Forget the 20th-century stereotype of a rich Arab Gulf state, of hastily thrown up tower blocks, chaotic streets and bafflingly tacky urban sculpture: Qatar - or at least the capital, Doha - has metamorphosed into a self-confident, elegant entrepĂ´t that gives the UAE a run for its money.

Occupying a flat peninsula jutting into the oil-rich waters of The Gulf, Qatar is one of the richest per capita countries in the world - a wealth exhibited in high-profile projects, such as the new Museum of Islamic Art, built to house the largest such collection in the world.

Like its other Middle Eastern counterparts, Qatar is eager to make its mark on the world stage, and having now won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup games, the scene is set for the country to impress. As well as football fans due to flood the country, Qatar's tourism numbers are set to soar in the coming years as Qatar no doubt invests even more of its vast wealth into making sure it shines during its moment in the global spotlight.

With 50% of Qatar's population living in the capital, the country is a virtual city state. But for those not content with jogging around Doha's fine corniche, a string of beaches beckon for rest and recuperation, and the magnificent dunes of Khor al-Adaid help even up the odds between God and Mammon.

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