THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCESM
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES

Must-sees from Qatar Museums: Imperial fashion collections and Qatar-Morocco 2024 Year of Culture

The diminutive state of Qatar is fostering the region’s leading cultural and creative scene, with the debut Doha Biennale and a roster of wonderful new exhibitions across the city championing Islamic art and heritage

Isabella Sullivan

29 April 2024

doha culture calendar

The emblems of a great empire, intricate Moroccan jewellery and pieces 20 years in the making are just some of the fabulous new exhibitions visitors can see this season in Doha, arguably the culture and art capital of the Middle East thanks to the tireless work from Qatar Museums and other organisations. Qatar’s rise from a pearling nation to a global art and design capital has been meteoric. Now one of the most dynamic destinations in the Middle East and the world, Qatar not only showcases the world’s brightest stars and most fascinating figures, but is fostering a new generation of talent and keeping Islamic heritage alive.

This thriving creative scene comes directly from the top – cultivated by its art and design- loving royal family, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned and her daughter, Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums and passionate arts lover and advocate. With a rumoured art budget of USD1 billion, Qatar is a key player on the world stage, and this year, Doha debuted the first-ever Design Doha Biennale festival – welcoming over 100 designers from the MENA region.

Art, culture and design intertwine with daily life in Doha, in its museums and exhibitions, but also in its airports and hospitals, where the likes of Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and KAWS are proudly on display. The capital’s prestigious Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts trains artists, while projects like M7 incubate and showcase both local Qatari and international talents. The state has a thriving arts and cultural calendar, primarily centred around its key monuments – the National Museum of Qatar, Jean Nouvel’s Desert Rose-inspired masterpiece, and Museum of Islamic Art, designed by IM Pei and on its own waterfront island, but also contemporary spaces like Firestation Gallery – housed in a disused fire station – and M7 – a holistic epicentre for Doha’s fashion, design and tech industries.

fashioning an empire: doha museums
Fashioning an Empire: Textiles from Safavid Iran

The year that has seen the launch of the highly anticipated Doha Design Biennale could be Doha’s best cultural moment yet, and, more than ever, its roster of world-class museums and worth travelling for. Taking place in the Museum of Islamic Art until 22nd June, ‘Fashioning an Empire: Textiles from Safavid Iran’ transports viewers to the power of the Safavid Empire (1501-1736, highlighting the significance of silk in the vibrant social, economic and artistic life of this period in modern-day Iran.

The exhibition is the result of a collaboration with the Freer Gallery of Art for the Qatar- USA 2021 Year of Culture and was first conceived by and presented at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, Washington, DC. Viewers can gaze upon textiles that evoke a sense of a bygone era of power and opulence – the most desirable luxury commodities traded – with four full-length portraits giving a glimpse into the diverse population and opulence characterised by the Safavid imperial capital of Isfahan. Other key pieces include a selection of specially commissioned pieces, garments and handbags created by Qatar-based designers inspired by Safavid textiles and paintings from MIA’s permanent collection. A podcast further illuminates the exhibition – shedding further light on the fashion of Safavid Iran and its elegance through tales of textiles, this magnificent golden age, and its continued impact on today’s creative practices

Pipilotti Rist exhibition ‘Electric Idyll’ at the Fire Station, Garage Gallery, also running until 1st June
Pipilotti Rist exhibition ‘Electric Idyll’ at the Fire Station, Garage Gallery, also running until 1st June

Also, in the Museum of Islamic Art, ‘Golden Spider Silk’ brings spider silk creators Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley’s textiles to the city until 6th July. After over twenty years of experimentation with the material, the two first embarked on their grand project in 2004, producing and creating textiles made with spider silk. For the first time, the exhibition showcases all four finished textiles together, alongside historical manuscripts and folios documenting the process. This includes a magnificently embroidered cape, brocaded weave lamba (lamba akotifahana), sheer taffeta, and a satin weave shawl. These textiles are the only examples of golden spider silk in the world, and this is the first time they will be displayed in the Middle East. The exhibition will also feature a 15-minute video of Simon Peers discussing the history of golden spider silk.

The season, the MIA has transformed into a treasure trove, beyond its usual prestigious arsenal of 1,100 collections. Elsewhere, the Qatar-Morocco 2024 Year of Culture was officially integrated at the MIA with the opening of the Berber Jewelry Collection from the Royal Palace exhibition. The beguiling exhibit features more than 200 historical and culturally significant pieces from Morocco’s Oudayas, National Museum of Adornment in Rabat, representing the diverse regions of Morocco, from the Atlas Mountains to the southern provinces.

The first showcase outside of the Kingdom, the must-visit exhibition pays homage to the artisans who meticulously crafted these treasures and honours, in particular, the women who have safeguarded these traditions. Visitors can see demonstrated artistry in wirework, inlaying, and the use of coral, amber, glass, beads and coins. More than 80 events including exhibitions, exchanges, and other programs, are planned throughout the year in both Morocco and Qatar as part of the pioneering programme, with the exhibition running until 20th May 2024.

qm.org.qa

This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Near+Far

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