The fantastic Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar

If there’s one thing I admire about Qatar, it’s that the country preserves and takes care of its history. Sometimes in a very subtle way, as in the arabic letters representing prayers that decorate the lampposts on the way to the airport, or walking through the Souq Waquif. But it is in museums, like the fantastic MIA – Museum of Islamic Art, we can have the real dimension of how Qatar preserves its history, however, while looking to the future.

Read more:
10 best things to do in Doha, Qatar
Where to stay in Doha (best hotels)
National Museum od Qatar
Souq Waqif

The Museum of Islamic Art is already impressive in the distance, just a simple walk along the Corniche is enough to catch our attention.

Museum of Islamic Art
The Museum of Islamic Art

Designed with straight lines – one of the characteristics of Islamic art – the museum is a project of the architect Ieoh Ming Pei. Which in its portfolio has the famous glass pyramid at Louvre in Paris. Ming Pei traveled the world studying Islamic art to create the museum that he considered his greatest work, his Monalisa.

Museum of Islamic Art
Huge windows

In a small country like Qatar, but giant in superlatives, the choice of the building location for the Museum of Islamic Art was meticulously made. Ieoh Ming Pei had several options at his disposal, but he wanted something unique and an artificial island was built for that.

Museum of Islamic Art
Dhow Harbour

The reason is that nothing – even in the very distant future – would obstruct the front of the museum. And in the huge windows the museum displays Qatar’s past and future. On one side we see the Souq Waqif and the Dhow Harbour, boats that the ancient people ventured for months at sea to collect pearls. And in the other windows we can see the modern Doha skyline, it’s the future! The Doha Museum of Islamic Art is a bridge between Qatar’s past and future.

Fantastic on the outside and impressive on the inside

If the Museum of Islamic Art is already fantastic on the outside, it is impressive on the inside. The museum’s architecture is breathtaking.

Museum of Islamic Art
Inside of museum

The artistic tradition of the Islamic world creates rich, geometric and symmetrical ornaments. With the evolution over the centuries, this art has become more and more detailed and refined by contemporary mathematics and recently by computer, which provide tools to create modern variations of these historical ornaments.

Museum of Islamic Art
Inside of museum

And these patterns are everywhere, at the Museum of Islamic Art. Take a look at the huge central hall and the fantastic staircase. Islamic art and geometry are everywhere, I told you! Take a look at symmetry of the drawings, the floor forming patterns that seem to rise up the walls and reach the upper floors. A real gift for the eyes.

The collection of the Museum of Islamic Art

With such an impressive building, does the packaging attract more attention than the content? Absolutely not!

The museum’s collection has pieces from different parts of the Islamic world, from the Middle East to Africa, Europe and Asia. Beautiful tapestries, paintings, crockery, historic porcelain and jewelry, lots of jewelry. Many pieces belongs the private collection of the Al Thani family, who are the governors of Qatar.

Museum of Islamic Art
Museum of Islamic Art
Museum of Islamic Art
Museum of Islamic Art
The museum’s collection

There is a very interesting part with Islamic astrolabes, in addition to many navigation instruments, geometry and mathematics. The astrolabe is an ancient naval instrument that was used to measure the height of the stars above the horizon.

How to visit the Museum of Islamic Art

The Museum of Islamic Art is located on the Corniche, just around the corner to the Souq Waqif. The museum can be reached by the Souq Waqif Subway Station (Gold Line) of the brand new Doha subway system. 

The entrance to the museum costs 50 Rials (US$ 13), but you can buy the Museum Pass for 100 Rials (US$ 26) which gives access to the National Museum of Qatar, in addition to other museums for 3 days. A very nice value for money, I visited the Museum of Islamic Art twice.

Some tips

  • Take Lime & Mint, a lemonade loaded with lots of mint in the museum’s cafe. This juice is very typical of Qatar, in addition to teas and Chai, an Arabian coffee that is more like a tea with spices, very interesting and tasty.
  • Take the opportunity to take a walk at MIA Park. The park was built next to the museum. At the end of park there’s a huge lawn that looks like the mountains of the Teletubbies. From there we have a beautiful view of the Doha skyline. Golf carts provide free transportation from the museum to the park, which is very helpful in the heat of Doha.
Museum of Islamic Art
MIA Park
Museum of Islamic Art

Where to stay in Doha

Park Hyatt
I had a great experience in my second time in Qatar at the Park Hyatt Doha. The hotel is all new and really well designed, perfectly located right by the Souq Waqif, with easy access to all the museums and the subway station. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. I think which made a real difference.
Take a look at promotional rates here

Four Points by Sheraton
Four Points by Sheraton is located 2 km from the Corniche Road and Souq Waqif. Four Points by Sheraton have a wellness centre and an incredible outdoor pool. It has elegant rooms with free Wi-Fi and all kind of facilities decorated in modern style. They all come with a huge TV, iPod docking station, and minibar. 
Take a look at promotional rates here

DoubleTree by Hilton Doha Old Town
DoubleTree by Hilton Doha Old Town is located right in the center of the old town and nearby Souq Waqif. The hotel have  a covered swimming pool, a sauna and a fitness centre. The brand new accommodations have a flat-screen TV, a seating area and plenty of amenities and facilities. 
Take a look at promotional rates here

Inside Souq Waqif
Inside the Souq there are some excellent hotels, such as Tivoli’s Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels, which has an excellent location. Or the Al Najada Hotel, which is also from Tivoli and is opposite the Souq, as well as the Al Najada Doha Hotel Apartments by Oaks which is an aparthotel.

Another option is the Alwadi Hotel MGallery, which is on one of the other sides of the Souq and with an excellent location. The Kingsgate Hotel, which was where I stayed once and I really liked it.

Other options in the same area: Horizon Manor Hotel, next to the Museum of Islamic Art, as well as the Saraya Corniche Hotel and the Best Western Plus Doha.

JW Marriott Marquis City Center
JW Marriott Marquis City Center Doha is another great option. A beautiful hotel with everything you could need. Such kind and helpful staff. I would definitely recommend this hotel for everyone.
Take a look at promotional rates here

Dusit Doha Hotel
Dusit Doha Hotel is one of the most popular hotels in Westbay. The hotel is just 5-mins walk from City Centre and nearby Westbay subway station. The hotel have an amazing swimming pool at the top, comfy rooms, suites and apartments.
Take a look at promotional rates here

Wyndham Doha West Bay 
Wyndham Doha West Bay is located in the heart of business district in Westbay. Right on the corner of Doha Exhibition & Convention Center, Diplomatic area, a short walk from the incredible Katara Cultural Village, 10 minutes from the Museum of Islamic Art, Souq Waqif, The Pearl Qatar and Corniche.
Take a look at promotional rates here

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