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How to Qatar: The QM Culture Pass Edition

by Lisa Gay

Qatar Museums (QM) is the organisation behind many of the cultural institutions here in Doha. They are responsible for the Museum of Islamic Art, the Fire Station, and the National Museum of Qatar, as well as a host of smaller venues like the newly opened M7 in Downtown Msheireb and the forthcoming 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum in the Aspire Zone.

Qatar residents enjoy free access to the permanent galleries of these museums and galleries, but you will need to pay admission into temporary exhibitions, workshops, and certain events. However, with QM’s Culture Pass, you can visit these seasonal exhibitions free of charge, depending on your level of membership.

Other highlights of the Culture Pass programme include discounts at their onsite restaurants, cafes, and gift shops; free or discounted access to workshops and speaking events; guided tours of museum and gallery shows; and VIP invitations to exhibition openings, among other perks. While you can’t lend out your membership, it’s easy enough to help friends and family sign up for their own account while they are visiting Qatar.

1) Try before you buy: the Basic membership is free. You can register online with your name and contact details at qm.org.qa/en/culturepass or on QM’s helpful Culture Pass app, which allows you to book tickets and keep informed of upcoming exhibitions and events. Alternatively, you can always sign up at onsite ticketing counters, where you can get a physical card (Covid permitting).
The benefits of the Basic membership include a ten per cent discount at their restaurants, cafes, and gift shops (both at the physical stores and online). Culture Pass members are also entitled to one free tour and one free workshop per year.

2) Just for educators: teachers can access a more tailored version of the free membership. In addition to the discounts listed above, educators get special invites to QM’s “teacher council”, which involves workshops that outline how they can use museum amenities and exhibitions to further their classroom goals. There’s also a monthly Culture Pass newsletter specifically for teachers to notify them of upcoming events and activities that may be of interest to those in the field.

3) The student edition: aimed at teenagers and young adults between the ages of 16–25, this free, student-centred version of the Culture Pass helps young creatives connect with the museum community. The membership comes with a monthly newsletter that informs students of upcoming workshops and events held by both QM and the Doha Film Institute (DFI), as well as all the discounts described in the Basic plan.

4) The premium membership: Culture Pass Plus costs QR 200 annually, and it allows free, unlimited access to QM museums and galleries, even temporary exhibitions, as well as to workshops, talks, exhibition openings, and guided tours. Holders are also entitled to a 25% discount at gift shops and onsite fine dining establishments Jiwan and Idam, and a 15% discount at Café #999, MIA Café, other onsite cafes, and the MIA Park food trucks. Other perks include a ten per cent discount on selected community courses at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and DFI events. A monthly Culture Pass newsletter will inform you of all upcoming events—spots typically go fast, but paid memberships will get a priority when booking.

5) The family pass: the family version of the Culture Pass is QR 350 per year, which includes two adults and four children under 16 years of age (additional children can be added at QR 50 each). While the family pass is the most expensive option, it can be quite a savings if you take full advantage of QM’s calendar of exhibitions, workshops, and events. Their newsletter will keep you up-to-date on when these are happening, or you can download and periodically check the Culture Pass app.
Benefits include free admission to all QM museums and galleries for those listed on the pass and unlimited, free access to their slate of guided tours, talks, and workshops, including children’s art classes. Holders are entitled to the same dining discounts as the Culture Pass Plus (see above), and it’s worth noting that this deal extends to the children’s gift shop at the National Museum of Qatar. The same ten per cent discount also applies to VCU community courses (including art classes for children and teens) and DFI workshops and film screenings.

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