If you've gone to the trouble of assembling a priceless collection of jaw-droppingly exquisite metalwork, ceramics, jewellery, woodwork, textiles and glass that spans 1,400 years, and you've put them in a stunning building designed by the architect I M Pei, then you don't get just anyone in to do the catering.
At the Museum of Islamic Art on Doha's Corniche waterfront, your coffee and sandwiches come courtesy of Alain Ducasse, one of the most celebrated chefs on the planet, with 19 Michelin stars to his name.
Ducasse has also just opened IDAM — a full-on fine-dining restaurant — on the museum's fifth floor, which served its first customers last night. In Qatar, they don't do things by half. And with one of the strongest and fastest-growing economies in the world (founded on the discovery in of oil in 1939 and the largest single concentration of natural gas in 1971), why would they? The nation's flag carrier, Qatar Airways, has grown at a phenomenal rate, and in early December becomes the first airline to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Heathrow — which will operate one of the five daily non-stop trips. (The airline has just launched a new in-flight menu created by chefs Tom Aikens, Nobu Matsuhisa, Vineet Bhatia and Ramzi Choueiri.)
Qatar sticks up like a thumb from Saudi Arabia, halfway down the west coast of the Gulf. Under the rule of Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar, and more specifically its capital Doha, on the peninsula's central eastern coast, has developed at a furious rate.
Over the past decade, Qatar's population has doubled to more than 1.5 million, 85 per cent of which is migrant workers from India, Pakistan, the Philippines, other Arab states and beyond, who have helped to construct the city's Manhattan-like West Bay skyline, Katara Cultural Village, the vast Pearl-Qatar (a man-made island development of apartments, restaurants and shops) and numerous malls. This growth and the nation's enormous wealth have meant plenty of opportunities for international luxury brands.
As well as fashion names such as Givenchy and Cavalli at the gleaming (but deserted when I visited) Gate Mall, high-end restaurant groups are being attracted to the city. Next year a branch of Nobu will occupy a purpose-built home on the marina at the Four Seasons hotel; modern Japanese Megu is already trading at the Pearl-Qatar and is soon to be joined by a fine dining restaurant from three-Michelin-starred Paris-based chef Guy Savoy.
While this news might make locals and business travellers salivate (the latter, along with passengers in transit, makes up 95 per cent of visitors to Qatar), it's not necessarily going to help the Qatar Tourism Authority meet its goal of boosting tourism by 20 per cent over the next five years.