Soaring skyscrapers and architectural marvels define the next generation of opulence and visual art in today’s Persian Gulf region. Set off on Ker & Downey’s Sands of Arabia journey and travel to Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates for a glimpse at the culture, rich history, cutting-edge design, and futuristic innovation of these shimmering cities through experiential travel.

Doha, Qatar – The Islamic Museum of Art

Designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei, the designer of the Louvre Pyramid, the Islamic Museum of Art stands on an artificial island adjacent to Doha’s port. Pei spent a great deal of time traveling across much of the Islamic world studying architecture, drawing inspiration from Islamic buildings such as Ibn Tulun’s mosque in Egypt and the Al Hambra Palace in Spain. The imposing white building consists of a blend of modern and traditional styles, designed so that the cubic shapes of the museum, which descend from the dome in changing geometric patterns, will interplay with the sun and the shadows. A 200-foot causeway lined with palm trees links the museum’s island to the mainland. Opened in December 2008, the Museum showcases a selection of Islamic artifacts, many of which come from the private collection of Qatar’s royal family, the Al Thanis. This Museum also features several ancient Quran manuscripts and the Qatar National Collection of Islamic Art, comprised of metal work, ceramics, jewelry, woodwork and glass collected from three continents.

Muscat, Oman – The Grand Mosque

The mosque was constructed from 300,000 tons of Indian sandstone, with a central dome and four minarets as the chief visual features. The surrounding gardens, beautifully landscaped in traditional Islamic style, leading to the white marble courtyard through a series of symmetrical white stone archways which can only be described as a photographer’s dream. From the courtyard, meander through a wooden doorway carved with verses from the Koran that leads to the main prayer hall – an astonishing rotunda that can accommodate over 6,000 people. The prayer hall is dramatically arcaded on two sides with striped Islamic arches supported by black marble pillars. Gilded murals in floral and traditional Islamic geometric patterns decorate the walls throughout the prayer hall while stained glass windows allow filtered light to echo the murals. One of the most amazing facts about the Mosque is its prayer mat, which covers the floor of the prayer hall. It contains over 1,700,000 knots and weighs approximately 21 tons, taking over four years to produce. This mat features 28 colors in varying shades and is the largest single piece carpet in the world.

Dubai, UAE – Ski Dubai

Snow in the Persian Gulf? The first indoor ski resort in the Middle East covers an amazing 250,000 square feet, blanketed with real snow all year round. Ski Dubai has five runs that vary in difficulty, height and steepness. The longest run is over 1,300 feet with a fall of over 200 feet, making it the world’s first indoor black run. Skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels will enjoy these various slopes and snowboarders can also practice their stunts on the 300-foot quarter pipe. Kids and parents alike will have fun in the interactive Snow Park, the largest indoor snow park in the world. Ski Dubai is prepared for visitors and offers guests the use of winter clothing, ski and snowboard equipment. Your skis will carry you down the slope and the quad-chairlift and tow lift will promptly carry you back to the top for another run. You will enjoy themed restaurants; the St. Moritz Café at the entrance to Ski Dubai, and the Avalanche Café at mid-station, with views of the slope. An exclusive retail shop, Snow Pro, has expert staff to advise you on your equipment needs and the team of professional instructors will guide you through the simple, fun process of learning to ski or snowboard.

These marvels are among the many highlights during your luxury travel adventure. Ker & Downey’s signature services bring you the majesty of this thriving region in absolute splendor with exclusive tours, five-star accommodations and professional care. Contact our specialists to begin your journey through the dunes and towers of Arabia.