Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Doha Museum of Islamic Arts – first visit

It’s Friday afternoon, and I can hardly believe it. We are here. Now THIS is my idea of a romantic getaway – please! Keep your chocolates (although I do love chocolate!) and your roses, keep your long lingering dinners and fabulous wine, but take me someplace where I have really wanted to go, and I will be your slave forever. You da man, AdventureMan. You know how to win my heart. 🙂



It is a glorious day and the museum has just opened. There is a huge parking lot and little carts ferrying the older people and women with small children to the entrance, but it is a nice walk, not a hard walk. Families are streaming in, and (gasp!) admission is FREE! You have to go get a ticket; I guess maybe that is how they keep track of admission statistics, but this beautiful museum, floating out over the gulf, all white and clean and gorgeous, filled with priceless objects of art, it’s free? Amazing.

We decide to start with the Beyond Borders exhibit, a special collection of art that integrates Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions in an art collection. There are so many pieces that make me gasp in awe. I see one, and I can’t resist, the camera is out of my bag, I see others snapping photos with cell phones, but I know the rules . . . hmmm. But there is nothing posted here saying “no photos!” I ask the guard if I am allowed to take photos and he tells me “You are welcome, madame, all through the museum, you may take photos.”

I am in total shock. All through the museum? I can take photos?

Here is the piece that moved me so much that I gathered up the courage to ask. It is a Madonna, painted in Aleppo, Syria, I believe, and it has an Quranic sura written in her halo:



The museum is my oyster, and my battery is dead. I didn’t bring another. Some things happen for the best, and I tuck my camera back in my purse and AdventureMan and I try to absorb what the Doha Museum of Islamic Art has to offer.

It is an impossible task. There is SO much. Not everything is well documented, and then there are sections which are amazing. There is so much to learn, and so much beauty in this museum.

If I had to choose my favorite thing of all, it would be some tiles from Kashan. In an earlier post, commenter Daggero mentioned that the word for tile used in Kuwait is “kashi” and now I know that it comes from these tiles, made in Kashan around the 1300’s (Gregorian calendar) which were famed for their intricacy, their interlocking designs, and their high quality. There are also Iznik tiles in the museum, which are thought to be greatly influenced by these tiles from Kashan.

I had no idea, but the tiles just blow me away. I would love to create some tiled rooms back in my Seattle house, with reproductions of some of these amazing star shaped tiles. For me, that was the highlight of this trip. I know there will have to be many more – this museum is filled with treasures. Free – for all the people. And yes – the gift shop is awesome!

February 14, 2009 - Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Doha, ExPat Life, Iran, Leadership, Living Conditions, Locard Exchange Principal, Qatar, Travel | ,


  1. wow! I’d love to go there! Thanks for these posts morre morremorrrre pls

    Comment by chika | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. I’ve been dying to see that Madonna – one of many, apparently – but I’m horrified that photos are allowed. Or, rather, that flashes are allowed. Photos, yes; flashes, no. Flashes damage paint, parchment, paper, … the list goes on and on.

    beyond that, though … what a gift! from AdventureMan to you, from the curators to the visitors, and from the QMA to Qatar and the world.

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  3. Chika – You can buy one of those Jazeera tickets and even go just for one day, it would be worth a trip.

    Little Diamond – I think you need a trip to Doha. Soon. 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  4. Looks good… Can’t wait to visit the gift shop 🙂

    Comment by Bu Yousef | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  5. I am so jealous -_-#
    Now I have to visit Doha 🙂

    Comment by teagirl | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  6. I want to go!!!!

    Comment by Aafke | February 15, 2009 | Reply

  7. You took us back to Kuwait’s National Museum in its heyday (pre-the systematic looting and ransacking by the invading Iraqi forces). Such a pity the public can no longer enjoy the Al Sabah collection of art & antiquities!

    Comment by Mrs & Mr. Tabouleh | February 15, 2009 | Reply

  8. TeaGirl – any excuse will do. It is such an easy trip.

    Aafke – worth a visit! You would love Doha.

    M&M- why is that? It seems like the museum has been in the process of restoration for what – 18 years? Why is it still not open? It looks like there is even a planetarium there. It could be such a cool place.

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 15, 2009 | Reply

  9. Is Doha the next Dubai ? Me thinks it is now that Jazeera are flying daily to Doha. Check out Hotel W and tell me what you think.

    Comment by Souking made Fun | February 15, 2009 | Reply

  10. Nice! I wanna go..

    Comment by Ansam | February 15, 2009 | Reply

  11. SMF – I love boutique hotels. I prefer them to large chain hotels where you could be anywhere. The management at Hotel Souk Waqif are sweet and eager to please.

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 15, 2009 | Reply

  12. Ansam – 1KD plus tax each way – can’t afford NOT to go!

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 15, 2009 | Reply

  13. I am so glad you got a chance to see the museum … it is truly a treasure.

    Just a quick note on documentation. Oliver Watson, the director of MIA gave a talk at the Qatar Natural History Group a few weeks ago on setting the museum up. Really fascinating. He sepcifically talked about labelling and the decision-making process involved … how much information to give (in two languages) and what problems might ensue and why they tended to go short and sweet instead of long and more informative. Showed some interseting labels from other museums in the UK and what could happen. So they have opted to give detailed information on the audio guides … only a few items on the guide now but lots next fiscal year and the year after.

    Comment by Sheila | February 17, 2009 | Reply

  14. Good point, Sheila. Next time I will take one of those headgear guides. This first time, we wanted an overview. I find I can get overloaded very quickly with too much information . . . I need several trips to integrate what I see. Lucky you; you can go any time! I look forward to my next visit.

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 18, 2009 | Reply

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