Doha, Oct 18 (EFE).- Breathtaking sunsets, exhilarating sand dune tours in a vast desert and spectacular views of an inland sea are just some of the wonders tourists can explore in Qatar during the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
Winter in the Qatari desert begins during the tournament, which takes place from November 20 to December 18.
The white sand dunes become home for those wishing to camp in the desert or take a swim in one of the world’s rare places where the desert meets the sea.
“The desert here is very different from what you imagined. The sand here is much more white in color. It is not like red-orange so it’s quite different from probably what most people expected it to look like. The desert has a lot of spaces that are highly compressed ground so they are more like driving on a highway,” Berthold Trenkel, chief operating officer of Qatar Tourism Authority, tells Efe.
Taking a 4×4 ride into the desert with experienced drivers at high speeds, riding camels, kite surfing, hunting with falcons, and sand sledding are just some of the top activities on offer to get a taste of the traditional Bedouin lifestyle.
“If you want action and adrenaline, you can go to the desert; driving, going with a land cruiser across the sand dunes, sand boarding, that is one thing, and if you are tired of the desert, get into the water,” Trenkel says.
The breathtaking scenery of the inland sea, known locally as the Khor al-Adaid, is where the dunes and the sea meet, painting an unforgettable, unique picture.
Nestled in the country’s southeast and recognized by UNESCO as Qatar’s largest natural reserve, Khor al-Adaid’s ecosystems make it a major attraction for nature and wildlife lovers.
“Here, the desert is eastward facing so the sun is rising above the water… we all typically live in cities and maybe we have mountains but that is how it is very different”, says Trenkel.
The inland sea there is a large area that spreads over 15 kilometers from north to south and 12 kilometers from east to west, bordering Saudi Arabia through a narrow channel.
The underwater ecosystem houses several endangered species such as dugongs, the enormous vegetarian mammals that come up to the surface for air.
The desert has always been inhabited by Bedouin tribes living in farming and fishing settlements, a lifestyle that has now almost completely disappeared, except for those camel herders taking advantage of grazing areas.
“For the locals, the desert of course is special. It is the prime thing especially for the local Qatari man, who likes to spend his weekend in the desert. And you will find what in local terms is called protacabin so think of a trailer that people park in the desert to put up like a camping site”, he says.
Famous for living in tents made of animal hide, Bedouins have maintained a nomadic way of life, always looking for agricultural regions with water.
It is these areas that help them keep their nomadic lifestyle alive.
“These camping sites usually run from October-November to March-April. So it is a six-month season where the weather is beautiful and people like to get away in the desert. Maybe you make a bonfire there but you just enjoy quiet time with your friends. You have some tea or karak or you drink some Arabic coffee”, he says.
Learning how they adapt to water shortages, sand, and high temperatures in the summer is another thing that visitors can discover during their trip to Qatar.EFE