The Middle East stretch in the WTA calendar is pretty significant, with events in Abu Dhabi, Doha, and then Dubai. All of them go in consecutive weeks and generally draw really strong fields of players.
This year's Abu Dhabi Open is so packed that some notable names like Sofia Kenin had to play in the qualifiers, even though that's mostly due to her rankings.
The Qatar Open is an equally strong event, with players such as Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Elena Rybakina, and Ons Jabeur all set to appear. Aryna Sabalenka was among those, but she decided to withdraw from the event to give herself more time to recover after two brutal weeks in Australia.
The Belarusian found herself as a Grand Slam defending champion for the first time and handled the pressure as well as you can hope to win the trophy for the second time in a row.
That's one of the reasons why she doesn't need to play in Doha but rather can opt to focus on Dubai the following week. She has some good memories from the event, having won here in 2020 by beating Petra Kvitova in the final 6-3 6-3.
The week after that, the Dubai Championships is another WTA 1000 event, so purely from that standpoint, it makes sense to skip Doha for her, as she will enter another WTA 1000 tournament more relaxed than her opponents.
She made it to the quarter-finals in Dubai last year and certainly wants to do better this year, as she's chasing the world no. 1 spot again. Giving her more time to rest up following the Australian Open and better prepare would be beneficial.