Qatar is opening the doors to its new Islamic arts museum, which officials hope will promote better understanding of Islam and its rich culture.

Famed Chinese-born American architect I.M. Pei designed the five-story museum, which stands on an artificial island just off the coast of Qatar's capital, Doha.

The museum will house 800 artistic and historical treasures collected from Spain to India, spanning more than 1,200 years of history.

Officials say the museum is the first of many planned cultural projects, as the Gulf state seeks to transform itself into a cultural center popular with tourists.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.