katara (4408 0000, www. katara.net) also plays host to local and international artists in the amphitheatre. For those that love jazz, look no further than the world famous Jazz at Lincoln Centre (4446 0226, www.jalcdoha.com) at the St. Regis Doha hotel.

AQUA PARK

Cool off in the summer sun at Qatar’s first water theme park. Attractions include a pirate-themed children’s activity pool, slides and a lazy river, a drop from the Space Boat, and the African Village especially designed for the little ones. Friday is family day; Tuesdays are for ladies only. Call 4490 5872 for more information. E-tickets are available online at www.aquaparkqatar.com.

GOLF

Visiting golfers are welcome at Doha Golf Club (4496 0755,dohagolfclub.com), home to the prestigious PGA European Tour event, the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Alongside the 18-hole championship course is a 9-hole academy course, putting green and world-class practice facilities. The Club offers individual and group coaching by PGA qualified instructors for both adults and children.

BUS TOURS

The Doha Bus sightseeing tour includes a complimentary guide with a full colour route map. Commentary is available in seven different languages: English, Arabic, German, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean and Brazilian. Visitors can use the West Bay luxury bus service to travel around this busy district – stops include the Corniche and the City Centre Doha and The Gate malls (www.dohabus.com).

CINEMA

Film fans have a wealth of choices in Qatar, with cineplexes in most of the malls, including 13 theatres plus an IMAX 3D at Cineco 13, Villaggio (4451 7001) and 14 theatres at Grand Cinecentre at City Center-Doha (4483 9032). Doha Film Institute (4420 0505, dohafilminstitute.com) has year-round screenings of independent films from around the world.

WATER SPORTS

Have fun with jet skis and wakeboarding at The Diplomatic Club (4484 7450, www.thediplomaticclub.com) and Sealine Beach Resort (4476 5299, www.merweb. com), or hire a paddleboat with Ronautica at The Pearl-Qatar (4495 3894, www.ronauticame.com). Kayaking is becoming more popular in Qatar – try it in the mangroves with Entalek (3023 3207, www.entalek.org) or Paddle Qatar (5549 0895, www.paddleqatar.com).

BOAT TRIPS AND FISHING

The crystal clear blue waters along Qatar’s shoreline are ideal for spending a few lazy hours on board a boat. Dhow trips are readily available at Doha’s Corniche, taking you around the bay or across to Al Safliya Island. Ronautica at The Pearl-Qatar (4495 3894, ronauticame.com) will take visitors on a tour around the island or on fishing trips. Fishing is also available at The Diplomatic Club (4484 7450, thediplomaticclub.com) and Katara Beach (4408 1017 or 7710 0151, katara.net).

Qatar

KHOR AL ADAID

One of Qatar’s finest treasures and a tourist hotspot. Enjoy the crescent-shaped sand dunes that rise above the shallow tidal lake. Local tour companies such as Gulf Adventures (4422 1868, gulfadventures.com) organise day trips and overnight camps and provide drives along the dunes, as well as picnics, barbecues, folkloric entertainment and occasionally, camel riding and sandboarding.

HORSE RIDING

Equestrians are welcome at Al Samariya Stables (5513 6661) on the grounds of Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s farm, west of Doha. Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (4480 7413, qrec.gov.qa) has a riding school open to the public, with 45-minute classes for adults and children. Horse and camel rides are also available along the shoreline at Sealine Beach Resort (4476 5299, www.merweb.com).

JABAL AL JASSASIYA PETROGLYPHS

Al Jassasiya is one of a dozen rock carving sites in Qatar; this major site, northeast of Doha, was discovered in 1974. The 874 carvings consist of rows of cup marks, rosettes, ships and fire pits of pre Islamic times. It is believed that the cup marks were used for playing ancient board games, one of which was called mancala, known in Qatar as al haloosa or al huwaila.

Doha

GO: Organised by Qatar Tourism Authority, Qatar Summer Festival runs from August 1 to 31. Visit www.qatarsummerfestival.qa for the full list of activities, events and more information.