With all eyes on Doha ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Museum of Islamic Art reopened on Tuesday, becoming part of a cultural bonanza in the small oil-rich state during the world tournament.
“We are the biggest Museum of Islamic Art in this region… and we are in the middle of the Arab world,” said museum director Julia Gonnella, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
“Where better can you learn about Islamic culture and art and history than here?”
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The Museum of Islamic Art, an architectural tour de force designed by internationally acclaimed Pritzker Prize-winning architect I M Pei (1917-2019), was the first institution opened by Qatar Museums in 2008.
The five-storey building showcases 14 centuries of Islamic art and artefacts from around the world.
More than 1,000 objects, some of which are newly conserved or acquired, will be displayed for the first time.
A selection of some of the museum’s most significant artefacts, including the ninth-century Blue Qur’an, the Cavour Vase (late 13th century), the Varanasi necklace (around 1609), the late 16th-century Ramayana manuscript for Hamida Banu Begum, and the Franchetti tapestry (around 1575, will go on display.
“Before it was only about the art, now it’s about culture,” Gonnella said. “We really want to tell the stories behind the masterpieces.”
Ever since Qatar was chosen to host the World Cup 2022, the country has been working hard to guarantee accommodation for all those interested in attending the world’s largest soccer tournament.
The international tournament, expected to draw 1.2 million visitors, will take place from 20 November to 18 December 2022.
Many Muslim countries have already qualified to the World Cup, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia, and Morocco.