With new cultural attractions opening up and the 2022 World Cup on the way, Qatar is on a mission to grow tourism.
In a desert city reaching for the stars, with its fast-growing collection of skyscrapers, Doha’s new $434 million National Museum of Qatar is out of this world, in every sense.
Its dramatic exterior resembles a jumble of interlocking flying saucers but was actually inspired by the Arabian desert, and designed by award-winning French architect Jean Nouvel, the man also behind the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
However, it’s the interior of this space-age building where things really take off. Opened in March, the museum throws away the rulebook and wows visitors with a journey through the history, people, culture, flora and fauna of Qatar, told via a range of interactive exhibits and immersive video displays.
Everything is askew inside – ceilings soar at angles, walls tilt and jut, and even some floors are inclined.
Among the eye-catching exhibits is the 19th-century Pearl Carpet of Baroda, commissioned by an Indian maharajah and embroidered with 1.5 million Gulf pearls as well as diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
The museum is the embodiment of long-time business destination Qatar’s ambition to grow tourism, with culture one of six focus areas in its five-year tourism development plan.
Other areas include beach and coast tourism, and cruise tourism, with 16 cruise ships using Doha as a turnaround base for the 2019/20 season.