By Christine Gerber-Rutt
The addition of 20,000 people to an already taxed infrastructure is bound to create some gridlock. For the next two weeks as Qatar hosts COP18, Doha will be the stomping grounds of the world and you might not be able to get a seat at your favorite restaurant. To circumvent inconvenience as much as possible, try to avoid Education City, the Convention Center and any places that might be listed by the Qatar Tourism Authority.
And in your free time, here are a few off-the-grid places you could try:
Shopping & Eating
- Become hyper-local: If you can’t stay at home, stay as close to home as possible. Consider this a chance to try out the take-away around the corner.
- Barwa Village: From the outset, Barwa Village has been criticized for being off the main grid. That may serve to it’s advantage during the Climate Summit. It’s got almost everything, from a butcher to a marble and granite shop, and includes a mosque, grocery store and – my favorite – an Idly Factory. The only thing it doesn’t have is an outdoor play area for children. Plenty of parking is available. Located just off Airport Road near Al Wakra.
- Gate Mall: Aside from Jones the Grocer, one of the most popular restaurants in town, this high-end mall is often empty – even though it has generous parking, a few restaurants, cafes and shops. Perfect for a crowd-free stroll and some window shopping. Located across from City Center mall.
- Al Khor Mall: To the north of Doha, the new Al Khor Mall is still relatively undiscovered. It boasts the usual assortment of shops from Body Shop, Starbucks and Lulu Hypermarket, as well as restaurants, but also has a large Daiso and a Payless Shoe Source. Coming soon: A cinema. Pass the Doha Gulf Club mall and go down Al Shamal road for about 60km.
- Abu Dhalouf Park: This park has two playgrounds, open areas for picnics and a beach access, which is nice for wading but not suitable for swimming. The park is quiet most days, except for Fridays when local residents relax there on their day off. Located at the northern edge of Qatar in the district of Shamal.
- Lusail Marina Promenade: Newly opened and still off the communal radar, this is the place to do some yacht gawking. The general public can easily access the marina and take a bit of a stroll on the boardwalk while getting a breath of fresh sea air. The rest of Lusail is under construction, but signs make it clear where to drive to get to the parking. The main access point is at the round about just past the Golf Club on Shamal Road.
- QAWS: Adopt a dog for an hour. The dogs at QAWS are always happy to go for a walk around the shaded path around the center. You get some fresh air, exercise and some dog loving. Don’t like dogs? No worries. The kittens and cats also savor attention from visitors.
- Royal Thai Lady Spa: This salon offers massages that are a bit off the beaten path. Here, your muscles will be stretched and pummeled until you groan for about QR130 for a one hour massage. Next to the Lady Thai massage is Star Massage for Men, a massage studio just for guys. Located on Al Waab Street.
- Essence Spa: Here’s a place that offers a 5-star experience outside of the 5-star hotel realm. They offer the usual assortment of services: manicure, pedicure, facial, waxing, massage. Located on Al Waab Street.
- Lucia Lounge: A newcomer to the spa scene, this salon offers all the regular spa and hair treatments, but also offer temporary tattoos. Lucia is owned by a graduate of the esteemed Tajmeel Beauty School.
What are some of your favorite off-the-grid places to go?
Christine Gerber-Rutt is a 3-time contributor to the Qatar Residents’ Guide entitled Live, Work, Explore. She writes for various magazines & has an up-and-coming column in Good Housekeeping Middle East. Follow her blog at Just Kooki.
Credit: Photo of Abu Dhalouf Park by Christine Gerber-Rutt