Immerse yourself in Qatar's Alluring Culture?Travel | 18 Sep 2019
Qatar is a place where cultural authenticity meets modernity. It not only offers a myriad world-class art and cultural sites, but also unique experiences for all tastes.
As one of the most developing travel destinations in the world, many travelers are well aware of Qatar’s glamorous side and top attractions from luxurious resorts to lip-smacking culinary destinations. But did you know that it also has many captivating cultural treasures that are just waiting to be discovered?
The first thing that catches your eyes when you arrive in Qatar is its fascinating architecture. Gypsum has traditionally been used for construction and decoration, and you will find many intricate carvings and moulds by skilled craftsmen on the structures.
Qatar is the gulf’s leading centre of art and culture, and offers visitors stunning art and cultural experiences. The National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) is a world-class museum that opened to the public at March earlier this year. An architectural masterpiece by Jean Nouvel, it has a winding 1.5-kilometer gallery path that takes visitors on a mesmerizing journey through a series of unique, immersive environments. Each tells the story of Qatar through a special combination of architectural space, music, poetry, oral histories, aromas, archaeological and heritage objects, commissioned artworks, monumentally-scaled art films, and more.
Together, there are three chapters in the museum—‘Beginnings’, ‘Life in Qatar’, and ‘The Modern History of Qatar’. Eleven permanent galleries take visitors from the formation of the Qatar peninsula millions of years ago to the nation’s exciting and diverse present, and give voice to the nation’s rich heritage and culture, while expressing the aspirations of its people. The museum’s centrepiece is the restored Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani (1880-1957), son of the founder of modern Qatar. The building was formerly the home of the Royal Family as well as the seat of government, and was subsequently the site of the original National Museum.
When designing the museum, Jean Nouvel drew inspiration from the desert rose, a flower-like formation that occurs naturally in the Gulf region when minerals crystallize in the crumbly soil just below the surface of a shallow salt basin. Described by Nouvel as ‘the first architectural structure that nature itself creates’, the desert rose became the model for the Museum’s complex structure of large interlocking disks of different diameters and curvatures—some vertical and constituting supports, others horizontal and resting on other disks, surrounding the historic Palace like a necklace, simply awe-inspiring.
Equally captivating, the Museum of Islamic Art displays a blend of timeless traditions and sophistication. Built on reclaimed island, the majestic structure is an iconic addition to Doha’s skyline and is influenced by Islamic architecture, notably the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo. The museum is the brainchild of Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei, who came out of retirement to design it.
Five-storeys high, the main building of the Museum is topped by a high domed atrium within a central tower. An adjacent education wing is connected by a large central courtyard. The Museum contains a treasure trove of art and boasts an impressive collection of ceramics, glass, metalwork, manuscripts and textiles dating from the seventh century. Special exhibitions cover over a thousand years of Islamic art, giving an unparalleled glimpse into the region’s history and culture.
If you want to truly experience the cultural beauty of Qatar, you cannot leave without experiencing traditional events such as Ramadan & Eid. The timing of these events is based on the lunar Hijiri calendar. During the ninth month of the Hijiri calendar, Muslims observe the holy month of Ramadan by fasting from dawn until dusk.
Eid Al Fitr is a holiday commemorated when the new moon is sighted after Ramadan. After a month of fasting, a celebration of feasting begins, and goes on for three days, though shops and private businesses may reopen for work after one of two days. Eid Al Adha is separate, marking the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage. It is known as the ‘feast of sacrifice’ and continues for four days, providing a great chance to immerse yourself in Qatar’s tradition and mingle with locals!
The National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ)
Museum of Islamic Art (Architecture of MIA)
Traditional Islamic Architecture meets the 21st century -
Westminster Travel Ltd.