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Photo story: the heights of Doha, Qatar

Amid Doha's downtown towers that shine in Qatar's desert heat, you'll find a salute to Arabic architectural heritage in some of the city's sharp new designs.

Published 11 Aug 2017, 13:00 BST, Updated 12 Jul 2021, 10:11 BST

Located on the southern sweep of Doha's Corniche, the Museum of Islamic Art's structure (below) is as beautiful and intriguing as any of the treasures it houses. Designed by Chinese American architect IM Pei, famous for the iconic Louvre Pyramid in Paris and Bank of China building in Hong Kong, the muted facade belies the interior's stunning interplay of light, geometry and motif.

The Aspire Tower is currently Doha's tallest building at 984ft. Styled like a torch, it features The Torch Doha hotel. At the other end of the architectural spectrum, 65 miles northwest of the capital, Zubarah Fort is a 1930s military stronghold built of limestone, mud and wood.

If Doha's nightlife buzzes around the designer bars and restaurants of its luxury hotels, such as the Kempinski Al Sufra, then the daytime scene can be found at The Pearl's boutiques and cafes overlooking its yacht-packed marina.

Nearby Katara is a forward-looking 'cultural village' where modern meets traditional, as seen in the dovecotes — nest holes for pigeons — and gilded minaret.

Alive with a vibe from a bygone age, Souq Waqif is where the historic marketplace and 21st-century commerce collide. Labyrinthine, covered alleys spill onto squares and avenues lined with boutique hotels, restaurants and cafes. Day or night, it's convenient for good food, such as at Argan in the Al Jasra Boutique Hotel; coffee or mint tea on a terrace; or for losing oneself in the aromatic air of the spice market.

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Published in the Jul/Aug 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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