Once belonging to the vast Ottoman Empire, Qatar is now ranked among the wealthiest countries in the world. As one of the most romantic and family friendly holiday destinations in the Middle East, it’s renowned for its extensive art collections and unspoilt sandy beaches. The country is also home to some spectacular sporting venues such as the Khalifa International Stadium, a 50,000 capacity venue, and the Aspire Dome, the world's largest multi-purpose indoor dome.
Overlooking the warm turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf, this small Arab country recently launched a special cultural programme pioneered by Sheikha Al-Mayassa, the sister of the Emir of Qatar and the Chairperson of the Qatar Museums authority.
Qatar Museums sponsors numerous museums in Doha, Qatar's flourishing capital, including the Museum of Islamic Art, designed by the acclaimed Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei. One notable event at this museum was The Tiger's Dream: Tipu Sultan exhibition, which explored the life of the prominent South Indian figure Tipu Sultan, an iconic statesman of the late 18th century.
Qatar enjoys a very high standard of living and has been ranked as one of the safest countries in the world. Thanks to its rapid economic development in recent years, there's no shortage of hotels to choose from, whether it's stylish boutique venues or famous 5-star establishments you’re after.
For those who would prefer to venture outside of Doha and explore Qatar's wild desert landscapes and giant sand dunes, there's nothing better than a desert safari tour. For a day or an entire weekend, you can dine in the desert, hop on a camel and take in breathtaking views on a comprehensive guided tour before returning to the bustling streets of the capital.
The Qatar capital has earned an enviable reputation as a premier shopping destination thanks to its luxurious malls. One of the best known is the City Center Doha, which includes an ice-skating rink, a water park and many other exciting attractions set over five levels. You can also visit the Venetian-inspired Villaggio mall, which features a special Venetian canal and a 22,000 square metre theme park that is guaranteed to provide hours of family fun.
Take a stroll along Doha's famous waterfront promenade, the Corniche, and admire the dramatic backdrop of the city's towering skyline, or visit the vibrant Souq Waqif and find beautifully hand-crafted robes and authentic local cuisine in more than 1,000 stores. Or why not immerse yourself in some of Doha's other great art galleries such as the Arab Museum of Modern Art, which exhibits a remarkable display of Arab sculptures, photos and artwork. If you have time, you should also take a look at the Katara Art Center, a venue that showcases the great works of local and regional artists.
Many major airlines provide regular flights to Qatar throughout the year. The most popular seasons for holidays in Qatar are winter and spring, when daytime temperatures are more pleasant. However, visitors will have no problem escaping Doha's hot summer days by whiling away the hours in its air-conditioned malls.
Qatar is also featured in our guide to Where's Hot in February.
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