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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Doha dubbed one of the world’s most unfriendly cities for tourists

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

International travelers have ranked Doha as one of the world’s least friendly cities, describing it as “ugly” and having “horrible” traffic, according to results of a new survey.

Qatar’s capital came in at 10th least friendly in the Condé Nast Traveler’s list of World’s Unfriendliest Cities. It fared better than the Nigerian city of Lagos (9th) and Detroit, which came in 8th place.

Newark in the US state of New Jersey took the dubious title of least friendly place to visit.

One reader even described it as “one of the saddest looking cities I have ever seen.”

Readers’ choice

The magazine’s annual readers’ choice awards asked travelers to rate world cities according to how friendly they have been to visit.

It used subjective factors such as the warmth of the welcome one gets upon arrival, ease of navigation around town and chance encounters such as “an outgoing local showing you the way.”

A total of 128,000 readers took part in the survey during the last year.

The magazine has not detailed its methodology, but provides a descriptive paragraph for each entry.

‘Rude’ people

With Doha, it noted that visitor numbers are up, partly due to Qatar Airways’ ongoing expansion of its route network.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But readers’ impressions of the city haven’t been too positive, according to the magazine:

“Though Doha has a beautiful airport, our readers are not yet enamored on the city, calling it ‘ugly,’ the traffic ‘horrible’ and the men ‘rude.'”

Just ahead of Doha was Lagos in Nigeria, which was described as “expensive and dangerous,” with “horrible traffic (and) a terrible stench of trash everywhere.”

Newark replaced last year‘s title-holder Caracas, while the Mexican city of Tijuana ranked second most unfriendly globally, thanks to travelers’ descriptions of it being “dirty and unsafe.”

However, some noted that it is showing some hope of change for the better.

Friendliest cities

In contrast, the charming southern hospitality, safety and ease of walking around the South Carolina city of Charlestown helped earn it the distinction of world’s friendliest city.

Sydney harbor
Sydney harbor

Charleston knocked Australia’s Sydney from the top spot it held for the previous two years.

However, the sunshine city still scored well, coming in second this year due to its “beautiful, friendly people.”

Four US cities also made the cut, but no Asian, African or Middle Eastern cities made the most friendliest list.

Attracting visitors

Though it fared poorly with Conde Nast Traveler readers, Qatar’s perceived safety and Muslim-friendliness are helping it attract plenty of visitors.

Earlier this year, it was ranked second safest country in the world by the Golden Visa 2015 World Safety Index.

It also moved up three spots in the latest Global Muslim Travel Index and was named the fifth friendliest vacation destination in the world for Muslims thanks to its halal offerings.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s tourism authorities have ambitious plans to develop the state as an attractive destination for international visitors, with a target of receiving up to 7.4 million travelers by 2030.

So far this year, 1.4 million visitors came to Qatar. Nearly half were from the GCC, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said earlier this month.

While this is 6 percent fewer than the same period last year, the ongoing summer festival and upcoming cruise season are expected to help improve visitor numbers by the end of the year, the authority added.

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