The region’s capital of cool, with futuristic architecture and urban buzz, with one of the most stunning skylines anywhere—glass towers twist, turn, and defy gravity—Qatar’s capital city of Doha gives an unforgettable first impression. Everything you see was built after 1971, when this former pearl-fishing village became the capital, so it looks like a movie set in the not-too-distant future. The National Museum of Qatar and the Museum of Islamic Art are architectural masterpieces. Soccer is the favorite local sport, closely followed by shopping. There are massive malls filled with luxury-seekers, but don’t miss the simple stalls at Souq Waqif. Outside city limits, Doha dissolves into desert, popular for sandboarding and other sports. On a peninsula extending into the Persian Gulf, Qatar is ringed by snowy white beaches, many an easy drive from Doha.