Highlights in Sports

Highlights in Sports

Here you can find a selection of stadiums, tournaments and academies

Falconry

Falconry is a rare sport, which has been practiced in Qatar and other gulf states for centuries. For the people of the region, it is more than just a sport. It is part of their cultural and national identity.A visit to the Falcon Souq, which borders the Souq Waqif, provides insight into the rich tradition and societal value placed on falconry in Qatar.

A glance from the outside into the especially built Falcon Hospital, dedicated only to these unique birds, is also worthwhile.

The proud hunting birds often cost five to six digit figures and are treated by their owners like their own children. The best time to watch this scenery, is late afternoon, when potential buyers come to look at the precious birds.

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Al Shahaniya Camel Race Track

The traditional and extremely popular camel races take place on Qatar’s racetrack in the small village of Al Shahniya, around an hour’s drive from downtown Doha. A visit to the Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack is a unique opportunity to admire well trained and some of the world’s most expensive camels.

The use of camels has a long tradition in Qatar and dates back to the time of the Bedouins, who used camels as a means of transport and supplies of meat, fur and milk. Then as now, the animals express the wealth of their owners, however, nowadays the camels are increasingly sought after for racing purposes.

During the races, the animals can reach top speeds of over 60 kilometers per hour. Today, human camel jockeys are no longer used in Qatar. Instead, robotic jockeys are used, which are placed on the back of the animals, controlled via a remote-controlled lash.

Although there are shady seats in the stands, visitors and locals alike can follow the race by driving their cars along the paved road that runs parallel to the 10-kilometer race track. Here, the camel owners, the trainers of the animals or the visitors can follow the race at eye level with the camels and cover the same distance as the animals.

From November to February there are competitions on every Friday, in addition to national and international tournaments. Even if there are no races, visitors can stop by the track every day at 9:30 am or around 5:30 pm when the camels are brought into the arena for practice. There is a virtual camel town around the racetrack, and visitors are welcome to visit the nearby camel stables.

Further information on the Al Shahaniya Camel Race Track can be found here.

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Doha Golf Club – Doha Masters 

The Doha Golf Club is an 18-hole golf course that offers a very special golfing experience. Here you will find a magnificent landscape with eight artificial lakes, a traditional Arabic-style clubhouse and a 9-hole Academy Course nestled in the Qatar desert.

Since 1998, Doha Golf Club hosts the prestigious Qatar Masters Golf Tournament. The tournament is sponsored by Commercial Bank and takes place at the start of each year as part of “The European Tour”. Many of the world’s best golfers compete on this unique and challenging desert course of the Doha Golf Club, which presents itself as one of the longest Par 72 courses on the tour.

Further information on the Doha Golf Club can be found here.

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Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex – ATP Open

The Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex is a very good and internationally recognized sports complex – in the middle of Doha.

The Qatar Open, known as Qatar ExxonMobil Open, is a professional tennis tournament played on outdoor hard courts. It is currently part of the ATP World Tour 250 Series and takes place annually in January at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha. The Qatar Open have been the venue for the opening of the ATP World Tour season since 2009.

In recent years, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have opened the season regularly in Qatar. Once they played a tennis court on a boat off the bay of Doha. Another time on a “magic carpet” tennis court in Souq Waqif. In 2011, both players came at the same time and opened the new season on a tennis court located in the water of West Bay of Doha. In 2012, they played in the Katara Amphitheater at sunset, amidst more than 4,000 burning Roman candles.

Further information on the Tennis and Squash Complex can be found here.

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Al Shaqab

Horses have a long tradition in Qatar. The emirate is known for its purebred Arabian horses. Many award-winning lines go back to the world-famous state stud Al Shaqab. Al Shaqab is a homage to the Arabian horse and the tradition of equestrian sports.

All facilities are designed to the highest standards and are appealing to visitors, athletes and horses alike. Covering an area of ten hectares, the luxurious equestrian center with its multiple training grounds, air-conditioned horse riding arenas and stables can accommodate up to 600 horses and host their breeding and training requirements at the same time.

The on-site horse riding arena is extremely impressive. Each year, major equestrian events such as the CHI or the Longinus Global Champions Tour take place here. Al Shaqab also includes endurance riding.

A riding school at Al Shaqab offers children and adults a variety of activities and opportunities. A visit is not only worthwhile for horse enthusiasts.

Further information on Al Shaqab can be found here.

