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All photos courtesy of Qatar Museums

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani took a tour of the under-construction National Museum this week.

The visit marked his first semi-public appearance since the Gulf dispute erupted two weeks ago.

While there, Qatar Museums Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani announced a new opening date for the much-anticipated building.

Ray Toh/Flickr

An aerial look at the under-construction National Museum of Qatar, in July 2016

The National Museum is now eying a December 2018 launch, which is at least two years later than originally planned.

In a statement, Sheikha Al Mayassa, who is also the Emir’s sister, said:

“The museum is the physical manifestation of Qatar’s proud identity, connecting the country’s history with its diverse and cosmopolitan present.

It will reflect a part of every Qatari’s life, representing our roots and identity. The opening of the National Museum of Qatar will firmly position our country on the global map as a progressive, knowledge-based economy with a long and rich history and give Qatar a voice in the world.”

When completed, the museum, located across from the Corniche near the Museum of Islamic Art, is expected to look like a desert rose that appears to grow out of the ground.

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

Emir’s appearance

The Emir’s museum visit will likely bolster the spirits of residents who have been rallying around him over the past few weeks.

Sheikh Tamim’s likeness has been plastered on cars, t-shirts, hats, stickers and other paraphernalia around the country.

Qatar Museums

Qatar’s Emir visits National Museum

However, the Emir himself hasn’t been seen out and about since the dispute erupted two weeks ago.

He was due to publicly address the nation shortly after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE cut ties, but then canceled the speech at the advice of mediator Kuwait.

Museum timetable

It is unclear why the National Museum is so far behind schedule.

A spokesperson previously said construction of the building would be completed by late 2014.

Qatar Museums/Twitter

National Museum of Qatar

It would then take about six months for the cement “off-gassing,” or the release of emissions trapped inside the facility, to occur.

After that, installation of artwork would take at least a year, she said at the time.

The outside of the museum appears to be almost complete, and “behind-the-scenes” tours of the facility have been going on for months.

What’s inside

When completed, the museum is expected to represent the “past, present and future of Qatar.”

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.


Restored palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani

The centerpiece of the National Museum was successfully restored in 2015.

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

He lived in the structure from when it was built in the early 20th century until it became the country’s former National Museum in 1975.

There will also be 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, QM previously said.


Tommaso / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Several prisoners in Qatar have been pardoned by the Emir as part of an annual Ramadan tradition, QNA reports.

No specific details were provided, but typically the prisoners have already served a large portion of their sentences.

Additionally, many of the pardoned usually hail from nations that have a lot of nationals in Qatar, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines.


Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani

Each year, various embassies said they are asked to send a list of potential inmates to the government to consider for release.


Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani generally pardons prisoners twice annually, including National Day on Dec. 18.

Embassy officials have previously said the action is seen as a sign of goodwill toward Qatar’s large expat population.

Brian Anderson/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

More information about those who are to be released will be sent to embassies in the coming weeks.

In years past, people were usually pardoned for crimes related to theft, drug possession or fraud, among other offenses.



Qatar’s Emir checks out model of Doha Metro train

With only two and a half years to go before the Doha Metro opens to passenger traffic, Qatar’s Emir was briefed this week on the progress that has been made so far.

Yesterday, transport officials brought Sheikh Tamim up to speed on passenger services, the upcoming train designs and safety and security equipment, QNA reports.

He also viewed models of the Doha Metro and Lusail Light Rail Transit system and its various cabins, including first class, family and standard seating.

Qatar Rail

Doha Metro rendering

Additionally, he was updated by Ashghal about its upcoming projects.

Before leaving, he urged officials to “speed up infrastructure projects of various types” and “to enhance the welfare of citizens and meet their needs,” QNA reports.

Coming up

The first phase of the Doha Metro is set to open to passengers at the beginning of 2020.

Tunneling on the public transportation network was completed at a breakneck pace last year, and work is now underway to set up some 37 stations across three lines.

Qatar Rail

Construction at Green Line -Education City stop

On its website, Qatar Rail offers a peek at what’s going on behind the safety hoardings set up at each station.

It looks like work is well underway, including on the Green Line at Education City, the Msheireb Red Line station and the Gold Line’s Al Saad stop.

Qatar Rail

First phase of Doha Metro stops

Tracks have also already been laid at some of the few aboveground metro stations.

Officials said previously said that by the end of this year, the company aims to finish 70 percent of the public transport project. This entails:

  • Completing track installation works;
  • Taking delivery of the first four of its 75 driverless trains in Doha; and
  • Awarding key operator contracts.

When it opens, the metro will also connect to two other separate rail projects.

They are the Lusail light-rail line, which contractors say will be operational by 2020; and a long-distance passenger and freight service linking to the GCC rail, whose timetable remains unknown.