It only began issuing tourist visas in 1989, but after a slow start Qatar has begun to reap the benefits of its new openness. Visitors are welcomed to a land of glitzy new hotels, towering sand dunes, ancient rock carvings and distinctive architecture.
Best known for being unknown, Qatar has a habit of falling off the world's radar. Most foreign maps of Arabia drawn before the 19th century don't show the Qatar peninsula, and most people in the West don't even know where it is. Fewer still can pronounce it (somewhere between 'cutter' and 'gutter').
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track