Can’t decide which country is better to spend your vacation in?
To give you an idea, Qatar is more about relaxing experiences and a slower-paced lifestyle. Think museums, art galleries, waterfront boardwalks, outdoor cafes, and parks.
UAE, on the other hand, has an abundance of activities, attractions, and experiences. If you want nightlife, go to UAE. If you want beaches, history, and picturesque landscapes, UAE has them all too. If you want outdoor adventure, romantic places, and unique experiences, UAE is full of them.
You might think UAE is the better choice. But believe it or not, Qatar still has a few aces up its sleeve that just might convince you otherwise.
For the full details, keep reading. Or, you can read a brief summary in the section “Which is Better – UAE or Qatar” down below.
The perfect way to describe Qatar?
You don’t visit Qatar for its nightlife or for experiences that give you a surge of adrenaline.
Qatar is all about slowing down. Imagine taking beautiful walks by the bay. Sipping coffee accompanied by ocean views. Or admiring countless art collections in a museum on a standalone island.
There are plenty of opportunities for honeymooners around Qatar.
And if you’re craving a place that’s truly peaceful, quiet, and full of nature, Qatar has that too.
Some might find Qatar boring. But for anyone who prefers a vacation in solitude and an easygoing pace, you’ll immediately fall in love with it.
What Makes Qatar Unique?
Full of Charming Villages and Peaceful Towns
Qatar is full of charming places to spend a quiet afternoon in. The Souq Waqif is one of those places, offering shopping, dining, and wandering all in one spot. But beyond the Souq Waqif lies Qatar’s hidden gems, villages, and towns full of scenic beauty.
For families, photo opportunities, and a private place to unwind, visit Al Khor.
The town is famous for Al Thakira Beach, which makes for a great resting spot for families. If you want privacy, head to Farkeh Beach or to Al Khor Island, perfect for honeymooners or solo travelers.
Slightly further from Qatar is Mesaieed, a desert haven known for its sand dune adventures. Although Mesaieed is popular for its desert adventures, its main attraction caters to couples the most.
In Mesaieed, you can book a candlelit dinner under the starry sky and along the desert landscape. For any special occasions and celebrations, this is one of the best places to celebrate.
Looking for shopping opportunities? Head to the town of Al Rayyan. You’ll also find mosques and fortifications that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries.
Around Al Rayyan, there are several stalls selling local products and souvenirs to take back home. But if you’d rather spend more time shopping for designer goods, visit the Mall of Qatar or Wathnan Mall.
Next, there’s also Al Wakrah, which is a charming town ideal for anyone in need of a relaxing afternoon stroll.
Being able to watch the sunset from Al Wakrah is also a novel experience worth doing. The charming town makes for a fantastic area to unwind away from the noise of city life.
Finally, Qatar is home to several historical landmarks and even a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Several of these include:
- Al Jumail
- Al Ruwais
- Al Shamal
- Umm Salal Mohammed
- Al Zubarah (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Several Tours for Families and Couples
For any first-time visitor, getting to know what Qatar offers is best done through its many tours. It’s fine to explore at your own pace, but you may also miss out on several that would make your trip worth it.
Now, you don’t have to do every single tour.
With so much to explore, there are a few tours that stand out and give you your best bang for your buck.
Desert Safari Tour
Sitting at the top of the list of best tours in Qatar is the 5-hour Desert Safari Tour.
This is perfect if you want an experience that involves an off-road adventure. Or, venturing into a desert terrain full of activities for the entire group.
The tour starts off with a dune-bashing experience while riding a 4×4. Next, you’ll hop on a camel and explore the desert.
From there, another dune-bashing experience awaits. The biggest difference? Highly skilled drivers drift and dune bash through the desert while riding a land cruiser.
Imagine riding a rollercoaster in the sand for at least 20 minutes. Quite the thrill, right?
After, you can opt to go sandboarding and finally, the tour ends in Khor Al Adaid inland sea. Khor Al Adaid makes for a great spot to relax after a day of adventure.