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Aspire

The Aspire Academy is one of the world’s largest sports complexes. The academy focuses on promoting young athletes, while international top athletes and teams regularly use the excellent facilities as well – for example the  German football club FC Bayern Munich.

Founded in 2004, the complex includes seven football pitches, tennis and squash courts, running tracks, an Olympic swimming center, various sports halls, laboratories, as well as gyms and housing for up to 1,000 athletes.

A fundamental part of the complex is the Aspire Dome, a 250,000 square meters roofed hall. Here, 13 different sports events can take place simultaneously.

As a tribute to the 2006 Asian Games, The Torch was built on the Aspire site – at 318m, the tallest building in Qatar, which includes a hotel and a spinning restaurant with breathtaking views.

Aiming to be the world’s leading academy for the advancement and development of young athletes by 2020, the Aspire Academy stands for excellence, professionalism and teamwork – values that can be consistently found throughout the Aspire Academy.

Further information on Aspire can be found here.

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Football

The FIFA World Cup 2022 will take place in Qatar. With this nomination Qatar became famous around the globe. Amazed and incredulous, many people have wondered how a small desert country like Qatar, which is not well-known in the West as a football nation, can host a world-class event like the World Cup. 

However, the FIFA Admissions Committee deliberately opted for Qatar in 2010. In its application, which was developed by the German planning office Albert Speer & Partner, it has applied with/for the following reasons: Never before has a World Cup taken place in an Arab country. Never before has a football World Cup been held in a Muslim country, never in a desert country. Qatar promised to make the games, planned for the hot desert summer, climate neutral. The latest technology – among others from Germany – will be used. Qatar wanted to set an example that the latest technology and the use of renewable energy in desert countries have a great future. 

At first there was skepticism and also criticism. Much of it, however, was based on ignorance and prejudice. Not the sport and the uniqueness of the application dominated the headlines, but the criticism of the working conditions for foreign workers. Meanwhile, established and legitimate international labor organizations have recognized the progress of Qatari government and local companies in labor legislation. Qatar had already been among the more advanced countries, considering those with a high proportion of migrant workers. Meanwhile, and also as a result of international criticism, Qatar has become one of the leading nations – among the developing and emerging countries.

The FIFA has now shifted the World Cup to the winter months. However, this does not go back to a wish of the Qatari government. It had guaranteed a proper, player- and audience-friendly event, even in the summer. 

The Supreme Committee for Legacy and Delivery has released designs for seven of the eight planned stadiums. The Khalifa International Stadium in the Aspire Zone is already completed. There are already football games hosted there which can be visited – the other stadiums are still under construction.

A steady feature that runs through the architecture of all arenas is the reference to the culture of Qatar, which is interpreted and implemented differently in each of the stadiums. It is a reference to the tradition of the country and its vision for the future. The 2022 World Cup will be a spectacular and innovative football event in many ways. For the first time, visitors will be able to visit more than one game per day, as the stadiums are so close to each other. They will be reachable by public transport. Fan zones for public viewing have already been tested. Some of the stadiums are being built modularly and will later be made available to other, poorer countries. 

Football has a tradition and a very high social status in Qatar. This is reflected in the existence of an internationally competitive, domestic league and the great interest in international football teams and tournaments. The domestic QNB Stars League consists of 12 teams. The first two teams will qualify for the AFC Champions League, the penultimate team will go into two relegation games (against the second of the second division) and the last team will relegate directly. 

Additionally, there are two more cups: One being the Qatar Cup, which is played amongst the first four teams of the league, the other being, the QSL Cup, in which all first division teams play. 

Attending a league or cup match is a great experience for anyone who wants to get to know a different and passionate football culture.

Women also play football in Qatar. The Qatari women’s football team was temporarily trained by the German coach Monika Staab. There have been several matches against German women’s teams.

Further information on the World Cup can be found here, and information on the Qatar Stars Leauge can be found here.

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Lusail International Circuit 

The Lusail International Circuit, a world-class motorsport circuit, is the only racetrack in the region to fulfil the highest criteria of FIA (Circuit License Grade 1) and FIM (Circuit License).

The track is 5.38 kilometer long, with 16 turns, 6 left and 10 right, and a width of 12 meters. Furthermore, floodlights can be used to create daylight conditions at night. 

The MotoGP season has been opened at the Lusail International Circuit since 2007 and is considered one of the most spectacular races of the year – partly due to the floodlit nighttime rides.

Further information on the Lusail International Circuit can be found here.

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