Doha's Amiri Diwan Mosque (Emir's Palace Mosque) is known by several names, including Grand Mosque or Al Sheouk Mosque. It should not be confused with the new gigantic Imam Abdul Wahhab Mosque or the Islamic Cultural Centre (Fahar). The mosque was built in 1957 but has since then been expanded and altered several times. Unfortunately, it is not open for non-muslim visitors.
I would like to know more about the history of this building, but unfortunately many sources mix up the buildings as mentioned above.
Another building which is usually not accessibloe to non-muslims (and to most muslims as well) is the neighbouring Emir's City Palace (Amiri Diwan).
The Katara Mosque really is spectacular. It is a considerable break from the usual quasi-historic mosques that have been built in the Waqif Souq area, and has far, far more embellishment and decoration than would be expected on a mosque in a Wahhabi country. The mosque is not nearly as large as a grand mosque, but it is covered in the sort of colourful and patterned tiles that are generally associated with Shi’ite mosques in the Gulf Region and Iran. The tiles are undoubtedly a recognition of Qatar’s placement at the confluence of three intermingling cultural traditions: the Arab, the Persian and the African. The burst of colour provides a sharp contrast to the otherwise monotonous ochre of the other buildings in the area, and also to the gaudy and tastelessly extravagant Golden Mosque, on the opposite side of Katara.
Gulf Arabs are known for their extravagance, and also for their attempts to outdo the other Emirates and Kingdoms in the region. When Dubai built its famous Burj Khalifa, Saudi Arabia soon announced that it would build the world’s tallest tower in Jeddah. Kuwait is building a series of malls the size of Andorra just to outdo the Emirates. And Qatar is quietly the envy of all, having surpassed Luxembourg as the richest country per capita in the world. That is why the Gold Mosque should not be quite a surprise to anyone who visits Katara. This relatively small house of worship is covered entirely in gold gilded tiles. It has the same sort of rounded minaret as other traditional mosques in Qatar, and this too is covered in golden tiles. While I wasn’t able to go into the mosque to take pictures, looking in through the window showed what is a rather tasteful interior, decorated with somber rugs and fairly simple chandeliers. That, of course, doesn’t make up for the exterior, which makes one wonder exactly how true to the Prophet’s admonitions against extravagance the designers of the most were being.
This particular mosque took my fancy because of the lighthouse-like minaret and the wide, expansive courtyard that appears out front of it. It is incorporated into the main Souq Waqif complex and, as such, is likely from the last decade or two. Nevertheless, the whitewashed walls and the jaunty minaret give it the placid air of something from Qatar’s sleepier past, and, as such, made it a nice subject to be photographed.
Qatar has been so successful in remodeling some of its central areas, that it can be hard to tell what is a historical monument and what is simply a faux-historical one. The rule of thumb that should be applied is that there are very few traces of the original settlements left, and if something looks old, it has probably only been constructed to seem that way. Certainly, this mosque in Doha souq appeared to me to be a historical one, only to reveal, upon closer inspection, that it was in fact a new building. Nevertheless, it is exemplary of the style that the Qatari authorities are promoting for traditional areas, with the rounded minarets and the cool, whitewashed walls more reminiscent of North Africa than of the dusty Persian Gulf.
Al-Fanar Islamic Centre is most notable for its spectacular minaret, rising like the Western depictions of the Tower of Babel during the Renaissance. Qatar is one of the two Wahhabi states in the Middle East (the other being Saudi Arabia), and promotion of the Salafist/Wahhabi creed is important for the ruling class. Qatar has made great strides in extending the reach of it diplomacy over the past decade, and has emerged to be a powerful force shaping the course of Middle Eastern history, from Libya to Syria. The goal of this diplomacy has often been to promote allies of Qatar’s ruling family’s politico-religious philosophy, which includes proselytization amongst Muslims as it does amongst non-Muslims. The Al-Fanar Islamic Centre is a tribute to this, and a reminder to all those who visit Doha that, however liberal the city and the country may seem, it still attaches a great importance to Islam’s role in public life and the spread of the Salafist doctrine.
The mosque in Waqif Souq is done in traditional Qatari style, which features a minaret that is not unlike the traditional lighthouses that appear in the Mediterranean and throughout Europe. In truth, when compared to the minarets of the Nejd and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, clear links can be seen: the simple, geometric lines; the mud-construction; the lack of embellishment or adornment. Those that are displayed here in Qatar are suaver and softer in their design, and they produce an altogether more pleasing effect on the viewer. The Waqif Souq Mosque is indeed a functioning mosque, and while it may be part of a larger tourist site, care should be taken in photographing or entering it.
The Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre, which is commonly known as Fanar, is one of the most iconic buildings in Doha Bay.
Its spiral minaret was designed in the same style like the Malwiya Tower of the Great Mosque in Samarra in Iraq.
The building houses a Islamic Centre with lecture rooms, arabic language schools as well as a mosque.
The Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre stands near the north eastern corner of the open air market Souq Waqif. Its exact location is at the street crossing of Grand Hamad Street and Abdullah bin Jassim Street.
A large imposing mosque can be found in central Doha, on Jasim bin Mohammed St. This mosque really strikes you because it's really large (I think it's the largest in the city), with a very "thin" minaret - although apparently not exactly beautiful. Even its green-creams colours are a bit odd.
Its construction is recent, dating back to 1957 and despite its "dubious" exterior, it's supposed to be amazing inside. This, of course, according to our local friends. Unfortunately the mosque can't be visited by non-Muslims.
One of the first buildigns I noticed in Doha was this big ochre construction topped with a spiral tower... which at first could not really make out what it as. We asked our friends who live in Doha and they didn't have a clue. The following day we went there... and found it surrounded by ATM machines.
We thought it was a bank and, because it was Friday, we figured it was closed. Somehow we tried pushing one of the doors - so we went inside.... surprise, surprise - we discovered that it is a multi-purpose Islamic Centre. On the ground floor there's an informative exhibition and Islam - teorethically aimed at non Muslim people, though we were the only non-Muslims there. The part dedicated to the role of women in Islam is excellent. I highly recommend it to those who still believe that women have no rights!
Anyway at the centre we were soon made to feel welcome by everyone, and in particular a Tunisian man who offered to go and fetch us books and leaflets... and told us what the centre offered... which is a lecture theatre, a language school and a mosque. He also told us that the spiral tower is designed after a 1000 year-old tower in Samarra, Iraq.
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