The beginning of our late-November trip to
Qatar, was blessed with beautiful weather. While
the rain, sleet, and snow of late autumn pounded my Canadian
compatriots in Toronto, I sported a t-shirt and a big smile,
immersed in the more bearable 25C (77F) temperature of Doha.
The timing was perfect for a dhow expedition.
Dhows are the traditional Arab sailing vessels, which once
carried resilient ancestral Qatari
pearlers to the rich
oyster fields of the Persian Gulf. Today, the ships have
become symbols for the city of Doha and are one of the few
visible remainders of Qatar's life before natural
tourists, a dhow voyage offers the perfect opportunity to
see Doha's modern skyline and to escape the hustle, bustle,
and traffic of the city.
The general specs of our chartered dhow reflected what I had
observed about Doha: a constant battle between appearances
and reality. Featuring a wooden body, and even a bowsprit,
the dhow certainly looked authentic from the outside.
However, upon closer observation you could see that there
was electricity, a washroom, and no masts. Like the other
heritage attractions of Doha, the dhow was a reproduction.
As we raced towards our island destination, we sat on
comfortable cushions, bathed in the sun, and enjoyed cold
drinks. Upon arrival at the island, which was little more
than a sandbar with a sole sunbaked hut, we went swimming in
the teal-coloured Gulf waters and were treated to a
delicious meal consisting of rice, salad, hummus, and
various types of kebab. There were other dhows moored around
us, and we learned that in addition to swimming it was also
possible to rent jet-skis, inflatable banana boat tows, or
After relaxing for approximately an hour, it was time to
return to port. Our trip back was uneventful, and I chose to
lie in the golden Arabian sunlight to take a powernap. Upon
arrival at port, I felt relaxed and jubilant.
The dhow trip is recommended to anyone visiting Doha.
Although there are other locations to view parts of Doha's
emerging skyline, the dhow is the only way to view it all at
once and from several directions. Furthermore, on a hot day
there is no better way to escape Qatar's heat and dust. So
picture yourself putting your feet up, cold drink in hand,
while the soothing Gulf winds blow across your face. Your