Private tours hinge on the guide. In this case, Mohammad Hussain gave us four hours of magical memories that we will never forget.
The tour picked us up at the Sheraton hotel - Mohammad was waiting for us when we arrived at the concierge desk 5 minutes ahead of time - and drove us out of the city. He instructed us about cultural sites we were passing as well as the special attributes of the stadiums that we could see from the highway.
Because our tour took place in the winter, there were many campgrounds in the desert and he shared stories about the way Qatari families camp through the cooler months.
His introduction of the 4-wheeler rides was met with glee by my wife and with skepticism by me, her stick-in-the-mud husband. But I finally agreed and the 30 minutes we spent in the dunes on our 4-wheelers were instructional, exhilarating, and downright fun. Mohammad took our phones and recorded videos of my wife and I frolicking up and down the dunes with smiles that never went away.
We made it to the Inland Sea after a couple of heart-pounding sideways slides down huge dunes (50 meters? 70 meters?) and Mohammad has never rolled his vehicle - we felt completely safe (as our hearts burst out of our chests with excitement).
As the sun set on the Inland Sea and Saudi Arabia, Mohammad urged us to take off our shoes and let the sand sift through our toes. The experience grounded us in the beauty of the region and of Qatar's powder-white sand desert.
After sunset, Mohammad stopped at a lovely camp and offered a meal and refreshments with the campers. His hospitality was remarkable.
We arrived back at the Sheraton under a night sky that we will never forget.
NOTE: The afternoon tours are the best for the views - sunset, etc.