The Museum of Islamic Art is, in my opinion, one of the best and most gorgeous architectural treasures of Doha. As a matter of fact, I find it hard to imagine the city’s Corniche without this magnificent landmark standing grandly on its private island. Deemed as one of Doha’s most recognized and prized landmarks, the museum’s image has been featured in countless television commercials, postcards and books, thanks to its dazzling design and beauty. While the MIA is relatively new (established in 2008), it has quickly become an emblem of the architectural landscape in Qatar.
A captivating architectural design
The MIA was designed by the internationally renowned award-winning Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei (also called as I.M. Pei). Fondly nicknamed as the “master of modernist architecture”, I.M. Pei was also the brains behind the stunning glass pyramid landmark in Louvre’s forecourt. With his creative genius, I.M. Pei was able to majestically design the Museum of Islamic Art, and put Doha on the map as a cultural epicenter.
photo by Jan Smith
The museum on its own is a marvelous work of art. Even I.M. Pei defines his work as a lovely piece of sculpture. A fascinating blend of traditional Islamic and modern styles, the MIA is an imposing white edifice designed with cubic shapes and geometric patterns.
To protect the MIA against the harsh climate of the region, Pei opted to overlay the building with Shamisen stone, a type of stone in France that could resist sea water and the sun’s heat. Furthermore, he placed a crescent cape in the museum’s front, to add more protection to the building from the sea. As for the interior, I.M. Pei adored it with Brazilian lacewood and Porphyry Stone.
A mesmerizing display of exhibits
Its unique and eye-catching design, however, is not the only reason tourists flock to the Museum of Islamic Art. After all, it is an exhibit area meant to showcase the artifacts and art masterpieces that the Al Thanis, the Royal Family in Qatar, have been collecting for a number of years. Trust me, a visit to this museum is an absolute feast to your eyes.
As you make your way inside this treasure vault, you will be able to catch sight of a vast and wonderful collection of exhibits, including weaponry, textiles, jewelry, glass, manuscripts and ceramics. Likewise, the museum displays 600-year old artifacts of silk and ivory inscribed with Arabic and Islamic texts. As far as I’m concerned, the visual highlights of the Museum of Islamic Art are Shah Jahan’s jade pendant, the pages of Ancient Quran, and the Book of Secrets.