Qatar Islamic Heritage Exploration Tour
For history and culture buffs, don’t miss the Qatar Islamic Heritage Exploration Tour.
The tour includes visiting some of Doha’s (Qatar’s capital) most esteemed mosques and museums. The National Mosque and Fanar Mosque are the country’s crown jewels.
You’ll also get to pass through the Souq Waqif during this tour for several shopping opportunities.
Lastly, the Islamic Heritage Exploration Tour includes a visit to one of the most beautiful landmarks. The Museum of Islamic Art is home to one of the most creative and beautiful art collections. But more than that, it sits atop a standalone island, exuding elegance and beauty from every angle.
There’s also a top-notch restaurant and outdoor café located at the Museum of Islamic Art. Both are worth the visit.
Delights of Doha and City Tour
Architecture, waterfront communities, culture, and lavish restaurants. The Delights of Doha and City Tour is a city tour to experience the best of Qatar, specifically around its capital, Doha.
The highlight of this Doha tour?
Being able to visit the Pearl, which is an exclusive estate filled with lavish residences, restaurants, and cafes.
Around the Pearl sits three neighborhoods each with its own personality. What’s more, families, serenity seekers, nature lovers, and honeymooners will definitely enjoy The Pearl.
After visiting the Pearl, you’ll get to see incredible architecture in the Katara Cultural Village. Even better, the Katara Cultural Village features a waterfront promenade perfect for a sunset stroll.
Last but not least, the Delights of Doha and City Tour also includes a visit to the Museum of Islamic Art.
All in all, Qatar boasts several tours to keep your days busy and entertained throughout your trip.
If you want more options, here are a few tours worth mentioning:
- Overnight Desert Safari Tour
- Doha and Al Wakrah Souq Tour
- Sunset Dhow Cruise with Doha Corniche Walk
Great Shopping Opportunities
Qatar might strike you as a quiet place to spend a vacation in. However, there are a few areas that can get quite busy and loud.
When it comes to shopping, this is where Qatar shines.
The Mall of Qatar is the most popular and known. But did you know Qatar is home to more than 15 places to shop?
Some are humble stalls lined along a charming street. While others feature high-end goods that appeal to every shopaholic.
Of course, the Mall of Qatar is one worth visiting. As one of the largest shopping malls in Qatar, there are hundreds of outlets at the Mall of Qatar. That includes a wide array of dining options for all.
For a blend of shopping, ambiance, and cafes, Mirqab Mall is another great shopping center. Although Mirqab Mall offers a wide variety of shops, the place is also famous for shoppers to enjoy its ambiance.
Msheireb Galleria offers retail stalls, art galleries, food stores, and dozens of selfie spots. Lagoona Mall is home to several of the most high-end and luxurious stores. At the same time, it’s also a great place to relax and have fun, perfect for families and the little ones.
If you want a relaxed shopping experience, Landmark Shopping Mall and Hyatt Plaza are great options. Ezdan Mall, Gulf Mall, and Dar Al Salam Mall are also fantastic options.
Overall, it should come as no surprise that Qatar offers shopping centers and malls in every district. So if you’re craving retail therapy, Qatar doesn’t fail to disappoint.
And if you want the fullest experience, be sure to check out Al Asmakh Mall and Alhazm Mall. Both are popular for their trendy cafes, excellent restaurants, and high-end fashion boutiques.
Iconic Landmarks You Can’t Miss
The beauty of Qatar isn’t as obvious as Dubai’s towering skyscrapers or impeccable architecture. Rather, Qatar’s beauty is a blend of traditional Islamic culture and modern architecture.
The perfect way of describing this country’s beauty is an abundant mix of the old and new.
For old yet charming beauty, Souq Waqif undoubtedly ranks the highest. The Al Zubara Fort is also another example of historical magnificence. The fort was originally a coast guard station but is now a museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Similar historical beauties include the Barzan Towers and Al Wajbah Fort.
