Fahad al-Hajiri, a Saudi, considers Qatar his favourite tourist destination. His drive to Qatar takes only four hours through the Abu Samra border crossing shared by the two countries.
"I frequently visit Doha during the holidays because the city hosts several events and festivals during the year," Al-Hajiri told Al-Shorfa.
He also mentioned he enjoys the international and continental sports championships, music festivals and international car shows that Doha offers.
Citizens throughout the Gulf are discovering Qatar as a vacation option. The country is seeking to become a tourist destination in the Middle East and is taking advantage of the promotional opportunities available as host of the World Cup in 2022.
Ahmed Al-Nuaimi, head of the Qatar Tourism Authority, said the authority developed an ambitious plan to make Qatar a tourist destination.
"We have printed maps showing the tourist sites of the country, and they have been distributed along our borders. We participated in several international exhibitions with the intent of presenting Qatar as a tourist destination worth visiting," he told Al-Shorfa.
Al-Nuaimi added, "Despite our small size, Qatar is home to several important landmarks on the national, regional and international levels. The most prominent of these is the Museum of Islamic Art which is an architectural masterpiece and is home to thousands of rare, artistic pieces. These pieces have cost millions of dollars to collect and belong to different cultures. We also have the Museum of Modern Arab Art which recently opened in Doha and holds some of the most remarkable works of Arab art from the previous two centuries.
Ibrahim Saadoon Al-Hajiri, an official at the Qatar Tourism Authority, believes the warm temperatures in Qatar are no longer an impediment for tourists to visit even during the summer.
"We think the nature of the summer activities convinced lots of Qatari families to spend their [summer] holidays inside the country," he added.
Al-Hajiri said the authority has tried to organise diverse activities to attract the largest number of tourists and to cater to all tastes. "There are annual music festivals, film festivals, book fairs, auto shows, jewellery and fashion shows, horse races, tennis competitions and much more."
Al-Hajiri also believes conferences are a key component that could present Qatar as a preferred tourist destination. Every year, Qatar organises dozens of regional and international conferences of all types.
According to 2010 statistics from the Qatar Tourism Authority, the number of tourists visiting Qatar in 2007 reached 700,000 people. In 2008, the figure rose to 800,000. The authority hopes to increase the number of visitors to 1,250,000 by the end of 2011.
Hussa Al-Rumaihi, a Kuwaiti, believes Qatar rivals Dubai as a tourist destination.
"I don't hear about Dubai as much as I hear about Qatar," she said. "In the past, I couldn't wait to go to the UAE, but now things are different. Qatar has a lot of nice things, and the people are kind."
As for the places she insists on visiting when she comes to Qatar, she says "Of course, it has to be Souq Waqif. It is very beautiful, and I like to visit and spend long hours in the traditional cafes."
Hussa said she enjoys visiting the Sealine Beach Resort which overlooks the Arabian Gulf as well as walking along the Doha Corniche. She also attends musical events in Doha.