Outdoor Activities in Qatar
<em>A guide to the outdoors in Qatar. Activities covered include windsurfing, kitesurfing, sand boarding, blokarting, desert driving, diving and fishing. Information is also given on the country’s nature reserves...</em>
Outdoor activities take place all year in Qatar because of the warm subtropical climate. Information is given below on the following:
Water sports have become very popular in Qatar, reflecting the warmth of the water and the length of coastline available. There is good infrastructure for water sports and lessons are readily available.
Windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing
Windsurfing and kitesurfing are both popular in Qatar, though very windy days are not common. When the shamal wind blows in summer conditions can be perfect for windsurfing. Kitesurfing is often a better option as it can be practised in lighter winds and is easy to learn, particularly for experienced windsurfers. The warm waters of the area make water sports fun to practise.
Fuwairit beach, 80 Km north of Doha and the lagoon at Zeekret, which is particularly good for beginners, are both popular windsurfing and kitesurfing spots in Qatar.
Sailing is very popular in the Arabian Gulf and the Qatar International Regatta is a major annual event which contributes to world sailing rankings. The Doha Sailing Club promotes the sport in the area offering tuition for all levels, competitions and a social hub for sailing and rowing in the area. They have facilities for various types of boat including Optimists and Lasers. It is also possible to learn to windsurf at the Doha Sailing Club. Their website includes information on weather and tides in the area. The Doha Sailing Association also holds weekly and monthly races for laser class boats.
- To find out more about the Doha Sailing Club: Click here
The warm clear waters of the Gulf are great for diving and are home to a range of marine wildlife. Divers can spot many fish, rays, sea snakes as well as dolphins and turtles.
Most diving in the country is shore diving, though there are also a number of wrecks to explore further from the shore. Popular spots include the Old Club Reef in Messaid, near the Sealine Beach Resort. It has an artificial reef and is a good place to spot blue angel fish, grouper and barracuda. The nearby New Club Reef is also recommended though there are usually less fish to be seen. The Inland Sea at Udaid is home to an abundance of fish and is a sheltered area with small reefs. People interested in wreck diving should head to Al-Sharqi near Halool Island. Around the metal wreck submerged here there are lots of fish, including clown fish.
For people new to diving there are a number of diving centres along the Qatar coast which run courses and hire out equipment. The generally calm sea conditions make Qatar an excellent place to learn to dive. There are also a number of diving clubs in Qatar which offer the chance to meet other people interested in the sport and provide regular organised dives.
- For further information about diving in Qatar: Click here
Fishing is very popular in Qatar. The waters off Doha are home to hundreds of species of fish including Anglefish, Puffers, Dorado, Mackerel and a deep water grouper known locally as Hammour. Places on charter boats can be booked through many of the hotels in Doha.
- For further information about fishing in Qatar: Click here
As Qatar is a desert country a number of sand sports are very popular.
The blokart, a wind powered go-kart was invented in New Zealand in 2000 and blokarting is now a rapidly growing land based sailing sport. It allows people to experience sailing without being at sea and racing is very popular as the karts can go very fast. It has been practised in Qatar since 2006 in the desert and on beaches. People interested in trying blokarting should contact the Doha Sailing Club. It offers training for complete beginners and organises racing and social events.
- For information on blokarting: Click here
- To arrange a training session with the Doha Sailing Club: Click here
Sand boarding and sand skiing
Sand boarding is a similar sport to snowboarding except that it is practised on sand dunes rather than high mountains. The beaches and desert of Qatar offer endless sand boarding opportunities. The Sealine Beach resort is a popular place for sand boarding. There are a number of desert touring companies who organise trips out into the dunes for more adventurous boarding. Sand skiing, where dunes are ridden using traditional style skis is also popular. The inland sea or Khor Al Adaid has many giant sand dunes perfect for practising both sports. The area can only be reached using a four-wheel drive vehicle and it is advisable to go with someone who knows the region well or one of the many local tour operators.
Off-roading and desert safari camping
Exploring the Qatari desert in a four-wheel drive vehicle, quad bike or dune buggy and camping are popular pastimes. There are a number of tour operators who offer guided exploratory tours of the desert and evening or overnight safari camping. Some tour operators offer desert driving lessons for beginner off-roaders, and there are a handful of off-road driving clubs for 4x4 enthusiasts. Expats also use online forums to team up with other drivers as it's highly inadvisable to go off-roading without at least one other vehicle in convoy.
More than a quarter of the land in Qatar is designated as a natural reserve. These reserves offer the chance to explore the Qatari landscape, history and its wildlife. Some of the main reserves are:
- Al Thakhira is a stretch of coast at the northern end of the Al Khor Corniche. Much of the coast is salt flats, or sabkha, which becomes like quicksand, and very treacherous when it is wet. The area is very popular with bird watchers and for exploring the area’s mangroves
- Umm Tais is a protected area of islets, mangrove forests, beaches and sand bars. It is home to lots of bird and marine life and has an important beach for nesting turtles. On the mainland there are the remains of the ancient village of Al Mafjar
- The Inland Sea or Khor Al Adaid which is 80 Km south of Doha has one shore in Saudi Arabia and one in Qatar. It is one of Qatar’s main tourist attractions and is famed for its beauty and large crescent-shaped sand dunes. It is a shallow tidal lake which connects with the sea via a narrow outlet. It is a unique lagoon system and there are several archaeological sites in the area
- Al Reem includes much of the north-west of Qatar. It is a good place to spot wildlife, including the Arabian gazelle
- Ras Abrouq, which is also known as Bir Zekreet is at the tip of a peninsula northeast of Dukhan. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are needed to reach it and it is popular with campers. This reserve is an area of bays, coves and rocky outcrops
- For the Qatar Tourism guide to the countries natural reserves: Click here