Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar

islamic art

Why visit the Museum of Islamic Art?

Doha’s main museum caught my attention as soon as I first appeared on the waterfront of the capital of Qatar. As it turned out, the museum is no less interesting inside than outside.

When to go?

The museum is open all year round, every day. You can get into it from 9 to 19 hours on all days except Fridays. On the first half of any Friday, absolutely everything is closed in Qatar, including shops and cafes when Muslims have a day off. 

The museum entrance is open to visitors at 13:30, after the end of the prayer time. All comers are admitted to the museum for free. There is an inscription “tickets” on the counter at the entrance, but tickets are issued simply for accounting purposes.

What to do there?

To touch a cultural layer almost unknown in most of the western world. But first, run through the main hall and admire the opening panorama of the bay. From the museum’s expansive panoramic windows, the area in which Doha’s skyscrapers are concentrated is perfectly visible. They can also be viewed from other points located on the city embankment, but only in the museum will it be possible to admire the panorama in a pleasant coolness.

From the outside, the museum looks unusual, but inside it is also unusually decorated. I found it challenging to determine what was the primary motive. The East was felt, the Arab influence was also felt, but the European style was also felt.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard Qatar tries to portray its deep involvement in world culture, it is not very good at it. The museums of nearby Egypt and Turkey beat the Museum of Islamic Art with one goal. I’m not even talking about local history or cultural museums in the west or, India or China. Some exhibits are of undoubted interest, but there are too few of them.

I loved the section on Arabic calligraphy, which had some great examples of this almost extinct art. I also looked with interest in the section where the jeweler was exhibited. In another room, I had an unusual meeting with dishes on which people and animals were depicted on the surface. This is not accepted in the Islamic tradition. But during the excursion, I got the impression that such a museum should have a more numerous sets of exhibits. 

It turned out as if the negligent hostess did not have time to prepare enough food for the guests’ arrival and smeared what was on the plate. It seemed like the plate was full, but you could still see how little food there was. 

In the Hermitage, everything exhibited in the Museum of Islamic Art would hardly be enough to decorate one more or less large hall.

How to get there?

The Museum of Islamic Art is located in the center of Doha, next to the city waterfront. The easiest way to get there is by bus. If you go from the airport, the bus stop is located next to the alley that leads from the motorway to the museums’ entrance. 

Most city buses are also suitable for travel because many routes start and end at the central bus station, and from it, you can walk to the museum in ten, in the worst case in 15 minutes. 

Another excellent and reliable option is to go for Doha van hire. It’s a tad bit more convenient than city buses.

If you go by taxi, it is better to tell the cabbie that Pearl is your destination. “Pearl Monument” is understood by all drivers, it can be problematic to explain that a museum is needed. An Islamic Cultural Center is also a significant landmark. The name “Fanar” always sounds legible. Arriving at the museum by car, you can leave it in the underground parking near the building.

Food

The restaurant on the museum’s ground floor more than makes up for the lack of exhibits at the museum; they serve absolutely divine food!

It is closed on Fridays, and the rest of the time is open from 12:30 to 15 and from 19 to 22 hours. In it, you can refresh yourself or eat for quite a reasonable price. 

Most importantly, visitors are not threatened by the prospect of grazing on street food.

Verdict

The museum is insanely fascinating, but it has too few exhibits. However, I feel like the restaurant makes up for it, but that’s up to you to decide.

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