Welcome to Doha!

I am so lucky to be staying with a family while I am here in Doha. They are from Lebanon and have been living here in Qatar for 12 years, and they have helped me in many ways over the past few days. I now know how to dress here (with my shoulders and knees covered, but not my hair, ankles, or elbows) and how to get around (Uber is everywhere). They’ve also helped me with project contacts, which is incredible because it always helps to have an intro – especially because the universities and research institutes here seem to have more security controls than in Sweden.

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The view from my room. I’m staying in a villa in a compound.

I won’t be walking much here. Doha is definitely not a pedestrian city. A lot of people live in compounds in completely residential areas and drive everywhere – to work, to restaurants, and to malls. Also, even in October, Doha is still quite hot! I’ll be seeing highs in the 90s for the whole time that I’m here. It’s suffocating to walk outside for more than 10 minutes, so methods of transportation are mostly reduced to air-conditioned cars. It’s a dusty, dry heat, and luckily not too humid. The dust turns the sky a cool color: a hazy orange-blue during the days and a light purple during the nights.

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Inside the “quiet” mall.

On my first full day with the family, we went to one of Doha’s many malls. We went to a mall that is considered quiet and old compared to the new, enormous, glitzy malls (which I haven’t been to  yet). I’m always intrigued by malls, though – even small ones – as I grew up in Manhattan where there are stores everywhere but no malls. This mall in Doha had a Zara, a Starbucks, a grocery store, a cinema, a mini arcade and amusement park for kids, and a bunch of other clothing, makeup, and jewelry stores. All in one mall!

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The grocery store had an impressive array of cereals, most of them American.

Globalization truly reaches everywhere. I saw short shorts in H&M even though no women bare their knees outside – but clearly there’s a market for them.

The day after visiting the mall, I took an Uber towards the Corniche, the waterfront road that runs alongside Doha’s bay. I went there to see the Museum of Islamic Art, a museum designed by famous architect I. M. Pei and probably Doha’s number-one attraction.

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Walking up to the Museum of Islamic Art.
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Continuing up to the museum; on the left, you can see traditional Islamic architecture in the pathway to the museum’s library.
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The upper floors inside the museum.

The museum is absolutely stunning inside and out. The architecture is beautiful, feeling classic and modern at the same time. The museum is well laid-out, with a non-overwhelming number of pieces each given their own space and categorized by theme or by area.

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An Indian dagger and scabbard.
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I really loved this 13th century map of the world, which was part of an exhibit on science in art.
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Also part of the science in art exhibit: I couldn’t get enough of these beautiful astrolabes, many of which were engraved in Arabic.
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Another view of the museum interior.

The museum had a fun temporary exhibit on boxer Muhammed Ali, who came to visit Qatar once in the 1970s and once in the 1990s. There was also a lovely patio area outside with views of the Doha skyscrapers across the bay.

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On the Museum of Islamic Art patio. There was also an amazing fountain right in front of the museum’s entrance.
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Old-fashioned boats line the Corniche (I declined an offer to take a boat ride), and they are illuminated by strings of neon lights at night.
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The edge of MIA park, the Museum’s surrounding park area.
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Doha’s West Bay (the area where the skyscrapers are).
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One last view of the museum exterior, shot from the Corniche. I love how green the water is.
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