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United Arab Emirates

The small Arabic state of Qatar boasts futuristic architecture, world-class shopping, excellent beaches and lively traditional markets. Eager to make its mark on the world stage, Qatar's giving its close neighbour, the UAE, a run for its money, by fast becoming the region's biggest tourist and business attraction destination.

Oozing with oil-rich glitz and Gulf glamour, travellers step into the future as they wander the waterfront and city streets of Doha. Its ultramodern lifestyle; vast, vertical skyline; and fine modern buildings are the essence of Qatar. Souk Waqif is a newly renovated market in the heart of Doha, where art galleries and independent restaurants flourish. The Al Shaqab Stud is Doha's number one attraction for horse lovers, offering them the chance to get up close to Emir Sheik Hamad Bin Ali Al Thani's famed, ultra-expensive, horses. The Corniche's exotic walkway is the perfect place to stroll and enjoy city views, as is a traditional wooden dhow boat cruise in the warm coastal waters. Palm Tree Island, 5 minutes off the coast, is a great place to relax by one of the many beaches, swimming pools or restaurants. Despite its full-throttle leap into the future Qatar also has an intriguing, old life. The charms of its yesteryear lie within coastal villages, rock carvings, mighty sand dunes, and the rule of an old-style dynasty. The Doha Fort is one of Doha's few historical buildings and as such is worth visiting, as is the city's Souq Waqif with its spices and shimmering textiles; and the former pearl-fishing village of Al-Khor on Qatar's north-eastern coast. Qatar's National Museum sheds light on the history of the city and its progression towards the present, with traditional costumes, lavish jewellery and an old dhow among the many visitor highlights. The palatial building itself is a fine example of Islamic architecture, dating back to 1912.

Qatari desert tours offer visitors the opportunity to get out amongst the desert scenery, scale 150 metre high sand dunes in comfortable 4-wheel drive vehicles, and perhaps sand board back down again, all in time for a traditional Bedouin-style barbecue feast at the beautiful 'inland sea' of Khor al-Adaid. The Qatari Summer produces mirages and halos of heat above the shifting desert sands although this is not the ideal season for desert activities!

Surrounded by the sea, it is also a country popular with water-sports enthusiasts and seekers of relaxation within the balmy shores of the Arabian Gulf. Visitors can luxuriate in hotels, resorts and spas such as the Sharq Village & Spa, where guests give themselves over to the sanctuary of courtyard homes, tasteful restaurants and private palm-fringed coastlines.

Summer (June to September) is extremely hot and intensely humid with daytime temperatures reaching the low 40s. Winter is cooler, averaging 23C, with occasional rainfall. Spring and autumn are warm and pleasant, with daily temperatures in the high 20s low 30s.

Click here for our suggestions on events and places to go at various times of year