Qatar has targeted itself as one of the world's leading sports destinations and continues to expand existing infrastructure and build new facilities to accommodate this growing market niche. With the announcement of the 15th Asian Olympic Games being hosted by Qatar in 2006, new sporting facilities are quickly being developed.
The country has had great success hosting previous sporting events and has hosted many international sports stars such as Pete Sampras, Tim Henman, Boris Becker, Colin Montgomerie, and Steve Ballisteros. The existing facilities are superb and include Khalifa Stadium which seats 45,000 spectators, the 18-hole, professionally designed Doha Golf Course, and Khalifa Tennis and Squash Stadium with 17 courts, swimming pool, and gymnasium. Ambitious expansion and construction plans are underway for teh 2006 Asian Olympic Games, including the construction of Olympic Village between Doha and Al Khor to house 10,000 athletes; construction of two additional stadiums; construction of 36-lane bowling alley complex; construction of shooting range, horse racing track, and stables; and upgrade and improvements to nine existing stadiums.
Horse Racing - Horse racing is one of the oldest sports most favoured in this country. The Equestrian Club organizes a number of seasonal horse race meetings, in which competition becomes more intense with hefty financial prizes offered for winners. International horse beauty contests held in the country are the focus of attention and appreciation locally, regionally, and internationally.
Falconry - These birds of prey were used originally by Bedouins to hunt game, providing an important addition to their diets. In Qatar today, the tradition of falconry remains a major sporting activity during the hunting season from October to March. During the off-season, owners and falcons continue with training exercises. Its incredible eyesight allows the falcon to lock onto its prey; it can fly at speeds of over 100 kilometres per hour and dives at twice that rate. An important bond is created between owners and falcons, and the birds are treated with great care and respect.
Golfing - For the enthusiastic golfer, a visit to the Doha Golf Club is absolutely a must. This 18-hole, 7,181-yard, par 72 championship course was designed by Peter Harradine and has played host to major international golfing championships. There is also available a nine-hole floodlit academy course and a splendid clubhouse with three restaurants and golf shop. The long-established Mesaiseed Golf Course also offers an outstanding course and has tennis courts and a swimming pool.
Diving - The warm, shallow waters of the Gulf make Qatar an ideal place for beginner divers. For enthusiastic divers, there is enough interest to keep divers happily occupied, and many people acquire their skills here. Constructed of sunken cars and oil-drums, two artificial reefs have been built for scuba-diving and create a welcoming environment for marine life, including a large variety of fish, crustaceans and corals.
Boating and Sailing - Sailing is a wonderful pastime and several private companies offer dinghies and windsurfers for rent, as well as sailing lessons for novice and experienced sailors. A sunset cruise on a traditional dhow in Doha Bay provides a stunning view of Doha at night, while luxury yachts can be rented for half- and full-day fishing trips.
Water Sports - There are both jet-skiing and water-skiing rentals, as well as pedal boat, water cycle, and kayak rentals. And for the extremely adventurous, try parasailing, surfing, or wind-surfing. Equipment is available through most hotels.
Deep-Sea Fishing - A true fishing enthusiast could not ask for more! Whether you’re an expert or a novice, you will enjoy this experience. While you fish, a delicious barbecue will be prepared onboard.
Palm Tree Island - Situated about a ten-minute dhow trip from the Corniche, Palm Tree Islands offers entertainment for the whole family. Swimming pools and beach access with shallow and deeper swimming areas, children’s play area, beautiful gardens as well as restaurants and cafés.
The Qatar National Olympics Committee (QNOC) was established in 1979 to oversee the activities and participation of Qatar's national teams in international, regional, and continental competitions. Its mission is to make sport and physical recreation available to men, women, and young people in the country to foster harmonious development in true Olympic spirit and in accordance with the Olympic Charter. A series of objectives has been developed to assist the QNOC in achieving its mandate. This committee has played, and will continue to play, an integral role in the Asian Games. Further information on the QNOC is available online at www.qatarolympics.org.