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.
The newest and best attraction in Doha is the Museum of Islamic Art. It was designed by the architect I. M. Pei (who also designed the Louvre pyramid) on a small articifial island just off the Corniche and its architecture is stunning. It opened in 1 December 2008 and has a total area of 45,000 square metres.
The museum exhibits are located on three large floors. The first floor normally houses temporary exhibitions - the one I visited - Beyond boundaries - was excellent, showing Islamic presence and influence in many countries, in particular in Europe. On the second floor there are many permantent exhibitions - calligraphy and pattern being my favourite ones. On the 3rd floor you will find all you need to know about the history of Islamic art, from the 7th century to the present.
The museum is open from 10.30 AM till 5.30 PM (8 PM on Friday) and it's closed all day on Tuesday. Entrance is free and photography is allowed.
Once used as an official residence of Fariq al-Salata and as the palace of Sheik Abdullah bin Qassim from 1901. It is an interesting piece of Qatari architecture that can be enjoyed from the outside. Be sure to go Around back along the Al-Corniche road and see the park and outdoor maritime exhibit.
There are many ethnological exhibits in this museum depicting various aspects of Qatari life; the pearl industry, styles of dress, musical instruments, awards given, and some great old pictures of Doha.
The Ethnological Museum has moved, I am now not sure where unfortunately. However, it WAS here. So now this is office space and more of an exhibit of a traditional Qatari house in it's layout and architectural form. It is interesting to see and visualize a family living in these quarters. The traditional style "tower" is designed to give ventilation throughout the house by taking in cool air from all four courners as the wind blows past. If they are not too busy, the gentlement working there may show you around. Each room is labelled for the function it would have served for the family.
Inside the fort is a large open courtyard. Used at one time for gatherings and it also housed a small fountain, which didn't seem to be working at the time of my visit. Along the sides are small exhibits also depicting traditional Qatari life and trade craft. Follow the stairs to the right of the entrance to the wall walk. It is hard to see much of Doha due to all the commercial centers but it will give you a better view of the surrounding area.
Like many traditional homes in the Middle East there are many decorative carvings within the walls and many archways. The fort also has an exhibit of the methods of decorative gypsum and wood carving that are visible on many traditional Middle eastern homes and palaces.
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.
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.
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.
It's hard to believe this fort was originally on the outskirts of the old town of Doha; now this area is the centre of town. It is very close to the Souq Waqif, and at one point it was used as a base from which the nattoor (traditional armed guards) patrolled the souq. Careless reconstruction in the 1970s when the fort was turned into a museum meant that some of the original features were lost. Like the return to traditional architecture in the souq next door, this is now being rectified. Which means that, like just about everything else in Doha, the fort is closed while it's under construction
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.
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.
Inside the musuem are many exhibits depicting traditional Qatari life, history, environment and archeology. It also includes the pearl industry, boat making, and fishing. There apparently is also an aquarium located on the premises which is still underdevelopment.
The grounds of the National Museum can be walked with minimal effort as everything is within close proximity. It is interesting to imagine what it would have been like when this was a functioning house for hte emir.
The national museum just partially reopened in April 2006. Have a look at costumes, architecture and a multutude of Beduin traditions.
Admission is free, and the hours are from 9am to noon, then 4pm to 7pm daily.
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.