My accidental 24 hour stopover in Qatar

A decade ago I headed overseas and spent a month exploring Europe by train, but the one part of the trip I didn’t count on was an unplanned 24 hour stopover in Doha, capital city of Qatar.

Doha skyline stretches across the bay

How I got there

I left out of a snow covered Moscow bound for Australia with Qatar Airways.

Waiting at the gate, Qatar Airways A321-231 rego A7-AIA

My connection at their Doha hub was tight, but with one flight a day to Melbourne, I didn’t have much choice.

Which way to Mecca?

After a few hours, we descended for our final approach to Doha.

Nighttime city lights of Doha

The city skyline coming into view.

Skyscrapers almost in my grasp below

And then onto the ground.

Row of Qatar Airways jets on the eastern apron at Doha

Transferring at Doha’s old international airport was a pain – no jetbridges, only buses.

Transfer buses ready to pick up passengers from Qatar Airways A320 rego A7-ADC

But I eventually made it into the terminal.

Duty free shop in the departure terminal at Doha

But rather stupidly I confused my gate number and flight number – so I ended up at the wrong end of the airport!

Directional signage to the 44 boarding gates at Doha International Airport

By the time I reached the correct gate, my onward flight to Melbourne has already closed – so I was sent to the transfer counter. There I was given a booking on the next day’s flight to Melbourne, a 1 day visa to enter Qatar, a hotel voucher, and directions to the shuttle bus.

An hour later, I eventually emerged from immigration with just my camera and the clothes on my back.

Arrivals hall of Doha International Airport

After a trip on the shuttle bus, I checked into my hotel, had a 2AM supper, then off to bed.

Trying to beat the desert heat

Given I was only in Qatar for 24 hours, I wanted to make the most of my time there – so I set an alarm for 9AM to see the sights before the desert heat hit.

Outside my hotel, construction work was happening everywhere.

Directing a cement mixer

Guest workers doing all of the dirty jobs.

Guest workers do all of the building jobs in Qatar

My first stop – the Souq Waqif marketplace.

Qatar flags line the main street

Then down to the Dhow Harbour.

Doha skyline stretches across the bay

I went for a walk along the waterfront.

Western and Qatari fashion by the water

Watched the boats on the water.

Timber boats moored in the harbour

And looked over to the tall skyline behind.

Eclectic collection of skyscrapers in Doha

Past the Museum of Islamic Art.

Walking up to the Museum of Islamic Art

Planes on final approach to the nearby airport.

Museum of Islamic Art and air traffic for the neighbouring airport

Then back via the Qatar Ministry of Finance and the Islamic Cultural Centre.

Qatar Ministry of Finance and the Islamic Cultural Centre

On the roads

A decade ago the Doha Metro didn’t exist yes, so buses were the only form of public transport.

Urban bus in Doha, operated by Mowasalat

Along with taxis, like this Toyota Camry.

Toyota Camry as a taxi in Doha, operated for Mowasalat by 'Karwa'

I also saw quite a few Australian-built cars on the road, like this Holden Commodore, exported to the Middle East as a Chevrolet.

Australian-built Holden Commodore, exported to the Middle East as a Chevrolet

And a slightly older Holden Statesman, also branded as a Chevrolet.

Australian-built Holden Commodore, exported to the Middle East as a Chevrolet

Along with this beat up looking Australian-built Mitsubishi Magna.

Right hand drive version of the Australian-built Mitsubishi Magna

Time to retreat

It was now getting hot and the shops were starting to close.

Closed for the hottest part of the day

So I headed back to my hotel to take a nap.

Satellite dishes covered the rooftops all around.

Looking out over the inner city streets of Doha

But the workers were still stuck out in the heat.

Forest of tower cranes, looking north-east over the site

Pouring concrete in the burning sun.

Hundreds of workers built the formwork for another concrete pour

A final tour

After the sun went down, I went out for another walk.

The sun fades over the souq

Traders at the Souq having opened again.

Main street by night

Then I followed the back streets back to my hotel.

Radio and electronics stalls

Where I found shops selling cheap clothes.

Clothes and luggage on display

Hardware and electrical equipment.

More electrical and hardware shops

Power tools.

Row of hardware shops

Building supplies.

More shops selling electrical fixtures

And light fittings.

Shopfronts in the electrical fitting district

And time to leave

This time I didn’t want to miss my connection, so I headed back to airport leaving plenty of time to spare.

Six boarding gates on the lower level of Doha International Airport

I skipped the duty free store.

Cartons of cigarettes for sale in the airport duty free shop

And found the correct gate.

Gate 9 at Doha International Airport - the escalator to the downstairs bus bay is behind

Headed through security.

Gates 15 and 16 at Doha International Airport: dedicated to flights for the USA and Australia because of their additional security requirements

Then down to the gate lounge to wait for the bus out to my plane.

Waiting to board buses out to the plane at Doha

The tarmac was busy as ever.

Action out on the north-eastern apron, viewed from the departures terminal

But I made it onto my plane.

Cabin lighting onboard a Qatar Airways 777-200LR

Ready for the 13 hour flight back to Australia. 😫

Ready to take off from Doha

Quite the adventure, given the alternative mightn’t been to spend 24 hours trying to sleep at an airport.

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4 Responses to “My accidental 24 hour stopover in Qatar”

  1. Janice Jobe Edwards says:

    Enjoyed this very much, Marcus. I follow you just to catch the Sue City posts. But I’m a fan. I was surprised how unthreatening the city was. Funny how one can get a stereotypical view of places one has not been. I lived in numerous countries growing up, and later, when I heard people talking about those places without firsthand knowledge, I just had a chuckle to myself.
    Good work, mate.

  2. […] And missed my connection back to Australia, giving me an unplanned 24 hour stopover in Doha. […]

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