Fascinating Qatar has something for everyone. You can take a camel trip through the desert, watch the sun set over sand dunes and sail on a dhow. Or spend a morning meandering through colourful markets where you can try and barter like a local, followed by an afternoon of horse racing. A former British protectorate, this Persian Gulf state has been governed by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s and has been fully independent since 1971. Qatar was once a renowned pearling nation but has more recently become a significant producer of oil. Qatar offers extraordinary desert scenery, particularly around Khor Al Udeid, the 'inland sea' in the south east. This is a country full of bustling souks and bazaars, selling anything and everything from embroidered cushions to camel–hair cloaks; a rich Bedouin culture, with a strong tradition of weaving and a range of intriguing sports from camel racing to falconry. Visit our hostel in the capital, Doha, it is well-placed for visiting the city's fort and intriguing museums and can advise on touring further afield.