Now if you’re eager to spot and take photos of Qatar’s modern beauty, there’s plenty around to see.
Two skyscrapers of incredible architecture you can’t miss include the Aspire Tower and Doha Tower. For the best experience, be sure to take the scenic elevator up to the highest floor.
Both offer panoramic views and an impressive view of the Doha skyline. In fact, visiting both at night makes for an even more spectacular experience.
Moving past old historic charm and skyscrapers, Qatar also has stunning museums. The Sidra Public Art, Qatar National Convention Center, and Qatar National Library are all worth a visit.
That said, none can compare to the waterfront promenade and artificial island in Qatar: The Pearl.
Here, you’ll find a colorful neighborhood, a play area for children, alfresco dining options, and cafes. There are also plenty of walking areas, luxury hotels, artworks, and shopping boutiques.
Whether you visit The Pearl in the morning, afternoon, or dinner, it’s a beautiful place to be. Safe to say, you could spend your entire time at The Pearl throughout your entire trip.
There are three neighborhoods to explore here, and it’s without a doubt a solitude seeker’s dream spot.
All in all, Qatar truly is a haven of soft adventure, romantic spots, and scenic beauty. While it does miss out on nightlife experiences, there’s still no denying it’s a beautiful place for a quiet, peaceful vacation.
There’s no shortage of reasons to say why the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is worth visiting. With 7 different emirates to discover, you’re bound to find just about everything here.
From cultural excursions to relaxing parks and nightlife fun, your opportunities are endless.
But what exactly does finding just about everything mean?
Here’s a quick run-through of all that you’ll discover spending your vacation in UAE.
Ajman and Umm Al-Quwain feature beaches and history. Abu Dhabi is home to grand attractions such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and a Formula 1 racing track.
Ras Al Khaimah is an emirate ideal for those looking for a beach escape from city life. It’s also known for its high-end beach resorts, along with the world-famous resort Banyan Tree.
There’s also Fujairah, which features picturesque landscapes and an endless array of soft-sand beaches. Then there’s Dubai, the most popular attraction in the UAE.
You won’t find as many natural landscapes in Dubai compared to the other emirates. However, everything else – shopping, nightlife, entertainment, adventure – is found in Dubai.
As a matter of fact, did you know Dubai is the only place in the world with a 7-star hotel? That includes the Dubai Mall, which is the largest mall on the planet.
So as you can see, spending your vacation in UAE ensures one thing: you’ll never get bored. And without a doubt, there’s something for every traveler.
What Makes UAE Unique?
A Paradise for Leisure and Vacationing
As mentioned earlier, you’ll never feel bored spending your vacation in the UAE. If you want to vacation in a country with plenty to offer, UAE is it.
There’s a vast selection of entertainment to be found here. Desert safaris, sightseeing tours, shopping malls, mosque visits, museums, art galleries, and palaces.
You can even do sandboarding, desert jeep tours, hot-air-balloon rides, and swimming with the sharks.
As for nightlife, there’s also incredible diversity all around the UAE. Some of your best options include:
- Beach parties
- Night helicopter flights
- Riding exclusive Ferrari models
- Late-night strolls by a waterfront promenade
For families, the UAE has an astounding amount of family-friendly fun. Where do you start?
Take your pick. Aquariums, zoos, indoor skiing, water parks, Legoland, dolphinariums, and more.
Wait, there’s more.
The emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, is home to the highest peak in the UAE, Jebel Jais. There are several outdoor activities here, such as zip-lining, hiking, and mountain climbing.
Climbing the Hajar Mountain peaks is a thrilling experience and offers a spectacular view at the summit.
Altogether, the UAE offers a vast selection of activities that appeal to any traveler. Nature lovers, sunseekers, those in need of solitude, outdoor junkies, honeymooners, and even families.
A Culture Utopia
The UAE’s cultural offerings aren’t limited to just mosques and museums, contrary to popular belief.
