All eyes are on Qatar as it gears up to host one of the most anticipated international events this month. Home to this year’s FIFA World Cup, Qatar is going to be brimming with football fans from around the world very soon. If you’re amongst the million attending the football matches, then you should make the most of this opportunity and explore Qatar’s rich art and cultural offerings. The country has some of the most breathtaking art and architectural marvels in the world. The eight football stadiums that are set to serve as venues for football matches are also no exception.
We’ve rounded up a list of must-see things to do in Qatar, especially if you’re into art and architecture:
National Museum of Qatar
This gorgeous building, designed by award-winning architect Jean Nouvel, is made up of interlocking disks. It has been inspired by the naturally occurring crystal formations, commonly known as the ‘desert rose’. Spanning across 430,500 square feet, it was built around the original palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, the former Emir of Qatar. The museum hosts interconnected galleries and exhibitions that give a unique insight into the experiences and lives of Qatari people.
Museum of Islamic Art
Unofficially known as the crown jewel of Qatar’s museums, the Museum of Islamic Art is a must-visit for various reasons. Not only does it offer a comprehensive and in-depth look at Islamic art, but it’s also been designed by legendary architect I.M. Pei, the genius behind the iconic glass pyramid outside the Louvre in Paris. The building is a pleasing mix of traditional Islamic patterns and modern architecture. It is situated next to Doha’s central waterfront promenade and is easily accessible for tourists.
Qatar National Library
While visiting a library might not be on top of most tourist’s itinerary, we’re here to tell you why it should be. Shaped like a diamond, the stunning library is a must-visit for all history buffs. It houses over a million books and has a basement heritage library which holds documents dating back to the 7th century AD.
Katara Cultural Village
This is a one-stop destination for all things culture and entertainment. If you find yourself short on time for sightseeing, make sure you have this one pencilled into your calendars. With its central amphitheatre and collection of art galleries, the Katara Cultural Village is known to host exciting exhibitions, workshops, plays, and other performances. Not only this, but it is also located next to a public beach where you can enjoy a variety of water sports if you’re the adventurous sort!
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
If you want to explore Arabic voices in art, you should head over to Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Established in 2010, this museum has a permanent collection that features more than 9,000 works by notable Arab artists, from the 1840s to the present time. It also displays works from prominent artists from African, Asian, and European countries that are connected to the peninsula.
The acclaimed American artist Richard Serra, who is known for his large-scale public art installations, has created a poignant art installation between the limestone rock formations outside Zekreet, just north of Doha. The artwork comprises of four imposing steel plates, each 14 metres in height, that are in stark contrast to the natural desert landscape surrounding them. The installation is meant to signify isolation and the passage of time.
Last, but definitely not the least, is Doha’s century-old trading market, Souq Waqif. In contrast to the city’s -futuristic skyline, the busy market is a reminder of a bygone era and is always a hub of activity. It will give you a glimpse into Doha’s traditional street life and let you experience local cuisine in the most authentic way possible.
There you have it! While this does not even begin to encompass the rich cultural offerings of the country, you can count on this to give you a quick sneak peek into what you can get up to in Qatar when you’re not watching a football match. So, update your itineraries and make sure you soak in the best of what Qatar has to offer in the field of art and culture.
Disclaimer: This article has been written in association with Qatar Tourism.