Visiting The Museum Of Islamic Art, Doha

Doha museum
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One of the attractions of a visit to Qatar is the blend of contemporary and Arabic culture. Nowhere is that mixture more perfectly encapsulated than at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, a spectacular modern building full of classic works of art and traditional artefacts.

Why Visit The Museum Of Islamic Art?

The first reason for a visit to the Museum of Islamic Art is the building and its setting. Opened in 2008, it was built on an artificial island close to the entrance to the dhow harbour. It is connected to the Corniche by a palm-lined causeway, and surrounded by a park, creating an attractive approach.

Doha Museum of Islamic Art
Tree-lined approach to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha

The second reason is the museum itself, containing four floors of permanent and temporary exhibitions. This is one of the world’s foremost collections of Islamic artefacts.

Architecture Of The Museum Of Islamic Art

The exterior of the Museum is visually striking, built in white stone which casts a dazzling reflection upon the surrounding water. It was designed by the architect I M Pei, who also created the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. The building’s geometrical design is based on modern and traditional Arabic architecture, and was influenced by other major buildings, including the Alhambra in southern Spain.

The interior is a vast open space, surrounded by galleries on two floors. It is dominated by the circular staircase, which resembles an oyster shell (pearl fishing being a traditional industry of Qatar). The café has been designed in a black and white theme, and gives impressive views of the harbour, and of Doha’s high rise skyline. Outside the museum is a park with fountains and hanging gardens.  

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
The staircase resembles an oyster shell

Islamic Art And Artefacts

The museum contains artefacts from collections that have been built up by the Qatari royal family over many years. It is built on different floors: the first floor includes the coffee shop, gift shop and special exhibition area. The second floor is arranged on a thematic basis, including calligraphy, patterns and figures in Islamic design, and Science in Art. Here you will see dozens of handwritten Korans, including pages from miniature and “giant” books.

You will also find illustrations from early Indian manuscripts, and helpful explanations of the principles of Islamic art. The third floor is set out chronologically, from the 7th to the 18th centuries. It covers the whole of the Islamic world, including Spain and central Asia as well as more traditional centres of Arabic culture. Exhibits include domestic items such as carpets, ceramics, glass and tableware, as well as clothing and jewellery, coins and weapons. The range of artefacts in the museum gives a valuable insight into Islamic culture.

Visiting The Museum Of Islamic Art

  • The museum is walking distance from central Doha, and the nearest metro station is Qatar National Museum, on the Gold Line
  • The museum and gardens are open every day, although hours are reduced on Fridays
  • Tickets are valid for three days from first use 
  • Meals, drinks and snacks can be purchased in the café. There is also a haute cuisine restaurant on the top floor
  • The museum has a well stocked book and gift shop.

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3 thoughts on “Visiting The Museum Of Islamic Art, Doha”

  1. This museum of Islamic arts is art in and of itself. I really love the photos, and seeing the rounded and straight lines, vertical, horizontal, and diagonal. So perfectly balanced.

    This sounds like a fabulous place to visit, and I would love to see the calligraphy! Thank you for sharing, as I love to see beautiful architecture!

  2. Having visited Doha recently and been to this museum, which I found as fascinating as you, it was wonderous to read yr revuew. It brought back the memories and gave me an insight to areas I did not know about. Thank you

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I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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