One of the country’s most prized cultural attractions lies in Sharjah.
About 40 years ago, Sharjah was once the UAE’s biggest tourist attraction until strict sharia laws were enforced. This limited Western influence turned Sharjah into a dry emirate, as how many describe it. Needless to say, Sharjah is still worth a visit.
And it should be your first stop in the culture utopia that the UAE offers. Why?
First, Sharjah has the Sharjah Art Museum, which is the largest art gallery in the Middle East. Second, at the heart of Sharjah’s Heritage Center is a walkway that feels like you’ve stepped back in time.
Wandering the streets reveals courtyards, preserved streets, ramparts, and traditional architecture. You’ll even get to see dhows, which are Arab sailing vessels with a history dating back thousands of years.
Together, these all bring a magnetic beauty that’s impossible to resist.
But it’s not all that the UAE has to offer in terms of culture.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the newest museum in the UAE. Designed by prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, the architecture and entire complex is a huge draw.
And if that’s not enough, the Louvre features a journey through human history. You’ll find collections here that date back to the earliest settlements to modern and contemporary works found today.
There’s also the emirate, Amjan which is home to the Amjan Museum and the Al Zorah Nature Reserve. What sets Amjan apart from the other emirates is it’s a great place to visit without the hassle of crowds.
Plus, the Al Zorah Nature Reserve is perfect for wildlife enthusiasts. You can also opt to go quad biking or take a breathtaking hike through the Hajar Mountains.
Whatever your cultural preferences, UAE is rich with a diverse collection that will surely leave you inspired.
The Beach Vacation You Didn’t Expect
Beaches often get left out of the beauty that is to be discovered in the UAE. If you thought spending your vacation in the UAE would mostly be in shopping centers and indoor fun, think again.
In Dubai, Jumeirah Beach is listed as one of the most beautiful beaches. Imagine golden sand, luxurious resorts, and white beach houses that overlook azure coastal beauty.
But it’s not just sipping cocktails and sun-soaking in Jumeirah Beach. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do here. These include jet skiing, kitesurfing, beach volleyball, and various water sports activities.
Dubai is home to several world-class beaches for families and sun loungers. Marina Beach and Al Mamzar Beach Park are great options.
That said, the UAE has no shortage of beach options that you’d spend your time only in Dubai.
In Abu Dhabi, one beach stands out among the rest: Saadiyat Public Beach.
Its spellbinding azure blue waters and enchanting white sands is the epitome of beach relaxation. There are even beach cafes around Saadiyat and weekly yoga beach classes.
However, Saadiyat tends to get crowded, especially on the weekends. Thankfully, there’s also Corniche Beach which was awarded a Blue Flag status. What’s more, there are 600 sun loungers and 27 cabanas at Corniche Beach. So, finding a place to rest during the day shouldn’t be a problem.
For adrenaline junkies, Al Khan Beach in Sharjah is an excellent choice. In contrast, Lou Lou’a Beach in Sharjah is a private oasis ideal for escaping beach crowds.
If you prefer an unspoiled beach with plenty of nature around, head to Ras Al Khaimah. There, make your way to Ras Al Khaimah Public Beach. The serenity you’ll find here is incomparable to any other beach in the region.
This list of best beaches in the UAE could keep going. And it’s clear that despite what you might have heard about vacationing in the UAE, it’s definitely a beach paradise you can’t miss.
Nightlife That Never Seems to End
You might have already heard that Dubai, one of the UAE emirates, is popular for its nightlife.
Well, that’s half true.
Because while Dubai is full of nightlife options left and right, it’s not the only place to party.
Around the UAE, your choices are virtually unlimited. You have beach parties, rooftop bars, exclusive clubs, and high-end lounges. What’s more, you can even opt for relaxing waterfront promenades for a chill night out.
In fact, there are a few unique clubs you won’t find elsewhere in the world.
Take the Empire Yas Bar, as an example. It’s the only club in the world that’s located on an F1 racetrack. Not only does it offer amazing drinks, but also amazing views of the Yas Marina circuit.
