Doha dazzles design aficionados

The new National Museum of Qatar designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel.
Picture: Iwan Baan
Photo of Stephen Scourfield

With a new national museum, I suggest you dig deeper in Qatar’s capital. 

Smaller and with a more bespoke feeling than Emirates, Qatar Airways is proving popular with WA travellers. Its Hamad International Airport in Doha is easy to navigate.

The flight between Perth and Doha is about 111/2 hours. From Doha to London Heathrow, it’s just over seven.

But, then, what’s the rush.

Why go straight to Europe?


After eight years’ work, the National Museum of Qatar has opened in Doha.

And the building itself is surely one of its greatest displays. Sydney-based design firm Koichi Takada Architects’ interior architecture is as stunning as French architect Jean Nouvel’s exterior.

Inspired by the desert rose mineral formation, it is covered in discs.

Inside, Koichi Takada has picked up the desert scapes theme.

The National Museum of Qatar tells the story of this Middle Eastern nation through 11 galleries following the three chapters of its life — Beginnings, Life in Qatar and the Modern History of Qatar.

There are museum shops, cafes and restaurant.

A spokesperson explains that, even for these, inspiration has been drawn from Qatari locations and artefacts:

“Cafe 875, which overlooks the museum’s main lobby, was inspired by traditional Qatari gold jewellery — particularly the medallion rings.

“The Desert Rose Cafe is, of course, a direct reference to the museum’s exterior architecture. Its sand-coloured palette and collection of desert rose formations pay homage to the Qatari landscape.

“The timber walls of the museum shops take their form from the Dahl Al Misfir (Cave of Light), which is found in the heart of Qatar.”

The museum, spread over 1.5km, is open to all, and has a 220-seat auditorium and rolling program of events.

Both inside and out, there  are many commissioned artworks, including Alfa, an installation of 114 fountain sculptures along the 900m lagoon shore, by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel.

A landscaped park celebrates Qatar’s indigenous plants.

Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz bin Jassim Al Thani, director of the National Museum of Qatar, says:

‘Qatar is an ancient land, rich in the traditions of life in the desert and by the sea. It is also a country whose modern history has been defined by oil, with all the dramatic change that its discovery brought. The museum we have created is not a showcase for a collection. It is a journey — and like any true journey, it does not merely take people from one place to another. It changes the travellers themselves and helps redefine them. I hope that everyone who joins in the journey of the National Museum of Qatar will be moved by the experience. I hope they will come out with a deeper understanding of life in this ancient and modern land, and a greater sense of wonder at all it offers the world.’

Hotel: Stagger the trip

A great hotel that’s “airside”... that’s a sweet combination.

And the Oryx Airport Hotel in Doha is certainly that.

Qatar Airways is popular with WA travellers travelling to Europe, in particular, and breaking the journey without leaving Hamad International Airport is a good option.

The Oryx, inside the passenger terminal at Hamad, is billed as four star but seems better than that. It has superior, deluxe and family rooms and superior and presidential suites, and guests can stay for as little as five hours. 

The Oryx has free wi-fi, a gym, swimming pool, squash and virtual golf. There’s full room service and in-room dining.

A full day might be $444. For information, look here 

By the numbers 

Fact File

Museum opening times:

For more information see here 


You may also like