All photos by Chantelle D’mello
Hundreds of Qatar residents have been flocking to several new activities set up around town as part of the country’s first summer festival.
The first events opened on Aug. 4, and include Corniche water shows and an “entertainment city” set up at the Doha Exhibition Center (DEC).
The former runs at half-hour intervals from 7 to 11pm daily, while Entertainment City is open from 3 to 11pm.
Some of the other organized attractions, like an inflatable water park in Al Wakrah, have not yet taken off due to the windy weather.
The festival, which is set to run for seven weeks until Sept. 27, is the brainchild of the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), and part of its long-term push to expand tourism offerings and woo more visitors.
Water works show
The Corniche water show, a 10-minute show that combines sound, waterworks, and LED lighting, is the culmination of over two months of planning between QTA, events managing firm Hexagon and German companies Fischer Appelt and Flash Art.
Speaking to Doha News, Alihan Tokmak, a Turkish expat who works for Hexagon, said the materials used in the set up, which include infrastructure made from inflatable tubes, was all flown in from Germany.
Additionally, 10 technicians from special effects company Flash Art, have also come in to help with the shows, which were only commissioned last month.
Response to the show has been largely positive, with residents marveling at the experience, while lamenting the show’s short duration.
“We expected it to be longer,” said one Indian expat who was taking in the spectacle this week while standing by the shoreline next to the Al Mourjan Restaurant and Ory the Oryx statue.
“It was a great show – I think one of the biggest (water shows) we’ve seen in Qatar. Everything worked well – the lights and music – but we want it to go on.”
Meanwhile, a few kilometers north of the water show, the DEC teemed with families who had stopped by to check out the newly set up entertainment city.
Unlike previous years, in which most DEC event offerings catered to small children, there are many activities for older kids this time around, including a skateboarding rink and a wall climbing and climbing garden zone.
However, the latter rides have yet to open because certain parts are still waiting to clear customs, a technical manager said.
Parking is available at the DEC, or visitors can use a free shuttle service from the Q-Post office off of the Corniche from 3pm to 10pm on weekdays and 2pm to 11pm on weekends.
Entertainment city is free to enter, but rides and games require tickets that can be bought in denominations of QR5, QR10, QR20 and QR50.
The hall is divided into six zones: Interactive Sports, Summer Freeze, Extreme Adventure, Kids’, Food and Shops and Stage.
The Interactive Sports zone includes a segway ride that costs QR30 for 15 minutes, and a remote-controlled race car track that is QR30 for 30 minutes and QR15 for 15 minutes.
The zone appears to be most popular among young boys, who lined up to have a go at the race cars from a booth built atop a staircase that overlooked the race track.
While no official age limit for using the segway is posted, a staff working at the ride said that only children ages six years and older were allowed to participate.
Another big draw at the DEC is an acrobatics zone that features professional acrobats who teach children how to juggle, use a trampoline, and aerial silk – performing acrobatics in the air while hanging from pieces of fabric.
Kids five years and older are allowed in this zone, at a price of QR30 for 30 minutes.
Speaking to Doha News, Mariusz Joiniec, who worked as an acrobat for 20 years before joining management, said that the event had had a spectacular start.
“It’s great to see kids enjoying themselves like this, doing things that they would not otherwise have the chance to do. We even had a queue before!”
He added that the crew, staffed entirely with acrobats, puts on two performances during the day – one around 7pm after evening prayers, and another at around 9pm.
Other attractions include a tubing station, albeit without snow (real or fake), an inflatable igloo and other winter-themed activities at the Summer Freeze Zone.
While response to the city has been positive, some residents said that the activities seemed to cater more toward older children.
Speaking to Doha News, 32-year-old Indian expat Rincy Lalu said:
“My 5-year-old daughter is having a great time,” she said, gesturing to a young girl posed at the top of a ball pit in the Summer Freeze zone. “But my 10-month-old kid is asleep!”
The space also includes numerous local Qatari restaurants like Gharissa Ice Cream, and others serving up different cuisines.
Have you tried any summer fest activities yet? Thoughts?