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All photos by Ray Toh

Its doors temporarily open to visitors, Qatar’s upcoming National Museum has welcomed hundreds of curious guests in the past few weeks.

The museum is offering tours to Culture Pass members before it closes at the end of this year for exhibition installation.

It will officially make its public debut in December 2018, which is at least two years later than originally planned.

The inside

Located across from the Corniche near the Museum of Islamic Art, the National Museum has been designed to look like a desert rose growing out of the ground.

Designed by architect Jean Nouvel, and is made up of several interlocking discs that mimic the crystal formation.

Ray Toh

Qatar National Museum

According to visitors, the concept has made for a unique interior, in that it does not consist of one large space for exhibitions.

This will likely lend to some creative curation. There is also little natural light.

However, restaurant seating is slated to be outdoor and will face the sea, tour operators said.

Other offerings

Eventually, the 40,000 sq meter structure will include 8,000 sq meters of permanent exhibition space and a further 2,000 sq meters for temporary, rotating exhibitions.

The centerpiece of the National Museum was restored in 2015.


Restored palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani

It is the palace of the former ruler and “father of modern Qatar,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani.

Al Thani lived in the palace until it became the country’s former National Museum in 1975.

The National Museum will also house a 220-seat auditorium, two restaurants and a cafe, two shops, a food forum, a research center and laboratories and a park with indigenous plants, Qatar Museums previously said.

Have you seen it yet? Thoughts?

Qatar Museums

Qatar National Museum

Qatar’s upcoming National Museum is launching a series of sneak peek tours this month before it opens late next year.

To sign up for one of the 50 tours, which start on July 24, residents will need to apply for a Qatar Museums Culture Pass.

In a statement, QM Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa said that the tours would give visitors “one last opportunity” to “appreciate the architectural gem of Jean Nouvel” before the museum’s exhibits are installed.

Qatar Museums

Qatar’s Emir visits the National Museum

“This is everyone’s last chance to experience the museum as an architectural artifact. We welcome all nationalities and residents,” she added.

Some Qataris have already toured the site, and the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited the under-construction museum last month.

Culture Pass

Launched in May 2014, QM’s Culture Pass Program offers members access to a range of cultural activities across Qatar.

These include creative workshops, invitations to exclusive exhibition openings, private tours of galleries and discounts of up to 15 to 25 percent at QM cafes, gift shops and other selected sites.

Chantelle D'mello

Fire Station opening 2015

There are four tiers of membership, three of which are paid for and one of which is free.

You can apply for a Culture Pass here, and book a tour place here.

Delayed opening

According to QM, the National Museum will be ready to open its doors to all in December 2018.

Qatar Museums

Qatar National Museum

That’s two years behind its original scheduled opening date.

The museum, located across from the Corniche near the Museum of Islamic Art, is designed to look like a desert rose growing out of the ground.

When finished, it will tell the story of Qatar and celebrate its rich heritage, QM said in a statement.

“It will combine historic objects and contemporary influences, opening up a dialogue around the impact of rapid change while honoring its ancestors’ legacy,” they added.


All photos Copyright © Jessica Fulford-Dobson

A portrait exhibition about Afghan girls who have taken up skateboarding will make its regional premiere in Qatar this week.

The Skate Girls of Kabul series was taken by award-winning photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson in 2013.

It debuts at the QM Gallery (Building 10) in Katara Cultural Village on Thursday, July 20.

The exhibition is based on the story of Skateistan, a local charity that set up skate parks for kids in Afghanistan. There, it is taboo for girls to ride bikes, but not necessarily skateboards.

Dobson, who released a book of the photos in 2015, writes in her forward:

“It’s hard not to think of Afghan girls skateboarding as a remarkable and quirky clash of cultures. But when you see these girls in their beautiful, bright, flowing clothes tearing around the skate park, often yelping and shrieking with laughter, your preconceptions drop away.

You realize that however unusual it may seem, they’re doing what comes naturally to them. As with girls anywhere in the world, once you give them the chance to do something they love, each one begins to discover her own personality, her sense of style and how to express it.”

Qatar skate ramp

The exhibition has also been seen in London and New York, winning awards both times. It is now coming to the Middle East for the first time.

Copyright © Jessica Fulford-Dobson

Skate Girls of Kabul series

As a nod to the series, Qatar Museums announced that it will open a skate ramp to the public for the duration of the exhibition, which runs from July 20 to Oct. 21.

In a statement, QM added:

“The striking images bring to life the hopeful spirit of these young girls that show a new perspective and dimension to skateboarding culture — one that shows strength in the face of adversity.”