Seeing The Sights While On Route To Al Janoub Stadium
Qatar is the smallest country in FIFA football history to host the World Cup. For the first time, fans and spectators can visit each stadium to host the world's most popular sporting event during a single tournament should they choose - after all, all of the stadiums for the 2022 competition are within a 70 km radius of one another! As such, visitors to Qatar for the World Cup will have the greatest opportunity to see more of the country the tournament is held in than has ever been possible before - and there is plenty on offer.
Al Janoub Stadium, one of eight to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup Qatar, is set in the coastal town of Al Wakrah, south of Doha. This arena, the most southerly of the tournament's stadiums, is blessed by its proximity to the coastline and the start of Qatar's sand dunes. And though each stadium has a wealth of sights to see on its doorstep, Al Janoub, as one of the oldest continuously inhabited fishing and pearling ports in Qatar and its nearness to the wild dunes of the Arabian Desert, is the only one to provide access to such diverse diversions.
So, if you are keen to make the most out of visiting Qatar, aside from watching some of the world's best teams battle for supremacy, this article can help. We've put together a guide to some of the best spots to visit close to Qatar's seafaring-inspired stadium, Al Janoub.
But first, let us introduce you to the stadium in question:
Al Janoub Stadium
Image: Photo Play/Shutterstock.com
Located in the bustling town of Al Wakrah, 24 km south of Doha, Al Janoub Stadium is accessible by car, taxi, bus (on the Stadium Express Bus) and Metro (via the Doha Metro Red Line to Al Wakrah Station).
Inspired by the traditions of Qatari life on the coast - particularly Al Wakrah's pearl diving and fishing past - Al Janoub Stadium was designed to resemble the sails of traditional Dhow boats from the outside and the hull of a ship on the inside. The sleek curved lines of the arena's facade glint and shimmer in the sun's heat. However, they belie the cool interior. An innovative, specially designed cooling system helps to keep guests cool regardless of the outside temperature.
Inaugurated in May 2019, Al Janoub's 40,000+ stands were full to the brim as the crowd watched the final of the 2018/19 Emir Cup - the nation's premier annual football competition. Since then, the stadium has hosted the semi-final of the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup (2019), the 2020 AFC Champions League final and six games of the FIFA Arab Cup 2021. During the matches held at the arena, temperatures in the stadium remained 10 ̊C lower than external temperatures, proving the venue's capability to cool thousands of fans during the 2022 tournament.
For Al Janoub Stadium, the World Cup will kick off on November 22nd with a battle between the world's current 4th best team, France and Asia's current number 4, Australia. Across the competition, Al Janoub will host a further five Group Stage matches and one Round of 16 game. Fans can expect to see some of Europe, Africa and South America's top teams grace the pitch - Denmark and Tunisia will take on Australia, Switzerland and Serbia will go head-to-head with Cameroon, and Uruguay will face off against Ghana.
Nearby Sights and Attractions
Outside of the stadium, visitors can walk the surrounding precinct, with gardens, lawns, picnic areas, children's parks, tracks for horse riding, running and cycling, and numerous restaurants. Or visit the nearby Al Wakrah Souq, the beach, the port, or head further afield to the desert. There is a variety of things to see and do:
Image: Fitria Ramli/Shutterstock.com
If you want to explore Qatar's cultural vibe, head to Souq Wakrah, built alongside Wakrah's old port and previously the site of an ancient fishing village.
Souq Wakrah is a traditional-style market, commonplace in the Middle Eastern. While the souq is a new development that opened in 2014, its low-walled, flat-roofed buildings are constructed around a labyrinth of courtyards, and alleyways are full of heritage features. Traditional Qatari architecture is in full swing along the wide streets to the maze of tiny passageways, thoroughfares and ginnels. Shops and houses, made from sandy-coloured clay and limestone to maintain cooler temperatures inside, are set around courtyards with little gardens, entered through large wooden doors and arched entrances. Date palms line the streets, and all walkways seem to draw you in and down towards a seafront promenade.
The souq is full of many small shops selling local delicacies such as dates and Arabic coffee, spices, honey, woven textiles, handicrafts and souvenirs. There are even tailors, boat makers and old hardware-style shops. Along the promenade, you can find a host of cafes and restaurants selling local fare to Asian dishes and European food. However, there is much more to the souq than shops, eateries and picturesque streets.
