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Cool and Cultured: Museums in Qatar

by Katherine Latto, Gillian Gibson, Rachel Henriquez

When the summer heat hits, these museums and cultural centres around Qatar are sure to keep your kids cool, engaged and learning


Museum of Islamic Art

Designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, the Museum of Islamic Art building is a marvel on its own. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the atrium provide a remarkable view of Doha’s skyline. Meanwhile, children will love scaling the marble staircase that spirals to the top floor and watching the fountains outside the entrance, in the atrium café and on the outdoor terrace. The museum collection provides a unique and comprehensive glimpse into Islamic art throughout the centuries.

Location: The Corniche, near Souq Waqif

Contact: 4422-4444, mia.org.qa

Hours: Saturday to Thursday 09:00–19:00, Friday 13:30–19:00

Cost: Free for Qataris and residents, QR 50 adults, QR 25 students, children 16 and under are free


Located in Education City, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art is worth a visit if you like contemporary and abstract art. The exhibitions showcase art created in Qatar and the Middle East, and by Arab artists. Often, challenging political and cultural themes are explored through the artwork on display, which will be more of interest to older children and teens.

Location: Education City, Qatar Foundation

Contact: 4402-8855, 4402-8830, mathaf.org.qa

Hours: Saturday to Thursday 09:00–19:00, Friday 13:30–19:00

Cost: Free for Qataris and residents, QR 50 adults, QR 25 students, children 16 and under are free

Fire Station

If you are looking for somewhere to visit for a quick hit of culture, check out the Fire Station. The exhibits change throughout the year, but past exhibitions have included Russian Avant-Garde, Ai Weiwei and Picasso and Giacometti. Little ones will also love looking at the fire helmets, hoses and tools in the foyer. There is also a fun water fountain in the main courtyard for children to run through, perfect for cooling off on a hot day. The gallery hosts regular workshops and activities for children and adults. Visit their website for details.

Location: Mohammed Bin Thani Street, Civil Defence Roundabout

Contact: 4422-4222, firestation.org.qa

Hours: Saturday to Thursday 09:00–19:00, Friday 13:30–19:00

Cost: Free

Galleries and exhibition halls

Qatar also has a number of galleries that have permanent exhibitions and organise periodic shows. Keep an eye on their websites and social media pages for upcoming events and workshops.

Al Riwaq: facebook.com/alriwaq

Katara Art Center: dohakac.com

Qatar Art Center: instagram.com/qatarartcenter

Souq Waqif Art Center: facebook.com/souqwaqifartcenter​


Al Fanar Islamic Cultural Centre

The distinctive and striking spiral tower of the Al Fanar Islamic Cultural Centre, or the Sheikh Abdulla bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Centre as it is also known, is probably one of the most photographed of Doha’s many landmarks. Inside, the centre offers a range of initiatives designed to help people better understand Qatari culture, the Arabic language and the religion of Islam. Visitors can see inside a mosque, listen to an Islamic sermon in English on Fridays, enjoy traditional Arabic coffee in a majlis, and, most importantly, ask questions about Qatari lifestyle, culture, heritage and faith.

The Centre houses a mosque, with prayer rooms for men and women, a library (with free Islamic literature), and an exhibition space showcasing Islamic art, architecture, history, the environment and more.

Location: Abdullah bin Jassim Street (adjacent to Souq Waqif)

Contact: 4444-7444, binzaid.gov.qa

Hours: 07:30–22:00, tours run on Thursday to Saturday from 08:00–13:00 and 17:00–20:00, Friday sermons start at 11:30, women-only coffee mornings are held on Wednesdays

Cost: Free. Tours, workshops, courses and visits can be booked online

The Grand State Mosque

Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab Mosque, or The Grand State Mosque, is a huge sandstone edifice overlooking West Bay from the north-west. Indeed, it is the largest mosque in Qatar with the capacity to accommodate more than 30,000 worshippers within its grounds during prayers. The mosque houses numerous, and separate, praying areas for men and women, three libraries (one with text in a multitude of languages), a large outdoor courtyard in the centre of the building, a Quran reading area and a lone minaret towering above.

Non-Muslim visitors are welcomed at the mosque outside of prayer times. For its grandeur alone, this mosque is worth a visit, regardless of faith. However, there is more to see than just a gargantuan-sized building. The tours are an excellent way to learn more about Islam, and understand its role in Qatari society.

Location: Al Mohandiseen Street, Al Jebailat, adjacent to Qatar Sports Club

Contact: 4425-0250

Hours: Tours last one hour and can be organised via the Al Fanar Facebook page (facebook.com/abdullabinzaidalmahmoud) or by calling Al Fanar on 4444-7444/4470-1098

Cost: Free. Women are provided with abayas and head scarfs to wear during the tours


National Museum of Qatar

A breathtakingly immersive museum experience, the new National Museum is a can’t miss for all ages. Check out our full review here.

