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Of all the Persian Gulf nations, Qatar is definitely the one to skip, especially if you are traveling by ship.

The Qatar government required everyone on our ship, whether going ashore or not, to obtain a visa in advance – at a cost of nearly $200 US per person and nearly one month of red tape. In contrast, most other Gulf nations issue visas on arrival (Dubai and Abu Dhabi are free, Bahrain costs $6 US; Iran costs $69 US).

This made the passengers (especially some of the British) so angry that some refused to step ashore.

Fortunately, our ship provided a free shuttle from the dock to the Waqif souk in the town center, which is a pleasant reconstruction of a traditional Arab market. Nearby is a mosque with a spiral minaret, which welcomes visitors and provides free books about Islam.

Unfortunately, there was not much else to see during our visit to Doha Qatar in March, 2008. The National Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the Photography Museum were all closed due to construction. The corniche is pretty, but so is the waterfront in almost every Gulf port.

For westerners (North and South Americans and Europeans), the visa regulations imposed by the Qatar government definitely makes this nation a skip, especially if you are traveling by ship. You’ll love the UAE instead.

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