As it quietly blossoms into the holiday destination of the future, the nation of Qatar is booming. In a mere 40 years, Qatar has rapidly transformed into the richest country (per capita) in the world, but its colourful heritage is far from forgotten.

The alluring capital of Doha is where you’ll find most of Qatar’s buzz, intertwining the country’s Bedouin roots with a mass of modern glamour. Glitzy shopping malls adjoin progressive skyscrapers that tower over the Arabian Gulf, while heritage souqs and the fascinating Museum of Islamic Art retain the country’s culture.

Thanks to its location at the gateway to Europe and Asia, Qatar works perfectly as a stopover destination, but its flurry of luxury tourism options have also transformed it into a brilliant destination for longer holidays too. Adventures are plentiful; explore Pearl Qatar - a man-made island that hosts high end shops and restaurants, ride a jet ski along the lengthy coast, or take a drive inland to go dune bashing in the desert.

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HIGHLIGHTS OF QATAR

Navigating the lively, traditional souqs, where locals haggle over everything from silk to livestock, spices to perfumes, in bustling stalls or cool plazas. Soak up the old Bedouin charm of Souq Waqif, Doha’s most famous market in the city centre where you can pick up all sorts of knick-knacks, and stop to take mint tea in one of the many cafes dotted around the souq.

Marvelling at the Museum of Islamic Art, a striking cubistic building encasing exquisite Islamic artworks and artefacts originating from Arabia, Europe and Asia. Prominent 86-year old architect IM Pei was behind the extraordinary design of the museum, and past projects like the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris hints at his flair for dreaming up pioneering architecture.

Seeking a welcome respite from the sizzling heat in Doha’s air-conditioned shopping malls – as well as ducking in and out of their fantastic shops and restaurants, of course. Villagio Mall is our favourite: designed to resemble Venice, with cloud sky dioramas adorning the ceiling and pretty faux-canals, where you can go for a gondola boat ride.

Strolling down Al-Corniche, a crescent of seafront promenade that looks out towards West Bay and its glittering skyscrapers. Glide out to sea on a dhow to get the best views of the city and tuck into a traditional lunch or dinner aboard your cruise, with music and entertainment to boot.

Thrill-seeking in Qatar’s desert by dune bashing in 4x4s or quad bikes, and you can also see camels, gazelles and oryxes roving freely over the sweeping sand dunes.

Exploring the Pearl Qatar, Doha’s brand new artificial island where you’ll find beaches, hotels and restaurants off the coast of the West Bay.

PLACES TO STAY IN Qatar HANDPICKED BY EXSUS

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