Location: Museum Park Street, adjacent to Salata Park and directly overlooking the Corniche; between the old airport and the Museum of Islamic Art

Contact: 4452-5555, nmoq.org.qa

Hours: Saturday to Thursday 09:00–19:00, Friday 13:30–19:00. Last admission to the museum is 30 minutes before closing

Cost: Tickets are free of charge for Qatari nationals and residents presenting valid Qatar ID. General admission for non-Qataris and non-residents is QR 50 for adults, QR 25 for students, free for children under 16. Tickets are valid for three days from the date of the first admission

Msheireb Enrichment Centre

Docked alongside the Corniche near the Sheraton Hotel, the Msheireb Enrichment Centre is an education centre innovatively housed on a decommissioned barge. The centre showcases Qatar’s history and its way of life, depicting cultural and industrial changes over the last 60 years since the discovery of oil. There is also an overview of the ambitious development plans the country has to secure its future. The exhibitions house a variety of historic artefacts, photographs of Qatar then and now, and scale models of future downtown projects and developments. They are interspersed with interactive displays intended to keep visitors engaged and bring the exhibits to life. Kids will certainly enjoy discovering artefacts hidden in drawers, pressing buttons that light up models of the city, and using touchscreens to discover how downtown Msheireb was designed.

Location: The Corniche, adjacent to The Sheraton Hotel

Contact: 4404-0222, msheireb.com

Hours: Sunday to Thursday 09:00–17:00, Saturday 10:00–17:00, closed on Friday

Cost: Free. Tours can be arranged via the website

Msheireb Museums

Msheireb Museums consists of four historic houses that have been restored and developed into museums. Radwani House displays a majlis, a bedroom and a kitchen where you can see traditional furniture. It’s a fascinating glimpse into how a typical Qatari family lived in the 1920s. Company House is the former headquarters of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. This museum is devoted to the history of the petroleum industry in Qatar. The Mohammed Bin Jassim House showcases the future development of the Msheireb downtown area while taking stock of the interesting history of this district, which was home to Qatar’s first hotel, bank, pharmacy and cafés. The final museum, Bin Jelmood House, is devoted to the history of slavery in Qatar. It encourages discussion of historical slavery in Qatar and contemporary slavery around the world.

Location: On the corner of Jassim bin Mohammed Street and Al Rayyan Road, parking is available inside the heritage quarter

Contact: 800-DOHA or 4006-5555, msheireb.com/museums

Hours: Monday to Thursday 09:00–17:00, Friday 15:00–21:00, Saturday 09:00–17:00, closed on Sunday

Cost: Free

Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum

Away from the hustle and bustle of central Doha, and down Dukhan Highway towards the camel racetrack, you’ll find the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum. It is located in the grand Qatari fort at Al Samriya Farm. This privately owned museum is essentially an eclectic collection of items owned by Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani. You’ll find over 15,000 artefacts ranging from Islamic art and Qatar heritage items to vehicles and coins and currency. With genuine dhow boats, pearl diving equipment, guns, swords, vintage cars, crystals and dinosaur bones, there is something for virtually everyone.

Location: Al Samriya, 22 km west of Doha

Contact: 4486-1444, fbqmuseum.org

Hours: Sunday 09:00–16:00, Monday to Thursday 09:00–16:30, Friday 14:00–19:00, Saturday 10:00–18:00

Cost: Free for Qataris and residents, QR 45 adults, QR 20 children ages 6–17, children under six are free


Kahramaa Awareness Park

Rising like an otherworldly construction on the edge of Al Thumama, the Kahramaa Awareness Park building is a sight to behold. Its futuristic design captures the imagination and draws visitors into an immersive and interactive world. Visitors embark on an educational journey about energy and water; how those resources are exploited, and how we can use technology and alternative energy to conserve resources for the future. The park has heaps of stimulating, high-tech exhibits and activities to interact with, including an immersive 3D experience, a railcar journey and hair-raising electrical experiments.

Location: Najma Street, Al Thumama

Contact: 4462-8901, kap.qa

Hours: Saturday 17:00–20:00, tours must be booked online in advance

Cost: Free

Al Thuraya Planetarium

Astronomy fans will love the newly opened planetarium at Katara. This full-dome auditorium provides seating for 200 people, including special seating for disabled people and seniors. The 22-metre screen showcases 2D and 3D presentations in Arabic and English covering astronomy, atmosphere, geology and the oceans.

Location: Beach 06, Katara

Contact: 4408-2067, katara.net

Hours: Daily 08:00–20:00

Cost: Free

The Media Majlis

Exploring journalism, communication and media through interactive exhibitions, the Media Majlis offers visitors a chance to examine global, regional and local stories from multiple angles. More than a collection of film and media, the gallery-sized museum is an engaging space that encourages visitors to participate in creating content and messages. Because the exhibitions change each semester to coincide with lessons at Northwestern, the museum will close over the summer months and reopen at the start of the school year. The current exhibition, Arab Identities, Images in Film, will run until 1 June.

Location: Northwestern University in Qatar, Education City

Contact: mediamajlis.northwestern.edu

Hours: Sunday to Thursday 12:30–17:00, Saturday 10:00–17:00, closed on Friday

Cost: Free


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