My first impression of Doha was that it was an immaculately clean, calm, and tranquil city with fantastic infrastructure. On my way from the airport to the hotel, we drove along the corniche, and in the distance I noticed a stunning building jetting out into the Arabian Gulf. This was the Museum of Islamic Art, a tastefully built, gigantic structure, connected to the rest of the city by a concrete bridge. I was very impressed with this majestic building. I would be heading back to this museum the following day.
I finally arrived at my hotel, and was anxious to get out and see Doha’s art scene. Since it was already 6 pm, I decided to leave the Mathaf and the Museum of Islamic Art till the following day. I have to say, the Qatari authorities have done an excellent job in promoting Middle Eastern art. A testament to their efforts was the creation of the first museum of Arab art: the Mathaf. This museum received widespread global press coverage, and its opening attracted curators, influential collectors, and art aficionados from around the world. The museum played a significant role in putting the Arab art scene on the map. It is almost impossible for a region to enhance its art scene without a museum, and the Mathaf has allowed Middle Eastern art to cross this crucial threshold.
The following day I decided to start off with a visit to the Mathaf. The museum is an important development in the Middle Eastern art world, and I felt I would not be able to understand the region’s art scene in its entirety without a visit to this establishment. I have had many friends and family visit, and they all came back very impressed. I took the cab ride to the Mathaf, which is located on the city’s outskirts, and upon arrival was greeted by statues and sculptures at the museum’s entrance. These great monuments were created by some of the region’s most renowned sculptors.
This museum was created with the support and dedication of Sheikha Mozah, who has taken a very active role in the region’s arts. No pictures were allowed to be taken inside the Museum, however Mathaf was kind enough to provide me with the images of some of my favorite works at the museum:
Jeffar Khaldi. ‘Fade Away,’ 2010. Oil on Canvas:
Dia Azzawi. ‘Red Sky with Birds,’ 1981. Oil On Canvas:
Ragheb Ayad. 1923. Oil on Canvas:
Loauy Kayyali. ‘The Mother,’ 1961. Mixed Media on Canvas:
Sliman Mansour. ‘Perseverance and Hope,’ 1976. Acrylic on Canvas:
Gazbia Sirry. 1955. Oil on Canvas:
Youssef Nabil. ‘You Never Left,’ 2010. Film and a series of hand colored gelatin silver prints:
Khaled Takreti. ‘Generations,’ 2010. Acrylic and collage on canvas:
Mahmoud Said. 1938. Oil on Board:
I was very impressed with the Mathaf! It is a must see for anyone interested in the region’s art scene. The space is beautiful, with no effort or expense spared. The selected artworks was extremely impressive. The museum has great curators and knowlegeable staff. Amongst the museum’s collection are some of the region’s masterpieces painted by the likes of Dia Al Azzawi, Hussein Madi, Loauy Kayyali, Cesar Gemayel, and Fatheh Moudarres, to name a few. The museum has become a gatekeeper to some of the most significant artworks to have ever been created in the region.
My next stop was Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art, the famed institution exhibiting some of the finest collections of Islamic art in the world. The museum is designed by the world-renown designer I.M. Pei.
Upon first entering the museum I was taken aback by its sheer grandiosity, and was also very impressed with the beautiful interior, which was designed with Islamic architecture in mind. The ground floor of the museum contains an expansive space where one can look up and admire all the intricate details of the building. The next few floors are where some of the most beautiful Islamic art works are housed.
Here were some of my favorite pieces from the Museum of Islamic Art:
Mosque Lamp: Egypt or Syria, 1348-1350:
Incense Burner: Egypt or Syria, 1294-1340:
Bucket: Egypt or Syria, Mid 14th century:
Blue Qur’an Page: N. Africa or Southern Spain, 9th-10th century:
Chopat (Games Set): India, 19th century:
Basin: Syria, 1248-1260:
Stem Cup: Southeastern Turkey, second half of 13th century:
Mosque Lamp: Egypt, 1382-1399 and 1365-1380:
War Mask: Eastern Turkey, 15th century:
The museum’s gift shop was also very impressive, stocking up on everything from great books to ancient Islamic-inspired clothes:
Doha has turned itself into the region’s cultural hub. The authorities have done an excellent job in funding and promoting the arts. The authorities have played a significant role in the creation of both the Mathaf and the Museum of Islamic Art. Qatar is a shining example of how dedicated authorities are able to enhance a nation’s art scene. Through all its efforts, Qatar has given Middle Eastern art a voice on the global art stage.
For more information on the Mathaf click here:
For more information on the Museum of Islamic Art click here: