|Museum of Islamic Art|
I remember we landed there in 1989 on a Gulf Air flight to India, hopping through all those Gulf Airports. Doha had a few little fighter jets sprinkled around the tarmac, and one commercial plane, and a quonset hut. I don’t know what the city itself looked like but now it looks like this:
I see it this way: Every GCC country picks a kind of theme; like Oman is “Natural Beauty and Hospitable People.” I probably shouldn’t list the other countries, as their themes aren’t necessarily flattering nor true, although some are. But Qatar’s is “Culture.” and they do totally rock it. Witness the Museum of Islamic Art.
I wanted to go there for years, and finally made it! Designed by I.M. Pei, the architecture itself is really fabulous, very interesting, magnificent. And the collections are really great, with Iran, India, Afghanistan, and Syria and Iraq quite well represented. It’s especially poignant now, with all the destruction of Islamic culture by those morons who claim to represent it....and worth remembering to any westerner who feels a little islamophobic or threatened by any of those extremist groups, that they (extremists) might hate you, but they hate other Muslims more, and their victims are mostly other Muslims, so get a grip please.
Anyway, the MIA is magnificent in every respect, from the way the pieces are displayed, the respect they are shown, to the way the light plays off the water and the passing seacraft create their own ambiance in the front. There are two temporary exhibitions now: Marvellous Creatures--showing animals in traditional Islamic Art and then upstairs you can see a wonderful show--Qajar Women. These pictures are primarily of women of the Persian court in the 19th century, just doing things, and it’s a great exhibit. As a bonus, in the hall outside are some modern images of how these women might look today and the originals are on view at a gallery in Teheran.
The theme of my weekend was art and treatments and that’s what I did. The new Zubarah hotel is excellent, and their spa is fantastic--the therapists are great, reducing me to a drooling lump of wasted wiggle three days running. Also worth a visit if you’re in Doha for a couple of days is Souq Waqif. It’s been renovated but it still has character and, most importantly, is still a bustling, working souq. It’s not just for tourists. It’s just very clean and very pretty.. Their spice market was one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever been to. Everything is fresh, neatly kept in plastic tubs from IKEA or The Container Store I think. Everything labeled, and no worry about which vermin run through the spices at night! Yes, this is my life. Cockroaches and rats crawling though the spices are always in the back of my mind when I enjoy strolling around a traditional souq, and I try to buy from places that look as if they are aware of vermin and keep them out. No problem in Doha, let me tell you. Hey, in this respect at least, I am a realist.
|Dried lemons of different ages and roses too.|
I also visited the Souq Waqif Art Gallery; they have 2 spaces in the front showing some pretty interesting pieces from the Arab world, even Oman. And the hall is lovely. Qatari artists sit around painting and drawing. That’s nice.
And looking for dinner that night I found a Kunefe and Baklava Cafe. Kunefe is one of those things that you are probably better off not knowing about, but never mind. It’s a cheese pastry, and can be made in a few ways, but the dough is that thin noodle crispy one. It’s cooked in butter, the cheese melts inside, it all gets crispy, and then rosewater sugar syrup is poured on top. And pistachios. So a plate of this comes, crispy and glistening, and the cheese melting from the sides. I mean really, how can you not have it? There are people everywhere eating these plates of kunefe at the Kunefe restaurant in Souq Waqif. And not grossly obese people either. Salaam!
|Holy Crap! Kunefe! Try this when you can!|