Like the NY Times travel section article, I had the opportunity to land Saturday morning, and depart Sunday night from the capital of Qatar. My friends Alex and Gligor had recommending it as a good place to stop between London and Mumbai for the weekend.
The thing that sealed the deal for me for Doha verses the other places I considered was the new, I. M. Pei designed Museum of Islamic Art. It has been featured in the Times as well as The Economist, and looked pretty cool. After refreshing myself from the overnight flight from London, I headed there first.
The building is spectacular. It has a vaguely arabesque style – something of a mix between mosque and ancient palace — as you would expect, but done in a very modern way. It juts out into the bay as you can see from this photo, and has many nice views of the newly emerging “downtown” of Doha.
The collection on display was interesting, but struck me as more artifacts of the ancient Islamic civilizations than the type of art I am more used to seeing displayed.
The photo above is of filters from some ancient jugs, the one below the statue of a blue monkey, and everywhere there were fragments and mosaics of tiles. I think the most recent part of the collection was created in the 18th century.
Following the museum, I walked down the Corniche back to my hotel, taking in the breeze from the bay which made the temperature feel like 90 degrees instead of the 100 that it was.
That evening we explored the Souk Waqif, which for my money was the best spot in Doha. A ‘bazaar’ not dissimilar to the ones in Turkey or Egypt that I’ve been to, but this one was modernized sometime in the past ten years. It seemed that while there were standard tourist kitsch for sale there, there were also many things that regular people would buy: cooking pots, hardware supplies, etc. There was almost no hawking of goods as we walked around. Two ‘blocks’ of the souk were devoted to restaurants, all of which had outside seating, and many rooftop dining options as well.
The next day was a bit more relaxed for me. My hotel had a beach, which I sat out and read for a while before the sun became to unbearable. Then I went off to a modern mall out in the desert which had been created to look like Venice, and had some lunch there. Finding myself with more time than things to do, I returned to the souk and had some strong coffee, and took in the scene there during the day before heading to the airport for my flight to Bombay.