The other day I participated in a photowalk hosted by the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum. The Sheikh Faisal Museum is one of my favorite places to visit in Qatar. It is outside of Doha, just past the Mall of Qatar. I have gone there several times and brought multiple people there in the three years that I have been living in Qatar.
What is the appeal of this place to me?
Sheikh Faisal was a collector of many things, and the museum is a warehouse to his disparate interests. There are ancient weapons from the region, sets of Arabic furniture, handwoven carpets on the floor in every room, a traditional Syrian house imported from Damascus, fossils from various eras of the Earth, full scale sailing vessels, religious artifacts, Saddam Hussein memorabilia, and of course cars—hundreds of them. If you have visited and enjoyed House on the Rocks or a flea market in a football stadium, then you understand the allure of a massive oddball assortment of objects on display.
The photowalk was not, however, through the museum; rather, we walked around the sprawling grounds of compound. And, this is what most excited me, for while I have been to the museum many times, I have not been able to explore the area surrounding it. So, the opportunity to spend the morning ambling around the compound, snapping off shots was one I couldn’t pass up.
During the photowalk, our guide took us by many sites of interest on the land. Much of it is being used for agricultural purposes, but there is an oryx enclosure, a horse stable with a riding school, forested area where peacocks run wild, and an expansion to the museum where 600 of the Sheikh’s cars (currently in storage) will be displayed.
Part of the morning was slightly overcast, sprinkling us with a few raindrops, but then the sun came out and raised the temperature slightly. Still, walking through the shaded forested area kept us from becoming uncomfortable. The weather was as pleasant for strolling and conducive for taking photos as one could hope for. As I devote another three years living and working in Doha, I hope to participate in more of these quiet opportunities—spending the morning walking, observing, and experiencing a niche part of the country.
If you come to visit me in Qatar—and we have some time—chances are I’ll take you to visit the Sheikh Faisal Museum. It’s my instrument for judging people: Do you get it or not?