My dear travelers and lovers of unique trips, welcome to a new adventure on the Mr.M blog! Today’s travelogue will be the last in a series of travelogues from the State of Qatar. I sincerely hope you enjoyed this Qatar adventure and put this extraordinary country in the Middle East on your bucket-list of countries to visit in the future. This country deserves more tourists and Doha is much more than a city that has an international airport and you should take the time to explore it, as I tried to show you in my previous travelogues.
If by any chance you missed reading the previous travelogues or want to remind yourself of some interesting things about Doha, take the opportunity to visit the following links:
- Doha: The city where the future has already arrived
- The Souq Waqif and Cruise: Relax and experience the oriental spirit of Doha
At the very beginning of this last post in the series of travelogues about Qatar, I would like to thank Visit Qatar for the kind invitation and an amazing hospitality experience. With their help, the travelogues and fashion stories that you had the opportunity to read this April were created, and I sincerely hope that you enjoyed them.
The National Museum of Qatar is a national museum in the capital of the State of Qatar – Doha. The new building opened to the public on March 28, 2019, replacing the previous building that was officially opened in 1975. This modern magnificent edifice was designed by architect Jean Nouvel who was inspired by the desert rose crystal found in Qatar. The site of the museum includes the palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Yassim Al Thani, which is the heart of Qatar’s national identity. Since 2013, the director of the museum is Sheika Amna.
Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz bin Jassim Al Thani is the director of the Qatar National Museum who is a well-known businesswoman in Qatar and the Middle East. Prior to her work at the National Museum of Qatar, Sheikha Amna worked in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs in the Qatar Financial Center. Before she was appointed director of the National Museum of Qatar under construction in 2013, she previously coordinated the Board of Directors of the future museum. The conceptual vision and operation of the museum was developed in cooperation with the people of Qatar during the previous decade before its opening.
During many years of consultation, the main conceptual concepts were developed that were used in the final appearance of the museum. However, Sheikha Amna once said that this space “is not a classic exhibition space, but a journey, which, like any real journey, does not just take people from one place to another. The museum in itself will be a story about the past of the people of Qatar”. The new museum also involved the people of Qatar to add contemporary contributions to the museum’s collection. Later in 2020, Sheikha Amna collaborated with collectors and historians to showcase Qatar’s automotive history in an exhibition at the museum.
During the tour of the museum, visitors have the feeling of moving through an unusual labyrinth of galleries that deal with three main, interconnected themes. The galleries are arranged in chronological order, starting with exhibitions on the natural history of the desert and the Persian Gulf, artifacts from Bedouin culture, historical exhibitions on tribal wars, the establishment of the Qatari state and finally the discovery of oil to the present and planned future of Qatar. Exhibitions and installations that explore these themes present audiovisual displays with carefully selected treasures from the museum’s collections.
These collections currently consist of approximately 8,000 items and include archaeological artefacts, architectural elements, household and travel heirlooms from personal collections, such as textiles and costumes, jewellery, decorative arts, books and numerous historical documents.
The mission of the National Museum of Qatar is to celebrate the culture, heritage and future of Qatar and its people, depicting the pride and tradition of Qatar, while offering international visitors a dialogue about rapid change and modernization. Since its opening, the museum has housed materials signifying Qatar’s cultural heritage, such as Bedouin ethnographic materials, maritime artifacts, and environmental items. Ancient artefacts, most of which are of local origin, are also housed in the museum.
Before oil, the inhabitants of the Arabian Gulf coast depended economically on diving in search of natural pearls. Mainly European and North American demand dictated the success or failure of each pearling season. Before large-scale exploitation of the region’s oil reserves began in the 1950s, pearl diving was the primary economic activity along the Arabian Gulf coast. Pearls have been harvested from the waters of the Gulf since time immemorial, but it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the industry grew rapidly to meet increasing global demand.
Pearls from the Gulf were traded with India, Persia and the Ottoman Empire, and then on to Europe and North America, where the aristocracy and the emerging middle class considered pearls to be luxury items to make into jewelry and clothing. By the second half of the nineteenth century, the pearl trade in the Gulf had grown to the point where it united people of all backgrounds.
There is a historical saying that Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani of Qatar said in 1877: “We are all slaves to one master – Pearls.” Pearl diving in the Gulf was a seasonal activity that took place during the summer period. Each season, dozens of pearling boats set sail from ports such as Manama, Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi to the shellfish-rich coastal shores.
British archaeologist Beatrice de Cardi and her team were tasked with undertaking expeditions to Qatar from November 1973 to January 1974 to collect artefacts for museum display. Their most significant discoveries were at the site of Al Daas, which contained numerous Neolithic Ubaid pottery sherds. Artifacts from earlier Danish expeditions launched during the 1950s and 1960s, previously housed in the Doha Public Library, were also displayed at the museum. The Museum’s Department of Antiquities played an active role in research and excavations after the end of De Cardi’s expedition. They excavated the archaeological sites of Al Wusail and Zubarah.
Materials documenting Bedouin ethnography cover a wide range of topics. Certain items on display were historically used by the Bedouins as tools and weapons, while other items included jewelry, pottery, and costumes. Traditional songs are presented in the museum; the most prominent are the works composed by Katari ibn al-Fuja’a and the former Emir Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani. In 2015, Sheikh Mubarak bin Saif Al Thani presented the first written draft of the Qatari national anthem at the National Museum.
When Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani ascended the throne in 1972, he made plans for a national museum to document the country’s heritage and traditions. In the same year, he contracted a company to design the structural and functional aspects of the museum. It was decided that the building would include the Old Amiri Palace, a dilapidated palace from the beginning of the 20th century that was previously occupied by the former emir of Qatar, Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani. The lagoon was also created to provide a place to display traditional dhows and pearl equipment.
Originally named the National Museum of Qatar, it opened on June 23, 1975. Originally, its facilities included a 100-seat auditorium and a library. In 1980, the museum received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The royal palace around which the museum is built was renovated in 2015 in preparation for the opening of the new museum.
The new museum building was built on the site of the old building. It was designed by architect Jean Nouvel, who was inspired by the desert rose, which grows around the original twentieth-century palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Yassim Al Thani. This important monument to Qatar’s past is now preserved as the heart of the new Qatar National Museum. The connected relationship between the new building and the old building is part of creating a bridge between the past and the present that Sheikh Al Mayas advocates as a way to “define ourselves instead of being forever defined by others” and to “celebrate our Qatari identity”.
Covering more than 40,000 square meters, the National Museum of Qatar consists of interconnected discs that create cavities to protect visitors from the desert heat. Located on a site occupying the southern end of Doha – the Corniche, the building of the NMoQ rises from the sea and is connected to the coast by two pedestrian bridges and a road bridge.
The museum was originally planned to open in 2016, but its opening was postponed to March 28, 2019. World magazine Time named it one of the world’s greatest places to visit in 2019, citing the integration of “impressive video screens and dioramas” alongside Jean Nouvel’s architectural design. It is an interesting fact that the National Museum was visited by slightly less than half a million visitors in less than a year after its opening. The museum attracts people because it shows the history of Qatar not through paintings and sculptures, but through lights, sounds and visuals that are characteristic of the 21st century.
During my visit to this incredible museum, I had the opportunity to visit a unique traveling exhibition of the famous French fashion house Hermès – “Harnessing the Roots”. Over time, everything at Hermès changes, every mechanism, shape, type of binding, suspension or buckle, originally conceived to equip a saddle or belt, is transferred and transformed, playing a role in the design of a completely new object, because lifestyles evolve, and with them and the wants and needs of its customers.
For “Harnessing the Roots”, Bruno Gaudichon, curator of the Museum of Art and Industry of La Piscine and Laurence Fontaine, scenographer, decided to compare the objects displayed through a thematic narrative, in order to reveal the connections and dialogue that has always existed between the objects. The five themes are: Brides de Gala, The Horse and His Staff, The Saddle, Buckled, and Ties and Belts. All the creations featured in the exhibition come from three different sources. The first is the Emile Hermès Collection – a collection of treasures and small curiosities, located in the Hermès flagship at 24 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honore in Paris, which Emile Hermès built during his lifetime. The second source is the Conservatory of House Creations, and the third and final source is the collections of contemporary fashion, lifestyle and accessories.
These items are complemented by a documentary archive and a film from 1962 in which Robert Dumas, heir and director of Hermès from 1951 to 1978, explains the art of saddle making. It is this interweaving of materials, stories and techniques that reveals the fantasy and magic of Hermès.
My dear adventurers, we have come to the end of this special travelogue in the series of travelogues about Qatar where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this unusual country on the Arabian Peninsula. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of Visit Qatar and Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel in collaboration with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Qatari culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions of this unusual experience from Qatar.
I would like to especially thank the staff of the Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel for their warm welcome and hosting me in their property. The stay in their hotel was exceptional, where I felt the warmth of home!
A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.
I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank the Visit Qatar for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Qatari culture in a completely different way.
How did you like my story about National Museum of Qatar and the presentation of the capital Doha, which adorns the heart of this unusual country on the Arabian Peninsula? Have you had the chance to visit Qatar so far?
If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!
In the following travelogues, we will discover some other interesting landmarks that you should visit if your journey takes you to capital of China!
Greetings from Doha,