Doha—the burgeoning capital of Qatar, the teeny peninsular Arab u. S. A. In the Persian Gulf—it is ready for its near-up. A steady movement of bright new hotels, splashy restaurants, lounges, and tourism efforts like providing visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, including Americans, have helped pique traveler interest through the years. But extra lately, extreme investments inside the arts are making Doha much more than a stopover destination. The most current beginning is a huge deal, no longer just for Qatar.

But the international museum world: The National Museum of Qatar opened this March to global acclaim. Designed via Pritzker Prize-prevailing architect Jean Nouvel, the $434 million construction is artwork housing progressive exhibits that discover Qatari history and records. Even in case you’re now not a history buff or an artwork geek, a stroll thru this museum is a transformative revel in—and the right anchor for a journey to this tiny us of a.

Not best is the new National Museum of Qatar, a groundbreaking historical past museum; it’s a study in storytelling: The experience starts offevolved with the oldest artifact determined in Qatar—a 400 million-yr-vintage fossilized fish—and unspools up to modern-day within the course of 11 galleries. Instead of placards, the revel in immerses site visitors in a multimedia narrative thru modern movies that take up round partitions, sounds, interactive displays, or even scents.

Each show off unpacks a distinct technology and facet of Qatari history—like Bedouin lifestyle and their dating to the panorama, a time whilst pearl-diving became the number one enterprise, and the invention of natural gasoline and oil that could all the time rework Qatar—for a takeaway that leaves traffic with a comprehensive understanding of u . S. A. And subculture this is probably greater complete and effective than any history book at the concern.

The Museum of Islamic Art is a great region to get a crash course on Middle Eastern records—and accountable for setting Doha on the map as a rising cultural middle. The 5-story limestone building, designed with the aid of I.M. Pei, houses some of the rarest items gathered from across the Islamic globe, from 7th-century Ottoman manuscripts to sixteenth-century textiles and exhibits that target women in nineteenth-century Iran and pre-Islamic Syria.

If you’re brief on time, prioritize the First Gallery or book the museum’s guided highlights tour, which takes one to 2 hours. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art showcases provocative works by current artists in a former ladies’ schoolhouse for a modern-day view of Middle Eastern artwork. A permanent series of nine,000 Arabian paintings, sculptures, installations, and movies that took 25 years to amass are on rotation, making it the largest collection of its kind.

Souq Waqif is a century-antique purchasing landmark—an severe rarity in this young city of dressmaker boutiques and air-conditioned mega shops—that recollects a time while bedouins would alternate spices, pearls, and meals. Today it gives a sample of the Qatari subculture through products. Pearl stores double as exhibits of Qatar’s pre-oil industry, while dozens of stalls are piled with an amazing style of bakhoor (Arabic incense) and Arabic spices, and craftspeople weave fishing nets in stroll-in workshops.

At nighttime, the labyrinth lights up with shisha bars and songs. The latest facet of the souk is the modern-day Gold Souq, which homes 50 gold jewelry shops that are beautiful even in case you’re now not within the market for new bling, and has museum-like window shows of conventional Qatari rings. Exploring Qatar’s herbal beauty is likewise a have-to. Arabian Adventures provides half-and full-day wasteland safari tours that careen throughout golden dunes and stop at Khor Al Udeid, Qatar’s inland sea with turquoise blue waters.