Saturday, April 07, 2012

A Day at the Museum of Islamic Art

Today they were having a bazaar at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) park and I figured that was a good enough reason to spend the afternoon at the Museum. Not that I was really interested in buying anything at the bazaar but I did want to go back and see the Gifts of the Sultan again and wander around the park.

When I got there it was pretty busy, looks like the bazaar was drawing a good crowd.

After wandering around the bazaar for a while I went along the park to a special modern art exhibit the MIA had nearby.

Japanese modern-artist Takashi Murakami had an exhibition in Doha and while I'm not a big modern art fan I figured I'd check it out since I was told much of his work was similar to manga (Japanese comic books), which I like.

You weren't allowed to take pictures inside the galleries so here's my quick summary:

• Murakami’s art is said to be a combination of Andy Warhol (who was weird)
• and manga (which is weird)
• resulting in art that is . . . weird.

That said it was worth seeing, his work is bright and colorful and there was certainly moments where I would turn a corner and go, “Whoa” so at least it was interesting. I think children would like it as well.

I was able to take pictures in the gift shop, this couch . . .

. . . can be yours for the low, low price of QAR 285,000 (~$78,000). Matching chair sold separately!

I then went back to the Museum to visit the Gifts of the Sultan exhibit. You weren't allowed to take pictures but luckily I was only told that after I managed to get a picture of what is likely the most valuable piece in the collection, the Ardabil Carpet (even has its own wiki page).

After that I hung out in the new café that just opened there and had a latte. It's a really nice café. I was told that it was incredibly expensive but I found that the coffee was about the same price as other cafés (latte was a good size and QAR 18). Maybe the food is pricey? Anyway they served the coffee in these special insulated mugs that weren't hot to the touch which I thought was definitely a plus. Between the coffee, the mugs, the location, and the view, it's probably one of the nicest cafés in Doha. Worth meeting your friends there even if you're not planning to see the museum exhibits.

They had some books off to the side for customers to read while they have their coffee so I grabbed a photography book called “Visions of Yemen” by Sheikh Hassan Al-Thani. Amazing pictures, Yemen looks like a really beautiful country. I've been debating going to Yemen for the last four years or so but the instability there has always put me off. Mentioning my desire to travel to Yemen typically gets raised eyebrows and words like, “isn’t that dangerous?” from friends. I don't consider it too big of a deal when Westerners say that (I was getting the same reactions when I mentioned going to Syria [before all the recent violence] and I didn't have any problems at all and had a great time) but when my Qatari friends say the same thing about Yemen I tend to take their concerns seriously. When Gulf Arabs say going to Yemen is dangerous one should probably believe them! I do hope things settle down there soon because I really do want to go see Yemen one day.

Anyway after finishing my coffee I wandered around the park, which by this time was crowded with families enjoying the park and the playground. The outdoor cafés were packed with people and others were having picnics. One Western lady was even hiding some Easter Eggs and chocolate rabbits in some bushes for her children to find.

All-in-all a pleasant day. Have to enjoy them while you can -- summer is fast approaching.


kooki said...

The MIA Park cafe is a great place to take visitors. Steep prices but the only place in Doha, that can justify them, in my opinion.

Glen McKay said...

You found the MIA cafe expensive? I thought the coffee was pretty standard price, QAR 14-18. You pay around the same at Starbucks, Second Cup etc.

The food, on the other hand, is definitely expensive.