There are two buildings that attract the attention of first-time visitors to Doha. Just a few minutes after leaving the international airport in the direction of the city center, the newcomer first comes across the more than unique 974, a brand-new removable stadium for the 2022 World Cup built with containers, which a few moments later, one bus stop away, meter away, the impressive National Museum of Qatar stands out in the eye.
The journalistic days in a World Cup are as exciting as they are exhausting. There's barely room for anything other than stringing letters around a ball, either in the oversized media center or in one of the stadiums. But when a gap opens up, a most infrequent circumstance, you have to take advantage of it and a morning walk through the museum is a highly recommended option.
The building itself is already impressive. The sensation is to see several intertwined UFOs forming an unclassifiable geometric figure. The architect, Jean Nouvel, signatory among many other works of the Torre Agbar in Barcelona and the expansion of the Reina Sofía in Madrid, was based on the desert rose, the sandy crystal formation in the shape of a flower that one finds, or so they say , in the Qatari desert. Because in Doha, from there we do not leave, the sand has been replaced by cement. So we believe them.
The entrance to the museum is a mystery, you don't know what you will find. Naivety invites us to think that Qatari money, seemingly endless, will have bought great works of art. Perhaps you will be able to enjoy a Rembrandt or, being a little more modest – a word that should not have a translation in Qatari – a naval battle painted by Vernet. But the beginning of the excursion, marked of course by all the flows of people, it is already known that in Qatar the tourist is a sheep and you have to break records of steps on your mobile, it already suggests that the works of art in this museum will be the impressive visual and sound montages that one finds along the route.
The first exhibition is not so powerful in this sense but it is one of the most remarkable. Based on films and comics, including of course the Lawrence of Arabia poster, the museum tries to combat the stereotypes of nomadic peoples, the first inhabitants of Qatar. Sand and water are the common thread, both visual and sound, in impressive rooms that hypnotize anyone. Perhaps the most interesting moment comes when one learns about the history of Qatar with little writings and a video so well shot that it takes a few minutes to realize that it is a film. Hollywood should open headquarters in Doha immediately. The battles with Bahrain are explained, for example, and the rise to the throne of the Al-Thani family in the 19th century, a surname that still governs the country today.
Before the farewell, a very direct message from the Emir cannot be missing through his various speeches at the United Nations, citing values such as the fight against inequality or diversity. There is no suggestion box. Welcome to Qatar.