Prevue September-October 2016 - 70

Qatar Modern and cultural venues dot ancient landscapes [ON LOCATION] LANE NIESET Where else can you see desert dunes touching the sea?" our driver says, pausing on top of a patch of golden sand nearly 200 feet high. "Let's hop out and take a photo, then head to the border of Saudi Arabia." Just as we prepare to open our doors, he throws the 4x4 SUV into reverse, racing down the backside of the dune. And that's when we learned the true meaning of dune bashing. Doha-based DMC Travel Designer knows just what groups are after when it comes to experiencing the more authentic side of Qatar's capital city, which sits on the Arabian Peninsula on the border of Saudi Arabia. The southern Qatari Desert is less than 30 miles from the city center near the town of Masaieed, where groups can start the three-hour trek with camel rides in the sand before a roller coaster-style dune drive to the Khor Al Udeid inland sea, pausing for everything from an Arabic BBQ to shisha and tea along the way. The country currently features 133 properties (21 of which are four-star), plus an additional 7,000 hotel rooms on the way and another 11,000 under contract. Still, spending the night in a Bedouin tent on the sand is a must hyperlocal experience. In the 618-acre Aspire Zone, or Doha Sports City, the 51 floor state-of-the-art The Torch Doha opened four years ago as a highend sports hotel, but now operates more as a five-star spot with a sports slant. Standing at nearly 1,000 feet tall, the hotel features 163 rooms outfitted in the most modern of technologies with 12-color mood lighting and interactive LED TVs, all controlled with the touch of an iPad. For 360-degree views over Doha, head up to the aptly named THREE SIXTY on the 47th floor-the only rotating restaurant in the city-which can host groups of up to 80. For lunch, a room that certainly has Qatari flair is the Aladdin-inspired Flying Carpet, with hand-woven rugs lining the ceiling and space for live cooking stations in the corners. One of the main perks of groups staying at the five-star, 400-room Oryx Rotana Doha is its prime location near the airport, as well as attractions like the Museum of Islamic Art and Souq Waqif. In addition to 11 meeting rooms, the hotel is also home to refreshed restaurants that can suit all event styles-from the Mediterranean-inspired wine and tapas bar The Cellar to the sultry Jazz Club (the first in the city) and the stylish Lebanese Al Nafourah Garden and shisha lounge. HIGH-RISE HOTEL HOPPING DINING IN PAST & PRESENT DOHA We stayed at the 349-room InterContinental Doha The City, just five minutes from the Qatar Exhibition Centre. Groups of up to 700 party in its 10,947-sf main ballroom or take events up 56 floors with cocktails in the Strata Lounge, which features a sweeping Doha skyline. For a casual, Arabic-inspired evening, bring out the Shisha pipes and light bites like traditional mezze at the lobby-level outdoor Al Jalsa Garden. Once a meeting place for Bedouins to buy and sell goods, the century-old Souq Waqif on the Corniche, which underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2006, offers a glimpse into the city's past with group tours of the spice and gold markets, as well as the Falconry Souq that sells everything from supplies for desert hunting season to the falcons themselves. Groups can nosh on cuisine from Syrian to Indian, but to taste a bit of the local culture, 70 | prevuemeetings.com http://www.prevuemeetings.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue September-October 2016

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