The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) is a symbol of Qatar. You’re probably already familiar with the shape of this building if you’ve ever seen articles encouraging you to visit the capital of Qatar – Doha. No wonder – the architecture of this building, combining elements of ancient Islamic architecture and modern geometric design, reflects quite successfully the spirit of the place.
Like many sights in Doha, the Museum of Islamic Art is a fairly modern construction. Well, the Doha museum only opened its doors to the public in December 2008. If we didn’t know this, we would probably think that the MIA stands on the Corniche coast for at least a few decades more. Although the museum itself looks new and well-maintained, the traditional Islamic elements may be masking the true age of the monument.
The architect of the Museum of Islamic Art was hired for this project when he was already retired. In a matter of fact, I.M. Pei was 91 years old at the time. After undertaking the design of this structure, he started traveling for 6 months in the Arab countries. During this time he delved into Islamic history and texts in search of inspiration for his work. As a result, the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo, which dates back to the 9th century, was the biggest influence on the final architecture of the MIA.
The Museum of Islamic Art is located on an artificial island close to Qatar’s traditional ‘dhow’ port. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to visit the museum itself during our stay in Doha, but we did get to admire its architecture from the waterfront at different times of the day and night.
About the photo
“Most photos you find are taken towards the entrance. But I found this side-view particularly appealing.
Here, you can find a perfect symmetry that will remain hidden from most visitors, as you can only view it from the water – or like me, by climbing behind the port wall.”