The souq is also home to one of the oldest mosques in Qatar - the Abu Manaratain Mosque. The original mosque was built in 1940 and was a simple structure with thick walls made from overlapping pieces of raw coral, rock and limestone and a roof coated with compressed mud. The Qatari Government renovated the mosque in 2004, retaining the original design and features, including a small pool for ablutions, which was originally filled with water from a well in the adjacent courtyard.
The promenade, which stretches north towards a public beach and south to the restored Wakrah Fishing Harbour, also features a variety of sights and things to do. At the southern end of the promenade, at the harbour, you can watch fishing boats casting off or docking with their catch. Look further afield to see The Pearl Monument, an iconic monument built in the 1980s to represent Qatar's pearl-diving past. Heading north alongside the seafront restaurants and cafes that spill out with chairs and shades for alfresco dining, you can rest on the family beach, a narrow but clean and well-maintained strip of sand with shallow water safe for paddling and deeper waters further out for swimming. Traditional sailing boats, Dhows, have been pulled up onto the shore and painted in brilliant white and vibrant blues - great for quirky Instagram shots! A small square of the promenade adjacent to the souq juts out through the beach into the sea - surrounded by rocks; this is an excellent place for spotting crabs, fish and the occasional heron. Towards the end of the low-rise buildings, the sand opens into a lovely, well-tended, large park for children. Walk further north and find another stretch of wilder sand and BBQ areas.
During the summer, and available for a fee, a host of temporary kids activities pop up all along the promenade - inflatables, trampolines, bikes, go-karts, camel and horse rides, and more. The souq also hosts some vibrant festivals and events throughout the year.
Souq Wakrah is genuinely a stop for everyone, and you can easily spend an entire day there - so be careful not to miss a match if you find yourself wandering around this pleasant spot!
You can reach Al Wakrah Souq from the stadium by car or taxi. The closest metro station is the Al Wakra Metro Station on the Red Line. Once at the station, you can hop on a free Metrolink Shuttle Bus to the souq, which takes 10 minutes.
Note: As the beach is attached to a public promenade and market, and Qatar is a conservative country, modest beachwear must be worn on the souq’s beach.
Al Wakrah Family Beach
Image: Qatar Living
If you'd rather spend the day immersed in beach-only activities on a larger stretch of sand and have the family in tow, Al Wakrah Family Beach, located just south of the city and within a secure compound, could be just the ticket. The beach is long, wide and sandy, with plenty of room for the entire clan to run amok.
Al Wakrah Family Beach is perfect for families for so many reasons. The water is very shallow at low tide, creating lots of pools and sandbars for many metres out from the shore - perfect for exploring, setting up your own 'island' camp, building sandcastles, and paddling with a host of small fish and crabs. Further out, the water deepens - excellent for swimming and snorkelling. On-shore, there are wooden cabanas with seating, BBQ grills, and plenty of trash bins - great for picnics and BBQs, which are super popular with local families and give the beach an atmosphere that feels safe, friendly and fun. And there are three large, shaded children's play areas pitched on the beach, with equipment to cover a range of ages - ensuring all the young ones are entertained.
The beach has toilets and shower blocks near the beach car park, but there are no shops, cafes or restaurants, so you need to bring your own food and drink. The beach compound, reached via a track across the desert plain, is manned, but entrance is free.
Al Wakrah Family Beach, either side of a stadium visit, alongside a host of local families, is a cheap and easy win for all the brood!
The family beach can be reached in 15 minutes by car or taxi from the stadium. The nearest Metro station is the Al Wakra Station, but to get to the beach would require an additional taxi ride.
Sealine Beach Resort
Public beaches provide a fun and active day out for al. However, somedays, we'd all rather relax on a manicured beach surrounded by life's little luxuries - think swimming pools, recliners, cabanas with soft mattresses and cushions, laundered towels, bottles of cold fresh water, pool bars, cafes and restaurants. Luckily, just 30 minutes by car or taxi from Al Janoub Stadium, you can find one of Qatar's premier beach resorts.
Located south of Al Wakrah, Sealine Beach Resort, winner of various Luxury hotel awards, is perched between the glistening waters of the Arabian Gulf and Qatar's rising golden sand dunes. The resort offers overnight accommodation in 58 luxury villas and apartments that open out onto terraces and balconies that overlook the clear blue sea. But, if you're looking to relax in beautiful surroundings by the beach for just a day, they also offer pool and beach day passes.
