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.
In 2003, the Government of Qatar, through the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Heritage, is in the process of transforming the Doha Corniche into an international arts and culture centre for the Gulf region. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) is assisting the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Heritage in this endeavour.
The Corniche is composed of a narrow pedestrian strip, extending 7.5km along Doha Bay from the Sheraton Hotel at the north end to the Marriot Hotel at the south, past Dhow harbour and the Doha Port facilities. A belt of prestigious administrative, cultural and commercial facilities and parks line the Al Corniche Road, a dual carriageway running parallel to the pedestrian strip. The regeneration process is intended to enhance the quality of urban living along the Corniche and to provide an international culture and arts identity through innovative, culturally appropriate and environmentally sensitive urban planning and landscaping, highlighted by selected landmark projects of international significance.
The process was a competition involving six architects of international renown who were invited to respond to the detailed brief. The architects were:
Patrick Berger Zaha Hadid Kamel Louafi Jean Nouvel D. Paysage Architects Martha Schwartz Inc.