The coast of Qatar is almost a continuous line of sandy beaches with pockets of limestone pavement. As pretty as it looks, the sea is very shallow, making it almost impossible to swim. There are some good beaches, however, at the top resorts in Doha, at Sealine Beach Resort near Mesaieed and at Al Ghariya Resort. The nearest public-access beach close to Doha is at Katara. None of the wild beaches have facilities, and lack of shade is a problem in the summer.

Don't Miss: Falconry

Falconry is an ancient art that dates at least from the 7th century BC. The first falconer, according to tradition, was a violent king of Persia who was so entranced by the grace and beauty of a falcon taking a bird on the wing that he had it captured so he could learn from it. What he learned, according to legend, changed him into a calm and wise ruler.

It is no easy task to train birds of prey. The Bedouin, falconers par excellence, traditionally net their falcons (usually saker or peregrine) during their migration, using pigeons as bait. They train the birds through complex schedules of sleep deprivation and sparse feeding, retain them for as long as it takes to harvest fresh meat, and then set them free again at the onset of summer. Despite the rigorous training regimen, animal-welfare groups tend to focus on the falcons' prey (namely the rights and wrongs of hunting animals using falcons) rather than the welfare of the falcons themselves.

It is estimated that 2000 falcons are still employed on the Arabian Peninsula each year. Today, birds are more usually bred and ‘imprinted’ from hatchlings to create a bond that lasts a lifetime. Sporting achievement is measured not by the number of quarry caught but by the skill of the catch – and by the wisdom of leaving enough prey for tomorrow.