There’s also Armani Prive, which is one of the most luxurious bars in the UAE. The high-end lounge is located in the Burj Khalifa.
For an upscale beach club experience, visit Blue Marlin Ibiza located in Abu Dhabi. Great food, drinks, and an exciting crowd all make Blue Marlin Ibiza an excellent place to party. It’s only open every Friday and Saturday from 1 to 11 pm.
If you’re looking for a great rooftop bar, there are several options around UAE. However, the best place to find varying options is none other than Dubai.
The Cheeky Camel, SoBe, Inti, and Luna Sky Bar are a few rooftop bars you’ll never regret going to. For a mix of rooftop dining experience and partying till dawn, Tomo Restaurant & Bar is an excellent pick.
Ce La Vi is also another excellent rooftop bar, with unparalleled views of the Burj Khalifa. Then there’s Iris Dubai, which is perfect for lounging, chilling, and unwinding with impressive Dubai skyline views.
Which Is Better – UAE or Qatar?
There’s no denying the UAE is better to spend a vacation in than Qatar in several aspects. What Qatar lacks, UAE has 5x more of. And even with what Qatar has to offer, the UAE also promises similar attractions and more.
Qatar has excellent shopping, but it can’t compete with the UAE’s vast shopping opportunities. Dubai alone, home to the largest shopping mall, is proof of that.
With regards to nightlife, outdoor adventure, and entertainment UAE stands undefeated as well. After all, Qatar’s nightlife scene isn’t what it’s known for.
Despite the fact that Qatar also has beaches and natural beauty, the UAE offers more choices. From Dubai and Sharjah to Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi, you have beaches and scenic landscapes.
The UAE is definitely a well-rounded vacation steeped in leisure activities catered for all travelers. If you want unique experiences or even a break from the daily grind, the UAE has them too.
But Qatar also has a few excellent aspects that make it worth a visit—
First, it’s more affordable. Second, it’s the better choice if you want to stay away from touristy spots and the hassle of crowds. And third, you prefer a quiet destination that gives you a lot of time and places to unwind. Or truly relax in peace and spend days prioritizing self-reflection.
Whereas in the UAE, its wide selection of things to do can also be a double-edged sword. This can easily leave many unsure of how to plan their travel itinerary.
That being said, a 5-day vacation, for example, in the UAE wouldn’t be ideal. You’d need at least more than a week if you plan beach outings, partying, culture excursions, and adventure all in one trip. But at the same time, this is also what makes the UAE so enjoyable.
Either way, it all depends on what you want the most out of your vacation. And if you prefer having more to do, places to see, and a mix of adventure and nightlife in between, visit UAE.
Qatar vs. UAE Economy
If you look at the annual GDP alone, UAE has a higher economy, roughly 3x more than Qatar. But with regards to GDP per capita, Qatar’s is higher.
Recent data shows that Qatar’s GDP per capita is at $101,026. Whereas the UAE’s GDP per capita is $68,206. Both have wealthy economies, no doubt. In terms of overall growth, UAE’s is higher seeing as how its annual GDP is higher.
But when it comes to prosperity, Qatar‘s GDP per capita reflects it has a booming economy.
Who Is Richer – Qatar or UAE?
Both Qatar and the UAE have always ranked as two of the richest countries in the world. The richest countries are ranked according to GDP per capita, with annual reports revealed each year.
Based on data provided by Global Finance, Qatar currently ranks as the 4th richest country in the world. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), in comparison, ranks as the 7th richest country in the world.
However, data trends reveal that Qatar is expected to grow at 4.5% steadily for the year 2023. And what this means is that it has the fastest economic growth among all countries.
That said, Qatar’s GDP per capita ($101,026) shows it’s also richer than UAE ($68,206) by about 67%.
Are UAE and Qatar the Same?
UAE and Qatar are not the same. Although both are geographically situated in the Middle East, UAE is very different from Qatar.
