Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum

We had a chance today, Saturday, to go on a ramble with the Qatar Natural History group to the Sheikh Faisal Museum. It was truly quite an experience. The museums houses antique rugs, weapons, cars, manuscripts, coins…and it’s all a private collection. His goal in the collecting was to pass on cultural heritage to future generations of Qataris. He has also enriched the foreigner’s understanding of the history of Qatar and this region.
Qatar itself has very few archaeological sites so the museum encompasses items from all over the Middle East representing Qatari and Islamic history. The collection includes things from Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and other countries in this region. The building that houses the museum is huge with rooms interspersed between large, and sunny, courtyards.
Now…getting there was an adventure and a half…and I wasn’t too thrilled about parts of it…you’ll see why.
The initial trip out wasn’t bad..normal Doha traffic (lots of it), people cutting in (many, many), tons of roundabouts (self-explanatory) but a great navigator (organic, Jeff) along with the navi (Japanese for GPS).
Everything actually went quite smoothly until we got close to the place…navi said to enter the roundabout, take the 4th exit and go back the way you came for a right hand turn. Fine, we had been told we’d have to do it. What no one realized was that the road had changed…it was now a freeway! The place where the roundabout used to be was now just PAST the freeway exit. Hmmm….we thought we might find a left turn/roundabout something, and we did…15 km further up the road. Fine, took it.
OK…but now we weren’t quite certain WHERE the museum was….we started off getting back on the freeway but partway down the ramp decided that we might do better on the frontage road. Remember when I said people just drive over the sidewalk??? Well….we did (yes, I was driving and not real happy). Traveled down the road…took some turns…oops….dead end. It just stopped….at a dirt pile. Jeff, with his eagle eyes, realized that there was a faint path in the dirt and sand…you guessed it…leading to the freeway!!! We made our own freeway entrance (yes, I’m still driving). Traveled back down the freeway, still looking for the place, finally pass something that might be it (the navi seemed to think so anyway) so…another unauthorized freeway exit. (Jeff is now driving – unauthorized exits and entrances don’t seem to bother him.) Well, it wasn’t – it was a work camp of some sort. Back to the freeway yet again (this time it was a real onramp – short, but official). Finally, on our right, a small white sign, impossible to read from more than 3 meters, was the ONLY sign for the museum. Whew….we had made it!

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