Doha, the most populated city in the Qatar, grew out of, and now contains the Al Bidda neighborhood in the east. Mentions of Al Bidda date back to the 17th century, but it rose to prominence in the 19th century. Doha was officially established in 1820. It became the capital city in 1971 when Qatar became independent.
It quickly became one of the main financial centers of the region. In 1996 the Al Jazeera satellite networks were established in Doha. A year later Education City was established by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. With an area of 14 square kilometers, the area houses educational facilities the serve students from school age through graduate school. Virginia Commonwelth University was the first of 8-10 foreign universities to establish branch campuses in Education City. It also houses a number of Qatari schools and research institutions.
Four historic courtyard houses dating from the early 20th century have been remodelled and extended to accommodate unified, state-of-the-art museums that together comprise a central element of the development of downtown Doha. The subject of each museum relates directly to the occupations or visions of those who originally lived in them, making them authentic mouthpieces for Qatari history and culture. The domestic architecture was reinstated using traditional construction techniques and materials; new services and technologies were integrated into floor areas and hidden recesses. Skylights were introduced for interior lighting. Careful attention was given to the arrangement, paving, water elements, and landscaping of the open courtyards. The most significant new architectural intervention was the creation of a new subterranean gallery below one of the houses.