Qatar is a mélange of past and present. Traditional dhows bob along its waterfront and modern, shimmering skyscrapers tower behind. This Middle Eastern country is roughly the size of Massachusetts and juts out nearly one hundred miles into the sparkling blue waters of the Persian Gulf.

Travel to the city of Al Zubara, once a thriving pearl fishing and trading port, which still maintains the look of a 18th-century Gulf merchant town. The Al Zubarah Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which houses diverse exhibits of art and archaeological findings in its museum.

The rolling sand dunes of the south east of the country envelop what is known as the Inland Sea, which is also recognized by UNESCO as a natural reserve. Arabian Gazelles wander this desert environment and, surprising to many visitors, this area is home to sea life as well. Within a large tidal embayment connected to the Arabian Gulf by a narrow channel is a lagoon system where turtles and dugongs play. With Ker & Downey, arrange a night in the desert – sit under the twinkling stars around a Bedouin-style campfire and enjoy a meal of stewed rice cooked with spices and meat.

Doha, the capital and economic center of the country, feels like a world away with its fine dining, stylish malls, and luxurious resorts welcoming guests into their spas and pools. The juxtaposition of old and new is evident here. Wander through the old souks to see men buying glimmering gold bangles and earrings for their loved ones.

Wander the boutiques of the Pearl-Qatar, a manmade island with yacht-filled marinas, villas, and hotels. Dine by the water at one of the many five-star restaurants located at this Arabian Riviera.

Water sports enthusiasts will love the abundance of opportunities to sail, waterski, canoe, jet ski, and windsurf at one of the resorts. Dive into the pretty waters to discover shipwrecks, or float and admire the glittering coast on a traditional wooden Qatari dhow to get a closer look at this country’s seafaring heritage.