Last weekend I had been to one of the most noteworthy and beautiful place in Qatar. The Pearl Qatar is a man-made island, to say it in one sentence. With that I had imagined it to be a sandy beach in the middle of the sea. But it is not. Not in the least. Pearl Qatar is a gorgeous residential and shopping area, a place that makes you forget that you are in Middle-East. The sea here has been tamed and made to look like a backwater canal, and a part,(read four million square metre), has been turned into this gorgeous island complex with shops, residential apartments and marinas. From my place in Doha, the road to Pearl was dusty, with construction work going on all around. Also, we had to dodge the traffic, an ever-increasing problem in Qatar now.
However, all my complaints vanished as I entered through the gate of Pearl Qatar. Winter is being clingy this year, and Pearl was extremely gusty and cold that day. On entering there was a long concrete promenade with designer labels on one hand and the sea on the other. I looked ahead and there were tall residential towers overlooking the sea. The marina on my left was harbouring several super luxury yachts and boats.
There were tall date trees, flower shrubs and bushes all around. It was amazing! It felt like I have left this desert land after all.
History: Initially I was under the impression that the name ‘Pearl’ has been given based on the bird eye view of the island. But, as I decided to tell you in detail about the place, I ended up tracing the history of Qatar. Once, Qatar used to be one of the major pearl traders of Asia, and this island is built on one of the major pearl diving site of Qatar. However, shortly after, the Japanese figured out how to make cheaper cultured pearls and overtook Qatar’s position in world trade.
Unfortunate for whosoever it might be then, for Qatar it was just the start of a new era. As we all know, the country soon found something more significant in world economy, way more precious than pearls or diamonds!
The Pearl: Incidentally Pearl is the first and one of the very few land in Qatar that is available for ‘freehold’ ownership for foreign nationals. It amazes me how fast this island complex is growing. Only three years back there were only three thousand residents, and now it is twelve thousand as of January, 2015, and expected to grow even more by the time of its completion in 2018.
Now, what is so special about these apartments? Well, it is in the design to start with – where the ocean is standing in between like a giant pool encircled by all these residential complexes towering over, Porto Arabia being one of the most popular cluster.
Imagine taking a ride around the Arabian Sea in your own yacht, before your evening tea, or when you go for grocery shopping.
Porto Arabia houses a high-end shopping destination, true. But believe you me when I say ‘high-end’ it means everything is absurdly expensive. But treat for the eye nevertheless. Almost all the world-famous luxury brands are here, with Armani, Hugo, and Cavalli having more than one showroom. I personally liked the Nespresso outlet where you can spend some time checking out their sleek espresso machines and those cute little coffee capsule packs.
Rolls Royce has a car showroom and Qatar Airways, Vodafone has premium service outlets beside the promenade of Porto Arabia residents – what more do they want! Oh wait, I didn’t really see any grocery shop out here though, and wondered all the way back home what these people eat. Do they eat restaurant foods every day! Because once out of the island, there will be an end of civilisation for a long, long time.
Eateries: There are several diners here, specialising in each cuisine of their own and almost all are good, I guess. French, Italian, South African, Lebanese, American, Asian – fine diners and fast food joints were all around me.
Armani Café with all the Armani logo and everything is something I couldn’t get my head around. Do they sell Armani or coffee! Also, with the look and feel of the shop from outside, I got confused whether they will accept paper note currencies, and decided not to venture. However, the open air Cafeteria where I sat with Arijit, next to one of the marina was damn romantic. It’s called the ‘Second Cup. Coffee was good, but the cheese cake is a must have. The only bad thing is that they didn’t have Shisha joints anywhere in Pearl.
Location: The Pearl-Qatar Island is around 15 kilometres outside Doha, and 22 kilometres from Doha International Airport. But here I would like to add that the journey time might become a lot more than expected given the bad traffic condition.
Well, so there I have tried and shared my experience on the luxurious artificial island in Qatar. If you decide to visit Pearl and stay here for a day or two, without being a resident, I think that can be arranged too. To get a glimpse of the interior of the residential apartments or to book a holiday, the link below might be useful for you.
And you can contact the Ronautica Harbour Master’s Office to take a boat/yatch on rent.