Doha, Qatar

Photo: FSG777 via stock.xchng
Photo: FSG777 via stock.xchng

Sochi, Rio de Janeiro, PyeongChang. Cities we knew little about—or, in Rio’s case, little beyond its beautiful beaches—will soon take the world stage as they each play host to the next three Olympic Games. Brazil and Russia will host the World Cup, as well. So what other cities should you keep on your radar in the next few years?

Doha, Qatar is definitely one. The Persian Gulf city, which already hosted the 2006 Asian Games and the 2011 Pan Arab Games, was recently announced as the location of the 2022 World Cup. So the already rapidly modernizing city will continue expanding greatly in the next 10 years.

Qatar’s capital is a relatively young city. It was founded in 1825 as a center for fishing and pearling; waterfront buildings were built of coral, mud, and stone. And then oil was found. Doha is now one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Its airport is a popular layover spot for flights around the world, new skyscrapers keep changing the city’s skyline, and shopping is the most popular pastime.

Photo: Sodabottle (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Sodabottle (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Even though the city’s new, modern buildings are no longer made of coral, the heart of Doha is still the crescent-shaped waterfront along Doha Bay. You see remnants of the city’s past—wooden dhows, souqs, and mosques. Palm trees lead to the Corniche, the seaside promenade now popular with walkers and joggers. The Museum of Islamic Art, which houses the largest Islamic art collection in the world, sits along the water on its own island. The fortress-like museum was designed by I. M. Pei, the Chinese architect who created the Louvre Pyramid. From the connected MIA Park, you have a perfect view of the city. And the alleyways of the nearby Souq Waqif, where Bedouins used to trade sheep and wool, are now full of shops that sell spices, textiles, prayer beads, and even falcons. Stop to smoke fruit-flavored shisha or sip a refreshing glass of pomegranate juice when you need a break.

Visit Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art; its huge Arab modern art collection was amassed by the former emir of Qatar. See the city from the Sky View Bar, a 15th-floor bar that overlooks the city’s bright lights and sparkling water after dark. Head outside of the city to see Zubara Fort on Qatar’s northwestern coast. Or go in the opposite direction to see the singing sand dunes that seem to hum when the wind blows.

The Doha you see today is not the same city you’ll see next time. New hotels, new malls, and new stadiums will continue to change the way we view the city. But it’s definitely a city a you’ll be seeing—and hearing a lot about—very soon.

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