Museum of Islamic Art

July 7, 2016 - Doha, Qatar

7 July Doha

Last night our travel blog (and I) had a minor meltdown. I sat up for a few hours typing in our entry for the day. After having a couple of minor glitches with the first entries on the website I decided to type this one in a text editor and then copy and paste to the website. Not only had I forgotten lessons I learned last year I also forgot the major lesson from older word processors - always save, and back it up. At about the time I was putting the final full stop in place at the end of what I thought was a carefully thought out description of the day my software decided it had a problem and closed. I searched my storage but alas, no saves and NO BACKUP. You can probably guess what I said.

This morning I began typing once more and got a little done before we walked around to Al Bidda hotel for the buffet breakfast. They are always a good chance to fortify yourself for a FULL day. This one was no exception. Cereals and toast for those stuck in Western ways, croissants and brioche for the continental types, foul medames and spices for the Middle Eastern palate as well as many different, salads, yoghurts, fruit, breads and pastries. And to top it of UmAli, a sweet puff pastry in a thin creme anglais with sultanas, crushed almonds and some different things to add like brown sugar with date syrup, coconut and cinnamon. We decided we needed a little rest after that.

No, not really. The day promised to be very hot, again, so we returned to our room and I continued work on the journal while Margaret answered some emails and read. (I think Margaret is very pleased with her Kindle, as am I with mine.) Margaret also checked the opening times of the Museum of Islamic Art and we had to wait until after midday. Thank goodness as it took until then to finish rewriting yesterday's journal.

We left to walk down to the Corniche and follow it around to the Museum. After risking life and limb at the first road crossing we found the air conditioned underpass to negotiate the next dual carriageway. Not only do they drive quickly and close together here but the cars arrive from the wrong direction. But by luck we survived and began walking along the promenade. I stopped to take a picture of the dhows in the harbour and when I looked up Margaret had negotiated a trip across the bay to the main part of the city. Only 50 Qatar Riyals (or about A$20 for the two of us). The dhow was one of many competing for business that all had loud, thumping music, operated by Indian guys mostly and for Indian guys mostly by the look of it. So it was party time .... apparently, the music was on and the boat was already almost full. Although after untying the deckhand managed to encourage another group of about eight young Indian blokes to jump on board.

We were the two white faces and a bit of a novelty in the crowd. They played loud, bass thumping, Middle Eastern music the whole time but we were able to ignore it to take photos of the city and the Souq and this was probably as close to the city centre as we would get. Or wanted to get for that matter. As we were tying up after the half hour trip a group of guys asked us if they could have a photo with us so we duly posed with them and then vice versa. Did they want photos to show Mum how integrated they had become? Anyway it was a bit of fun and we joked a bit in their stumbling English and our non-existent Urdu, Hindi or whatever.

We continued on along the promenade commenting to ourselves that we should have carried some water with us and hoped to get some at the Museum. It was well up to 40ºC by now. No sooner had we said that than a chap offered to sell us bottles of cold water, just 5 Riyal. Sold, Mate! And then he put three bottles into a bag for the 5 Riyal. Should be enough to keep us going.

We had seen photos of the Museum's spectacular architecture and seen it from a distance on our dhow trip but the view as we approached just confirmed the dramatic visions of architects working in this part of the world today. This building is all flat planes at different angles and the sun and shade created a stunning sight as we approached.

Once inside (with our plastic bag of water bottles duly left at the lockers!) the architectural ideas were fully revealed. The central area was an open atrium reaching to the roof seven floors above with sweeping curves of stairs to the 1st floor and ahead of us a full height window to the harbour and sky. The collections displayed were arranged in galleries around the other three sides of the space with the first floor dealing with the history of Islamic art and the themes, the second floor dealing with the different cultural aspects from particular periods of civilisations while the third floor had a temporary exhibit devoted to Mohammed Ali. The displays were very impressive with pottery, metalwork, textiles and writing dating from the 8th to the 20th centuries. We spent most of the afternoon on the first floor and in the Mohammed Ali exhibit and left footsore and overawed, so we reclaimed our water from the lockers and left for a walk back along the promenade.

The crowds had come out now and the party boats were doing a brisk business. We learned later that the European Cup Final was to be shown on the big screen so I guess many were down there for the festivities but it was very hot. Too hot for us to hang around.

We spent an hour or two in the cool of our room before strolling out to the Moroccan Restaurant for more of the same food as last night and later walked out through the streets and alleys of the Souq. We had seen signs for the Falcon Souq but didn't realise they were actually selling falcons and other small birds of prey, along with all the equipment to keep, care for and fly them. And it was obviously a profitable business as there were more than a dozen shops catering for the hobby (pun intended). Nearby there was also a falcon hospital for injured birds, I suppose.

The crowds were out tonight and the place was very crowded so we didn't stay out too long. We had to comment on the large number of family groups, usually with Dad in charge of the stroller or toddlers while Mum followed with the older kids. It appears a very family oriented culture and many of the immigrant workers have commented on how safe it is.


Breakfast Buffet at Al Bidda
Camel parking area.
Our room at Al Musheireb
The air-conditioned underpass.

1 Comment

Judy Crewe:
July 8, 2016
The food must be amazing. Did you find somewhere to swim?
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