‘Rich is good, obviously, but to be cultured, well, that’s something else . . .’
The aspiration is to develop Qatar not just as a Cultural Capital of the Middle East, but as a centre renowned throughout the World.
The Qataris have spent a lot of money acquiring major works by eminent artists from around the world and commissioning famous architects to build their new public buildings. Their ambition however is not to just have a fabulous Art collection but to be the recognised centre for education, archaeology and conservation and through this shared cultural heritage and expertise develop deeper bonds with other Islamic countries. The head of the museum authority Sheika Al Mayassa is the 28 year old daughter of the Emir.
The Museum of Islamic Art, designed by I M Pei, was inspired by the washing fountain (sabi) at the Mosque of Ahmed ibn Tulun in Cairo. Islamic architecture is known for its precision and geometric purity of line and form, which is well expressed in the strong light and shadows, as well as vivid geometric patterns and colours. (see the banner for external view!)
The Museum of Islamic Art is built on a man-made island.
‘7’ by Richard Serra.
Mathaf, The Arab Museum of Modern Art.
The National Museum of Qatar (completion date 2014), designed by Jean Nouvel was inspired by the desert rose crystal formations. It aims to celebrate and record the history of the Qatari way of life.
The Photography Museum, by Santiago Calatrava.
There is also a lively art scene in Doha and small growing group of contemporary regional artists (eg Farah Daham, Yousef Ahmad, Ali Hassan, Salman Al Malik) whose work are available at the independent Al Markhiya Gallery in Souk Waqif. Souk Waquf is the place many families spend their evenings, eating, shopping or enjoying outdoor music and movies. Although it has every appearance of an original Souk it too was built only a few years ago!