The ‘World Soccer Festival’, which used to heat up our summer every four years, will be held in winter for the first time this year, and what’s more in the Middle East. Now, Qatar is filled with thrill and excitement ahead of the first soccer festival to be held in the Middle East. Street decorations and commemorative monuments installed throughout the city add to festive ambience, and the excitement can be read from the faces of many people taking photos. From the nearby areas of the stadium where the soccer games are held, to various cultural experiences where you can feel the atmosphere of the Middle East! Let's take an online tour of Qatar, in the midst of a festive and celebratory mood.
16 hours and 35 minutes. Qatar, about 7,097㎞ from Seoul, may be an unfamiliar country for some. However, it is a country that has a deep connection with Korea.
Korea and Qatar have actively exchanged since both countries officially established diplomatic relations in the 1970s. Domestic companies also began to make inroads into Qatar 1974, since the establishment of bilateral ties. It was around that time that the relationship between Hyundai E&C and Qatar blossomed. Starting with the construction of the ‘New Doha Hotel(Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel, hereinafter 'New Doha Hotel') in 1979, Hyundai E&C participated in more than 20 Qatar construction projects, including building highways, museums, office buildings, and medical centers, contributing to the development of Qatar's urban infrastructure.
If you visit Qatar for the 2022 World Soccer Festival in Qatar, you can discover the masterpieces of Hyundai E&C, which have naturally embedded into the lives of Qatari citizens. A 9-year resident in Qatar, preparing to welcome guests from all around the world, introduces the country’s major travel destinations, as well as various Hyundai E&C construction projects that can be seen at different corners of the street!
Ahlan wa Sahlan!
Welcome to World Soccer Festival in Qatar!
This is the stadium where the game is held that attracts the attention of tourists visiting Qatar for the soccer festival. Eight stadiums are spread across north, south and west from the center of Doha, Qatar, each deeply rooted in Qatar's history and culture.
Al-Janoub Stadium, located in Al Wakrah, south of Doha, takes the form a traditional Qatar sailboat, ‘dhow’, and Al-bayt stadium, north of Doha, is inspired by the traditional tents of Qatar's nomads. In addition, the Al-thumama stadium, located in Al Thumama in central Doha, was modeled after the traditional Arab man's hat ‘gahfiya,’ which uses several holes to shape various gahfiya patterns.
The Education City Stadium, where the Korean national soccer team will play, boasts such a beautiful appearance that it is nicknamed the ‘Diamond of the Desert.’ As the name suggests, campuses of various universities surround the stadium.
However, I think the most notable stadium is ‘Lusail Iconic Stadium’. In the form of an Arabic traditional vessel bowl, the stadium will host the festival's finale. The gold-colored exterior of the stadium is extremely impressive. The Lusail Iconic Stadium, the last stop of the stadium tour, is located in the satellite city of Lusail, north of Doha. The Qatar government has newly built the city north of Doha and carried out a large-scale infrastructure construction for the Qatar Soccer Festival, where you can discover several large-scale projects by Hyundai E&C in the Lusail area, one of which is the 'Lusail Expressway'.
[ Leading Transportation Network Connecting Qatar's capital, Doha, and the Northern Satellite City of Lusail: 'Lusail Expressway'. ]
The Lusail Expressway, which people of Qatar traverse every day, has 16 round-trip lanes, and Hyundai E&C has built various facilities such as roads, tunnels, water and sewage, communication lines, and substations. If you go to Wahda IC, the southern starting point of the Lusail Expressway, you can also see a large arch structure 100m high. The structure, where two arches intersect each other, catches the eye of people coming and going.
When you are in the area, there is also another building that stands out, which is the ‘Lusail Plaza Tower’, currently under construction by Hyundai E&C. The main tower of Lusail Plaza has five basement floors and 70 floors above ground, boasting the largest number of floors in Lusail. Although it is yet to be completed, the beautiful exterior alone is already poised to become Qatar's new landmark. If you are planning to visit the Lusail area, it is definitely worth visiting the magnificent Lusail Plaza Tower, which stands tall in the city center.
Walk Along the Palm Trees!
‘Doha Corniche’, Trail Exuding Charm throughout Day and Night
[ Urban Palm Trees Trail: Doha Corniche ]
If you’ve come all the way to Qatar, you should definitely see more than just stadiums. Qatar is smaller in terms size compared to Gyeonggi-do in Korea, but is full of diverse attractions and entertainment options. The place I want to recommend the most is Doha Corniche. Doha Corniche is a 7-kilometer walkway along Doha Bay. The atmosphere of day and night is remarkably different, exposing you to complete different worlds. During the day, you can enjoy the seascape while walking along the palm tree road, and at night, the beautiful nightscape embroidered by nearby hotels and high-rise buildings.
Doha, Qatar, is home to so many hotels from West Bay to Doha Corniche. If you visit Qatar, you are very likely to stay in this area. Most national soccer teams, including that of Korea, have chosen this neighborhood as their base camp, so if you’re lucky, you can run into your favorite soccer player on the street.
[ ‘New Doha Hotel’ Located Near Doha Corniche ]
The aforementioned New Doha Hotel is an indispensable hotel located in Doha Corniche. Built by Hyundai E&C in 1979, the hotel boasts a unique pyramid shape that changes face every time the floor rises. Thanks to its unique façade and structure, it is still considered a leading landmark of Qatar, even after 40 years since completion.
New Doha Hotel is more famous among locals. In 2000, unprecedented heavy rains caused great damage to many parts of the city, and it is rumored that only New Doha Hotel was not affected by flooding, adding to its outstanding reputation.
The Entire City Becomes a Living Museum!
During the world soccer festival, downtown Qatar transforms into a large ‘roofless museum’. Ahead of the festival, Qatar Museums planned a large-scale public art and exhibition project called ‘Qatar Creatures’ to promote Qatar’s traditional cultural heritage and public art to visitors from all around the world.
Currently, various public sculptures can be found on Qatar's beaches, deserts, and building forests in the city center. Representative works include ‘Shadows Traveling on the Sea of the Day’ of Olafur Eliasson standing on the beach of Al Zubarah in northwest Qatar, and public sculpture ‘Dugong’ located at Doha Corniche, created by Jeff Koons, a pop art master,
In addition, Qatar Museums has installed more than 100 artworks by world-renowned artists, including Katharina Fritsch of Germany, Ugo Rondinone of Switzerland, Shilpa Gupta of India, and Kang Seo-kyung of Korea, throughout the city. A piece of art you encounter by chance in the city adds more fun to your trip.
[ Press ‘Click’ to watch promotional video and photos of Qatar Creates by Qatar Museums. © Qatar Museums 2022 ]
It is also very nice to see artworks on the streets, but personally, to feel Qatar's culture and art properly, you have to visit the National Museum of Qatar, which is called the world-class masterpiece of the century. The National Museum of Qatar’, built by Hyundai E&C and designed by renowned-French architect Jean Nouvel, is famous for its design inspired by ‘desert roses’ (a rose-shaped desert sand mass). Even on non-holiday days, the venue is always crowded with tourists and looks like a work of art just by its façade. This place was also illustrated in 200 Riyal bills newly issued in 2020, reflecting the interest and affection of the Qatar people.
[ The National Museum of Qatar, Landmark of Qatar. ]
Currently, the National Museum of Qatar is exhibiting ‘Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You’ by world-renowned video artist Pipilotti Rist who used 12,000 lights for production. In addition, the fountain sculpture installed next to the museum is a must-see attraction. ‘ALFA’, a work by French artist Jean- Jean-Michel Othoniel, also well-known in Korea, was reinterpreted inspired by plants in the nearby desert and certain letters in Arabic. The Arabesque-patterned stream of water sent up from individual fountains reaching up to 5.2 meters, is aesthetically harmonized with the atypical form of National Museum of Qatar. At night, fountain lights are reflected in the water stream, allowing visitors to feel a completely different charm from the day.
Experience Traditional Market to Camel Riding:
Travel Tips by Local People!
The last place to look around will allow you to experience unique culture of Qatar. The traditional Qatar market ‘Souq Waqif’ is a place where you can properly experience local culture. As you walk through the Souq in golden hues, under the golden lights after sunset, you can discover traditional Arab buildings and locals in traditional Arab costumes. You can enjoy the feeling of being in the Middle East by looking around Arab craftworks with an exotic feel and tasting diverse Arab foods.
If you are you looking for something more dynamic, a ‘desert tour’ is highly recommended. Fun outdoor activities including ATVs, sandboards, and camel rides, will definitely offer the thrill and unforgettable memories to cherish for a lifetime.