For one, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is made up of 7 emirates. Whereas Qatar is an independent nation and is much smaller than the UAE.
What makes the two similar is they both share a naval border and are part of the Persian Gulf region.
In the past, Qatar and the UAE were in union, making them one country. This may be why some believe UAE and Qatar are the same.
Qatar – in UAE or Not?
Qatar is not in the UAE. While both are part of the Persian Gulf region, Qatar is not geographically located in the UAE.
In the Arabian Peninsula, the United Arab Emirates is located in the southeastern region. Whereas Qatar is located in the northeastern region of the Arabian Peninsula. This means both countries are situated close to one another, but it doesn’t mean Qatar is located in the UAE.
Is Qatar Part of the UAE?
Qatar is not part of the United Arab Emirates. It is its own independent nation. As for the United Arab Emirates, it is made up of 7 emirates, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi being two of them.
Other emirates that make up the UAE include:
- Um Al Quwain
- Ras Al Khaimah
Distance Between UAE and Qatar
According to Google Maps, the distance between UAE and Qatar is 305.3 miles (491.4 km).
UAE vs. Qatar Time
The UAE is four hours ahead of UTC, while Qatar is three hours ahead of UTC. The time difference between UAE and Qatar is 1 hour.
For instance, if it’s 1:15 AM in UAE right now, it would be 12:15 AM in Qatar.
Qatar and the UAE were not originally on good terms, but since 2021, Qatar-UAE relations have shifted.
In recent news, the UAE re-established its diplomatic ties with Qatar. Mainly because by re-establishing these diplomatic ties, it would advance Emirati interests.
UAE to Qatar by Road
If you plan to travel from UAE to Qatar by road, you can do so with car insurance and a Qatar visa. You’ll need to apply online for a Qatar visa. All of the requirements needed for a Qatar visa will also be shown once you apply.
Depending on your country of residence, the requirements also vary. Other factors include the duration of your stay and whether you’re traveling from the UAE to Qatar for leisure or business.
A good tip to keep in mind is to inform the car rental company about your plans. That way, the car rental service in the UAE can also guide you through the process.
When passing the borders from UAE to Qatar, having car insurance is also mandatory. As long as you inform your car rental service ahead of time, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Qatar to UAE Distance by Road
The distance from Qatar to UAE by road depends on where you’re driving to in the UAE.
For example, driving from Qatar to Abu Dhabi has a total distance of 365.8 miles (588.7 km). From Qatar to Dubai, the total distance by road is 693.9 miles (431.2 km).
If you plan to drive from Qatar to Sharjah, you’ll have to drive a total of 420 miles (676 km). Some emirates are farther to get to than Abu Dhabi and Dubai too.
Fujairah, for instance, is 474.6 miles (763.8 km) from Qatar. Traveling to Ras Al Khaimah requires a similar total distance too.
UAE to Qatar Bus Service
There are no bus services from the UAE to Qatar.
Can You Drive From Qatar to UAE?
You can drive from Qatar to UAE provided you have all the requirements to cross the borders. Depending on which emirate you plan to visit in the UAE, the requirements will also differ.
If you were going to Dubai, for example, you would need a Dubai visa. When you apply online, you’ll be informed of the requirements you’ll need to pass through each border from Qatar to UAE.
Also, take note that driving from Qatar to UAE also requires you to have car insurance.
This is a mandatory requirement for all vehicles traveling by road. Just in case, make sure to also bring with you the following:
- Driver’s license
- Completed Application form
- Confirmed hotel booking/reservation
- Passport (must be valid for at least 6 months)
In some cases, you may be required to bring a photo of your passport as well. Whichever car rental company you plan to rent from in Qatar, always inform them of your plans. By doing so, they can also provide you with guides, tips, and documents needed before you travel.
If you’re wondering if you would need a Hayya card, this is unlikely. Hayya cards were only required during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Hayya card served as an entry permit for international fans and granted you stadium access as well.