The beach is a long, narrow, neat strip that backs onto a bright green lawn dotted with tall date palms, shrubs and planted beds. Winding pathways lead to a regular-shaped swimming pool to the left of the beach and to the right, three temperature-controlled, interconnected circular pools, which include a covered baby pool and a pool with a slide. Surrounding each pool and across the site are comfy cabanas, shaded loungers, umbrellas, tables, chairs, benches and covered picnic tables. A pizzeria, surf and turf cafe and a shisha and drinks lounge provide poolside refreshments, and indoors, for ultimate relaxation, a spa offers first-class skin and body treatments.
For more active visitors, you can participate in numerous water sports, including paddle boarding, kayaking, jet skiing, pedal boating, banana rides or diving into an inflatable water park. Or try various ball sports such as beach volleyball, tennis, football and basketball - the resort floodlit has courts and pitches for games at any time of the day or night. Or try riding camels and horses on the beach. Kids have plenty of options at the resort too - a play park, play area and a kids club, which often incorporates a giant inflatable bouncy castle/assault course.
Weekday passes, which include the resort facilities, are around QAR 100 per person, though kids under six enter for free. At weekends a day pass jumps up to QR 250 per person but includes a buffet lunch fresh from the site's fish and grill restaurant, Al Odaid.
Open 7 am to 7 pm daily, Sealine Beach Resort is the perfect location to spend a relaxing few hours, pre or post-match! To contact the resort for more information, call +974 4021 4000 or email [email protected], or check out their website, https://www.sealinebeachqatar.com.
Image: Benny Marty/Shutterstock.com
Watching a live football game, especially in a World Cup tournament, is a thrilling experience and hard to emulate. However, if you want to continue the thrills and spills in Qatar, heading south from Al Janoub Stadium to the country's sandy dunes is a great place to start. The desert has some fantastic opportunities to experience a completely unique and beautiful environment and to try your hand at some exceptional adventure activities.
Close to the Sealine Beach Resort, the paved roads of Qatar end and the soft sands of the dunes begin. From there, you can embark upon a desert safari. Safely ensconced in a 4x4, you can experience the buzz of powering up the steep slopes of the ever-changing dunes, some over 50 metres high, balancing precariously at the top of each before plummeting and racing down the other side. For the more adventurous, there are opportunities to stop and try sand boarding, organise dune bashing in pacey dune buggies and quad bikes, or try your hand at camel and horse riding. Along the intense journey, you get to see the vastness and beauty of the desert, its unique flora and fauna, and beautiful beaches and crystal clear seas along the coast. Depending on the time of day you embark on your adventure, you can watch the sunrise or set, even gaze in astonishment at the unspoiled starlit skies. As a location, it's an Instagrammers heaven!
Most desert safaris also take in Qatar's natural wonder, Khor Al Adaid - an inland desert lagoon, one of only three in the world. Astoundingly picturesque, the Inland Sea is recognised by UNESCO as a nature reserve with a unique ecosystem. It is an extraordinary and scenic landscape and home to various birds, land animals, and marine life - some of which have rare or threatened status. While there, you have the chance to relax on the beach, swim, fish and explore the dune.
Some safaris also offer the opportunity to camp overnight. Many campsites offer luxury tents with modern conveniences such as running water, electricity, wifi, air conditioning and comfy double beds to sleep on. Some offer traditional camping, with Bedouin-style tents around a fire pit and a majlis to relax in. Whichever option you choose, the experience is designed to bring you closer to the nation's traditional nomadic Bedouin roots.
You can organise an excursion with or without additional activities and camping with any of Qatar's adventure tour operators (i.e. 365 Adventures, Arabian Adventures Qatar, Desert Safari Doha and Falcon Tours, to name a few).
A desert safari is one of the best ways to experience the country beyond the bright lights of Doha and would undoubtedly add a new dimension to a trip to watch the 2022 World Cup.
The start of the desert lies approximately 40 km from Al Janoub Stadium.
Main image: Tomacrosse/Shutterstock.com
If you liked this article, check out one of the others in this series:
- Stunning Sights a Stone's Throw from 974 Stadium
- A-List Attractions Accessible From Khalifa International Stadium
- World Class Attractions Close To Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
- Delightful Diversions Direct From Al Bayt Stadium
- Awesome Attractions Close To Lusail Stadium
- Exceptional Attractions Close To Education City Stadium
If you are feeling peckish on your adventures around Al Bayt Stadium, check out our Awesome Edibles Around Al Janoub Stadium article.