In steeped-in-tradition Qatar, you can learn about the ancient pursuit of falconry, watch camels race across the desert and admire traditional dhows (wooden cargo boats) bobbing on the water. But the country is developing rapidly, with the capital Doha a world-class city in the making, thanks to its spectacular modern skyline, peerless Museum of Islamic Art, a fine and expansive traditional souq, and burgeoning arts and culinary scenes. On any given day you could sample a portfolio of sophisticated restaurants and then watch the sun set over sand dunes that seem to spring from a fairy tale.
As Qatar prepares to host the 2022 World Cup, there's a flurry of activity and controversy in the air – as the nation uses imported labourers for construction of roads, rail routes and stadiums for the future fans. The recent Saudi-led blockade of Qatar makes most onward Gulf travel from this once-popular stopover destination much more difficult.