Purposefully designed by the renowned architect I.M. Pei, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha draws on traditional mediaeval Islamic architecture in a very sleek and modern structure. The museum is located on its own island off the shore at the southern end of the bay of Doha. It was inaugurated in 2009 with an outstanding collection of Islamic arts from all eras and areas of the Islamic world. In the years leading up to its opening, the government of Doha had been sweeping the antiquities market to build this impressive collection, which drove up the prices of Islamic arts all over the auction houses around the world. This museum is a must when visiting Doha, and is in itself a good reason to visit the city.
This museum is not is boring as it may sound and indeed, is an excellent modern institution which covers a field wider than "just" islamic art. The exhibition goes over several floors and has a good mix of Islam, history and artwork from all over the muslim world. Temporary exhibitions can cover Islamic topics, but there are other ones as well. When I visited, the 16th century treasure of a Dresden castle was presented. The museum building is a sight on its own, it was designed by I.M. Pei and completed in 2006. Few other buildings manage to blend Islamic Tradition with modern architecture in such a unique way. To sum up, it is one of the most importnat attractions in D>oha and can be considered a must-do.
The view from the outside terrace as well as from the café is wonderful. Entry is free, photography allowed (!) - check their website for details on opening hours. You should plan between two hours and half a day to get through the museum, depending on your interests.
Doha was first founded in the latter part of the 18th century as al-Bidda, and it grew throughout the 19th century with the arrival of the Al-Thani clan. During this century, the country came under repeated attach from both the rulers of Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, as well as the Ottomans, resulting in the construction of fortifications. In 1927, the Sheikh built Al-Koot fortress in central Doha, on the site of what had initially been a police station and then a jail. It appears that the fortress has never seen active combat, although it may have been erected with the specific aim of protecting the souq from bandits. Today, the fort serves as a museum and exhibition centre, having been renovated for this purpose in 1978.
One of the many institutes housed at Katara is the Qatar Photographic Society. While they obviously have their role in the promotion of photography in the Emirate, they also hold exhibitions. The exhibition that I visited while in Qatar was a bit disappointing – a series of photographs of a horse show in Peru – but I am certain that, as time passes, they will host more interesting and provocative shows. Photography is a rapidly growing media of artistic expression in the Gulf, thanks to the relative ease of acquiring the apparatus for it (at least for digital photograph) and also the exposition of prints through the internet. Without a doubt, this growing discipline will ensure that the QPS will soon be a showcase for local and regional talent to expose an often misunderstood part of the world to its neighbours.
The QMA is the non-profit organization that runs Qatar's museums. They also have their own exhibition space in the Katara cultural enclave, in which they attract Western and other big name artists. When I visited the city, they were hosting a Louise Bourgeois exhibition, but the museum was closed as it was a Monday. This does not appear to be a permanent collection gallery, although it does host traveling groups. I would suggest checking with the QMA's website before visiting in order to see what is being exhibited when you are stopping by Katara.
Katara really is an impressive development. While Art Dubai and the Sharjah Bienniale may make the UAE seem like the centre of the Arab cultural universe, Qatar’s plans for Katara make it evident that the Emirate is aiming to build the necessary infrastructure for a secular artistic project, one that will long outlast the boom and bust cycles of Dubai’s economy. Katara benefits from an extensive, clean beach intended to attract visitors who enjoy sun worshipping, as well as restaurants catering to a variety of tastes (Armenian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Italian). Beyond that, however, the development boasts an impressive number of cultural centres that are each one geared towards support of a different art: photography galleries; plastic art exhibitions; cinema institute; poetry institute; cultural exhibition centre; and postal museum. This is boosted by the presence of the Modern Art Museum and a Theatre, and is quite obviously influenced by the desire to encourage synergies that thrive on post-modern buzzwords like “interdisciplinary” and “cross-pollination”.
The Museum of Islamic Art is, without a doubt, one of the most spectacular collections of its kind in the world. The Emir has obviously invested a fair amount of time and resources into ensuring that this museum is a repository of the history of the arts in the Islamic world, at least until the turn of the last century. It has a permanent collection that includes all manner of plastic arts, from clothing design to pottery to carving and sculpture to calligraphy and painting. There are representatives of the arts of all different parts of the Muslim world, with more of a focus on the Arab and Persian world, but some items from Africa and the sub-Continent. There are also impressive temporary exhibitions put on with the help of the Qatar Foundation and the Emir, and these, as to be expected, tackles various topics. There are two caveats that I feel should be attached to any visit, however. The first is that the visitor should not expect to find modern Islamic art here; that is more likely to be housed in the Museum of Contemporary Arab Art. The second is that the visitor should not believe that he is going to learn much beyond the sensory pleasures of Islamic arts. The Museum is scant on detailed explanations of the arts, their development and the controversies that have determined their ebb and flow. At times, the written explanations can seem almost childish. Certainly, this is an institute to visit in order to see the wonderful items on display; but go to Athens or London or New York if you really expect to learn about the history of the arts in the Islamic World.
