During our second last evening in Qatar, we visited the recently opened National Museum of Qatar.
Michael and I, especially Michael had been very eager to visit Qatar’s newest museum because of its unique shape of a desert rose crystal!
Rumor had it that Qatar was spending millions if not billions of dollars to buy art to showcase within this remarkable building.
The museum is located along the Corniche in Doha. We drove past the Amiri Diwan – the Emir’s official workplace – his office!
We weren’t sure about parking and took the first thing we could find near the museum! Better to find a parking spot while you can, instead of accidentally driving past the parking area then having to take another 20 minutes through traffic to backtrack!
I had been thinking during our drive to the museum that I wanted to get two signage pictures very unique to the Middle East – crosswalk signage of a man in a thobe and signage of a camel indicating a camel crossing area! Seems I got lucky finding the crosswalk sign AND men with thobes crossing the street!!!
Approaching the museum from the exit side of the building:
Michael was fascinated by the design of the building.
Qatari families on their way to visit the museum!
Walking to the main entrance:
Father Emir and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani
Pictures of Father Emir and his son, the Emir at the reception area. Great pictures!
Art on display was we walked to the first permanent exhibition:
I was shocked with the first exhibition! I was expecting the walls to be lined with Monet, or Van Gogh, or Salvador Dali as well as famous artists I’d never heard of before! Instead we walked into what I would call a Qatar National Museum of Natural History!
The Formation of Qatar
The first exhibit showed the flora, fauna of Qatar.
History of Qatar
Next we entered the history of Qatar!
Qatar – Life Before Oil
There is an interesting exhibition about Qatar’s heritage – life before the discovery of oil. A film was played with interviews of Qataris who spoke of what life was like in Qatar before the discovery of oil in 1939.
Here was a display with a tent laid out on the floor – with a projector playing a scene of what life was like in the desert before oil:
Bedouins used falcons to take down birds migrating across the Arabian Peninsula rather than trying to shoot them down. They introduced the sport of falconry to the Qataris. You can read more about falconry in Qatar at the link: Falconry in Qatar
The picture I took of the process of how to make laban was too blurry to post, so I’m writing what the description says:
“Making milk product was an important part of the diet. To prepare laban (buttermilk), women would pour milk into a metallic bowl and leave it in the sun to ferment, then it was poured into a churn and shaken. The next day, they would churn the milk by swinging the skin back and forth on a tripod until the laban separated out. The laban was sieved to separate the butter, then could be turned into ghee, from the milk, which could be drunk or boiled to make cheese (yaqt).”
Arabic Architectural Design
Heritage Everyday Items Such as Rugs and Dishes
History of Qatar’s Pearl Diving
Next we entered the history of Qatar’s Pearl Diving.
Michael and I were weary from another busy day preparing to leave Qatar. It was getting close to 7:00pm (closing time) then leaving to meet friends for dinner at Souq Waqif for 7:30pm. Therefore, at this point in the museum we didn’t linger for too long at exhibits.
Qatar’s Tribal History
This next exhibit seemed to focus on Qatar’s tribal war history. A film on the circular walls appeared to be about tribal conflict and what that looked like – perhaps this is a reenactment of the battle between Qatar and Bahrain in 1868 or the Battle of Al Wajbah in March 1893?
Qatar Discovers Oil
Following this, we entered the phase in Qatar’s history when oil was discovered….
Emirs of Qatar
I’m not sure who this first Emir was?
In our rush I forgot to backtrack and take a picture of this Sheikh’s biography.
He is either: Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani or Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani. I’m wondering if he is Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani as he is Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Thani’s grandfather. Or perhaps he is the “Founder” of Qatar, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani? That would make sense to have a tribute to the Emir who founded the State of Qatar and fought off the Ottoman Empire. But then the father of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani is Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani – the very first Emir of Qatar starting in 1847.
Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Thani
Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani
Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani
Modern Day Items Making Their Way Into Qatar
Royal Visits to Qatar
I’m not sure what these are, again I took the photo in a rush without reading what they are. These perhaps are necklaces for coronations?
Qatar Flag – maroon represents the blood shed in Qatari wars, the nine white serrated edges signify Qatar as the 9th member of the reconciled Emirates of the Person Gulf at the conclusion of the Qatari-British treaty in 1916.
Making our way to the exit, into the courtyard, then returning to our car….
We truly enjoyed the museum! I gained a deeper insight into Qatar’s heritage, which in my experience has been difficult to recognize with so much new and shiny infrastructure within the city. Public buildings, museums, hospitals, highways, sewer lines, the airport – is just so new in Qatar, along with so much transformation/construction happening as the country prepares for Fifa’s World Cup in 2022.
I can relate to the people of Qatar in two ways:
- My home province, Nova Scotia, Canada is like Qatar – a peninsula.
- Qatari people are of the sea – pearl divers. Nova Scotians too were people of the sea – fisherman. Both Qatari pearl divers and Nova Scotian fisherman lost their way of life because of the advances in society.
Doesn’t matter where we live in the world…we’re all the same…..people just making our way, one day at a time…..