Flying to Europe on Qatar Airlines often entails a stopover in the stunning airport of Hamad International Airport. Qatar Airways markets their services as a 5-star airline and flying in business class they really make this a wonderful experience offering a seamless transfer through a separate welcome lounge with its own passport counters avoiding the long lines and often a not so positive welcome to the host city.
The airport has plenty of excellent facilities and the lounges are brilliant, but with a 6 hour layover you have plenty of time to explore the new and old city of Doha. Qatar Airlines offer via their website a city tour service which I thought sounded like a good idea to spend a few hours gaining a better understanding of the future World Soccer Cup host city. The tour is overall good but misses a fine detail of the Museum of Islamic Art, http://www.mia.org.qalocated on the Corniche or a 10-minute walk from the Souq Waqifin the old city.
The wonderful museum was the vision of the Emir of Qatar was opened in December 2008, but it’s the famed and brilliant architect I M Pei www.peipartnership.com who has made a truly remarkable building hosting stunning artworks from the Middle East come to life. To add a further exquisite touch of style and brand the exceptional three-star Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse has created IDAM with interior designer Philippe Starck completing a trio of artist’s.
The building draws influence from the ancient Islamic architecture most notably the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Egypt’s capital Cairo.The impressive arrival leads you up the drive-way where fountains welcomes visitors, but it is the beautifully designed atrium lobby in its glory that really starts the journey.
As you commence your walk up to the treasures, your eyes are firmly focused on the lobby and its gorgeous backdrop of Doha seen through the massive 45 meter tall windows creating a great backdrop for the tour. The diamond shape skylight creates a stunning effect shining light through the ornate circular metal chandelier echoing the curve of the staircase.
The art is collected from three continents over 1,000 years and is one of the world’s great collections of Islamic artifacts from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Central Asia and even from Spain. The artworks include ceramics, jewellery, wood work, paintings textiles and glass dating back to the 7th and to the 19th century. The artworks are framed beautifully in glass and lit up perfectly giving the collection the perfect display.
I could have spent many hours reviewing the fascinating artworks, but only had an hour, but will for sure return, but make sure you take your time and expand your knowledge. Enjoy lunch in the atrium lobby as you take in the scenery and then head back to the many chambers of art.
Located only 10 minutes from the airport, taxis or an Uber are easy to locate and traffic is never a major issue. Entry into the museum is free and there is a nice shop that stocks a good range of books and souvenirs.