The Museum of Islamic Art is a fine example of modern architecture. It was completed in 2006 after designs of the Chinese American architect I. M. Pei. The museum was opened to the public in December 2008.
It houses a wide range of Islamic artefacts in its permanent gallery as well as changing temporary exhibitions.
I actually didn't visit the museum, but had a look at the illuminated architecture on a late evening stroll.
The Museum of Islamic Art is situated on a small island near the southern end of Doha Bay. It can be found in the neighbourhood of Doha's fishing harbour.
Built by the world famous architect I.M Pei sitting on an outpost on the Corniche area, it doesn't look too appealing from the outside but once inside you see the beauty of the building !!!!! with wide open views, the building itself is a major attraction. No admission price to enter museum but you must be properly dressed. The exhibits are amazing ... the top 2 floors are open for special exhibits ... spent about 2 hours here and saw everything in a non rushed way ... also on the side you can see some of the most amazing views of the downtown area. A MUST DO !!!!!!
The National Museum, housed in the attractive buildings of an old palace, reopened in April 2006 after being closed for renovations for some time. Presenty it includes exhibits on archeology, natural history, traditional costumes, jewelry, folk medicine, and other aspects of Qatari culture such as weddings and coffee. As it stands now, the archeology exhibit is pretty interesting and explains the arrowheads and other prehistoric artefacts on display, but the labelling in the other exhibits leaves much to be desired.
In the 'wedding room,' for example, there is a nuptial bed and a mannequin dressed as a bride, but no groom. Hmm, I think some more explanation is needed there. The folk medicine display also has a rather graphic photo display about 'cupping,' which Google tells me is a treatment for disease that involves drawing blood by applying a heated cup to the scratched skin.
But while the present museum may be lacking, this is not the finished product. The well-known French architect Jean Nouvel has been hired to redesign the museum, and an entire new exhibition space is being built underground, beneath the old palace (built in 1901) that serves as the museum today. This new museum is set to be completed in 2006 in time for the Asian Games, and will also include an aquarium. For info on this and other new museums set to open soon in Qatar, see the website below. Enrance is free.
Corniche is beach area, where you can walking around, jogging, or just sit relax wacthing sea and Modern cityscape of Doha.
You will find jogging track, harbour (dow), palms tree, Museum Islamic Art. On weekend in the morning many fisherman selling fish, crabs etc.
Al Koot Fort is a nice white fort nest to Souq Wakif that was built in the Ottoman period. Now it's right in the heart of the city, but originally it would have stood on the outskirts... when Doha was basically still a tiny village.
This military fortress has mad many uses: first it was a police station, then a prison and now a museum. A museum that is closed, unfortunatdly (January 2009) - as it is being restored and revamped. it is supposed to host, in the future, exhibits on traditional handcrafts and products, including fishing equipment and boats.
I have heard that the fort may be visited by appointment, but I have not tried it.
According to a friend that had visited Doha before me - the highlight of the city would have been the national Museum... what I did not know is that the museum had closed for restauration, and apparently it is going to remain closed for quite a while.
All you can do is get a very general idea of the architecture of this museum - who used to be a palace belonging to Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani. More than a palace, this imposing white building looks like a fort - with its perfectly restored walled courtyard.
Yes, this is the strange fact: the building is ready to host exhibits - but the exibits are not ready. I read that the reason is that one part of the museum is going to be turned into a modern aquarium... a very sad idea, if it were to be true.
The old Dhow harbour is an interesting sight, and it's right next to the Museum of Islamic Art. Here, however, nothing comes in the shape of an exhibition. It's a real place, with real working dhows - and a place where you can find local people out for a stroll - a clar sign that Qatar's former sea-going culture is still alive.
I visited it at dusk, and as the light was growing dim, the harbour's colours got really suggestive. However my friends later told me that the best time to visit it is in the morning - when it's buzzing with activity and you can see the local fishermen sell their catch right on the spot.
Doha Corniche is a great place to go for a walk and take in some really interesting examples of modern architecture, as well as little monuments. It's not a short walk, though - it's a palm-fringed horse-shoe-shaped 7 kilometres long walk - but it's well worth it. You'll see all Doha Bay and catch a glimpse of Palm Island - though in January 2009 it really looked like a sand bat with nothing on it. It's being "revamped", I heard.
Close to the Corniche you'll find several parks and some little monuments/statues: the most noteworthy are the Oyster and Pearl statue (a homage to Qatar's pearl-diving past), the Water Pots fountain and the Tea-pot. The first two are located near the Museum of islamic Art and the latter is positioned at the centre of a roundabout near the Sheraton Hotel.