Qatar may not have the stunning sand dunes that are dotted throughout the United Arab Emirates, but this sprightly thumb in the Arabian Gulf has its spots of natural beauty. Naturally, (or I guess, not naturally at all actually), you need access to a 4x4 truck or SUV to see this spot, which lurks hidden from the Dukhan Highway.

Near the oil town of Dukhan is a spectacular canyon formed by gypsum deposits and ancient coral reefs. On a Thursday morning, this spot is empty. Nearby is an old film set through which you can wander. As much as I was intrigued by Doha, I loved my 45 minutes or so that we spent here with the adorable golden retriever mix, Poppy. It was a  sublime break from the bustle and commerce of Qatar’s capital.

Enjoy the pictures of the Qatar desert. Special thanks to Amy Bambridge, a UK expat who generously took me here last week. This ranked highly as a bright spot during my travel to the Middle East, and was the best spontaneous desert safari around.

Just wear plenty of SPF sunscreen!

Just wear plenty of SPF sunscreen!

An hour from Doha but a world away

An hour from Doha but a world away

This outcrop offers stunning views of the Qatar Desert

This outcrop offers stunning views of the Qatar Desert

The gypsum and ancient coral formations are stunning

The gypsum and ancient coral formations are stunning

Poppy loves the desert, too

Poppy loves the desert, too

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.