Few countries in the world are changing as quickly or as dramatically as Qatar. The worldós richest country per capita has mesmerising sand dunes and a shining capital city: Doha. Exploring the extravagance and splendour of the city is an experience verging on the surreal. Venture out of Doha and you will find exhilarating trips into the desert and much to remind you of Qatarós Bedouin origins.
Flights to Qatar are offered by many airlines and most land at Hamad International Airport. As soon as you arrive, you will be immersed in the luxury and extravagance that permeates everything the Qataris do.
The vibrant capital has much to keep you entertained, but the best way to orientate yourself initially is undoubtedly a stroll along the Corniche. This waterfront man-made crescent features parks, sandy beaches and traditional wooden dhow boats. Choose a cool evening to relax here and admire the view across the bay.
For some intense retail therapy, don't miss the Souq Waqif. Built on the site of an old Bedouin marketplace, it has been restored to create a deliberate old-world atmosphere. With hundreds of stalls selling exotic wares of all kinds, this is a place to stroll and take in the scent of Arabic perfumes and the buzz of market negotiations. There are abundant cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating to allow you to watch the world go by in comfort.
To learn about the art and culture of Qatar and the surrounding countries, visit the stunning Museum of Islamic Art. The bright white building is captivating from the first glimpse and itself conveys the essence of Islam. The museum houses diverse displays of art from all across the Islamic world.
Explore the desert
South of Doha is the huge saltwater inlet of Khor Al-Adaid, which is completely surrounded by towering sand dunes. The inland sea is only accessible by 4x4 and most tour operators arrange trips there, as only experienced divers should attempt the journey. Enjoy a barbeque in the dunes and learn to ride a camel or sand ski before camping overnight to fully experience the magical atmosphere of the desert.
A desert safari is a unique way to see the sand dunes. Once you're strapped firmly into the seat of a 4x4, your experienced driver will hurtle up and down the steep-sided dunes. It's an adrenaline-pumping ride but when you stop at one of the desert's scenic viewpoints, the experience becomes completely tranquil.
To observe camels roaming freely in the desert, head to Al-Shahaniya where camel races are held. You are free to drive alongside the eight-kilometre racetrack while a race is on; female camels can run at a speed of 40 kilometres per hour, so it's quite a spectacle.