Sitting on the Persian Gulf, along side Saudi and the United Arab Emirates across the water from Iran, this small country is one of, if not the richest countries in the world. The Qatari nationals make up about 12.5% of the 2.1 million inhabitants. Doha the capital is a fast developing metropolis, but unlike its more widely known neighbor Dubai, has tried to better manage the pace and quality of its development.
The skyline is extraordinary, and individually, some of the buildings are truly remarkable pieces of architecture. In contrast to the soaring glass and marble of the city the Museum of Islam art is an oasis of (relatively!) understated elegance. Built on reclaimed land, backed by formal gardens and looking out over the harbor the building draws on the traditions of Islamic architecture, notably the Ibn Tulun Mosque of Cairo. Conceived by internationally acclaimed architect I.M.Pei, the Museum is comprised of a main building and an education wing linked by a large central courtyard.
The main building rises five stories topped by a central tower. The whole thing is largely built from cream colored limestone which reflects and captures the changing qualities of light, from intense and stark to to subtle and shifting shadow. Inside is housed an impressive collection, including a variety of ceramic works.
Some of the glazes and finishes were familiar to us, particularly the use of manganese and copper blues, and alongside the exquisitely detailed there were pieces that were contemporary in their simplicity.
- Jill C