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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.”


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.