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Overview

The tiny Gulf country of Qatar is a destination that many predict in the future might rival its neighbor, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Indeed, the capital of the oil-rich Sheikhdom is somewhere in between the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, with its attractive Corniche, beautiful white sandy beaches and laidback lifestyle, and Dubai with its glitzy luxury hotels and spas, fine dining restaurants, lively souqs, and superb small museums. Outside of Doha, Qatar offers pretty much the same kind of Arabian experience that the other Gulf countries do: ruined forts, sandy beaches, crystal clear azure-colored waters, and splendid desert sands. From Doha, ...

The tiny Gulf country of Qatar is a destination that many predict in the future might rival its neighbor, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Indeed, the capital of the oil-rich Sheikhdom is somewhere in between the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, with its attractive Corniche, beautiful white sandy beaches and laidback lifestyle, and Dubai with its glitzy luxury hotels and spas, fine dining restaurants, lively souqs, and superb small museums. Outside of Doha, Qatar offers pretty much the same kind of Arabian experience that the other Gulf countries do: ruined forts, sandy beaches, crystal clear azure-colored waters, and splendid desert sands. From Doha, you can take the opportunity to drive across the apricot-colored dunes, ride a camel as the sun sets and enjoy an Arabic feast on an organized desert safari. You can explore laidback old pearl diving villages like Al Wakrah and Al Wukair with their traditional houses and old mosques, Al Khor with its crumbling watchtowers atmospherically scattered through the town, and Al Ruweis, where fishermen mend their nets and old wooden dhows are stranded rather picturesquely on the beaches. You can take in striking and often strange desert formations, such as the pillars and mushroom-shaped limestone at Bir Zekreet. Qatar also has a few special attractions that its neighbors don't, including the ancient rock carvings at Jebel Jassassieyh and 3rd millenium BC burial mounds at Umm Salal Ali.

Lara Dunston
About the Expert

Lara Dunston and Terry Carter have traveled to over 60 countries and written more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Rough Guides, Footprint, and others on destinations in the Middle East, Europe, and South America.

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Lara Dunston for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Northeastern Arabian Peninsula, bordering Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf
  • Language: Arabic, English
  • Currency: Qatari rial