Mesaieed, Qatar

Photo: Regency Sealine Camp
Photo: Regency Sealine Camp

Have you been spending a lot of time in Qatar lately? When Doha’s new international airport opened two years ago, it quickly became a major hub and made connections to places like Addis Ababa, Colombo, and even Perth much easier. But, aside from a quick trip into the capital during a long layover, you’ve yet to explore the Middle Eastern country. It’s time to extend your layover.

It doesn’t have to be a long stop. Qatar, which sits along the Persian Gulf, is only the size of Connecticut. But Doha has quickly become one of the wealthiest cities in the world. While outside of the city, the arid desert meets sand dunes and endless beaches along the coast. Qatar may be small, but it has a lot going for it.

You’re heading to one of those beaches. About an hour south of Doha, you reach Mesaieed. The small city was originally established as a tanker terminal for the petroleum industry due to its deep waters. Its industrial buildings aren’t very inviting. Keep driving, though. The concrete buildings quickly give way to singing sand dunes (they really sound like they’re singing), golden-sand beaches, and calm water. By the time you reach the Regency Sealine Camp, you’ve completely forgotten about the eyesore you just passed.

The Regency Sealine Camp seamlessly blends traditional Arabic design with modern comforts right on the sand. The lounge is filled with brightly colored carpets and hand-blown lights. Huge tents have king-size beds and lots of pillows. Plus beach cabanas are set up with sun loungers, coolers full of ice, and uninterrupted water views. This is the way to go glamping.

It doesn’t take long for you—someone who doesn’t usually camp—to settle into this spot. You can go dune bashing in a four-wheel-drive vehicle or ride a camel through the desert. You can sip mint tea in the lounge and eat dinner under the stars. You can smoke shisha by a fire pit and listen to jazz playing in the background. And you can stare at the Persian Gulf for hours from your cabana. Qatar is no longer just a layover.

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