Qatar has been catapulted into the limelight by huge changes. Almost everything in this small country is new: hotels, attractions, sports facilities, and entertainment venues. Together with our Global Luxury Luggage Partner Globe-Trotter we present a guide to this small Arabian Emirate that has been rapidly modernising and changing.
How to see great art
The Museum of Islamic Art was such a plum project that it persuaded the modernist great I.M. Pei to come out of retirement to design this showpiece building, which opened right at the start of Qatar's transformative years back in 2008. It sits on the Doha waterside in an imposing position. As such it is something of an old favourite in the Emirate where everything seems so new on every corner. Inside, displays chart the history of the most important visual art from the Islamic world.
Where can you learn about Qatari history?
Dating from 2019, the National Museum of Qatar is a striking complex designed by the starchitect Jean Nouvel, which has few similarities with any other building anywhere. Its unique design features dozens of huge saucers which shade the complex below from the desert heat. The breadth of information and artefacts inside means that a day here can bring you immediately up to speed on Qatar's intriguing history.
How can you catch an icon of Qatar?
The new Doha Airport is the hub for Qatar. When you land you'll be greeted by the luxurious and calming interiors of this spacious, modern and well-designed airport. At its centre sits the famous Teddy Bear sculpture by Swiss artist Urs Fischer. The 23-foot-tall yellow bear is stuck inside a lamp and its intriguing shape has made it a number one photo opportunity for visitors to Qatar.
Where to enjoy the old town of Doha
The best bit about staying in this old part of Doha is the historic architecture around every corner. You feel like you're getting a bit of Arab tradition with the slightly crumbling buildings and the atmospheric Souq Waqif, where you can buy various trinkets. The MGallery Alwadi sits in the heart of this area and its design harks back to earlier times. Its pool is a perfect place for an afternoon cool-off.
Where can you stroll with the locals?
In a city not known for walking (day temperatures can get up to oven-ready levels) the Doha Corniche is a welcome change: here locals and visitors stroll together as the waters of the Arabian Gulf lap up against this stately 7km curving promenade which runs from the Museum of Islamic Art round to the brutalist Sheraton, one of Qatar's first luxury hotels that dates back to 1982. Along the way the Corniche passes squares, parks and heritage buildings.
Where can you enjoy deserts, fun and beaches?
Make the trek over to the west of the country and you can visit an ancient mosque, a camel farm and a range of beaches where there are various watersports. There's also desert and mountain hiking trails and wildlife spotting. The Hilton Salwa Resort sits right on the shoreline for easy water access. There's a waterpark in the resort, a spa and seven restaurants.
Where can you have a relaxing spa session in Doha?
The InterContinental Doha Beach & Spa will relax tired travellers and will be just the wind-down session you need after a busy, sweaty, noisy day (or night) at the Lusail International Circuit. From a massage to a sauna and every treatment option in between, you'll feel re-invigorated. The newly decorated rooms are relaxing in themselves, plus there's access to Doha's longest private beach directly from the hotel.
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