If you go down to the Qatar National Museum, you might be in for a silvery surprise!
Okay, most of it is unsurprising. A dozy security guard on the gate blinking an eye at us as we went in, a single other visitor (one more than we expected) to chat too, lazy fans in the rooms slowly turning the stuffy air. The museum itself is set in a restored white washed presidential palace, and looks rather like one of those forts you see in old movies of the Arabian desert.What can you see?
he view from the walls is superb although some of the rooms are empty. Photographs show the startling growth of Doha from not much more than a village, and the rather gruesome process of fire cupping: the Qatar version of medieval bloodletting. There’s a traditional bedouin tent (complete with T.V. – I wonder where the security guard gets to in his spare time), stamps, stone age flints from prehistoric Qatari settlements, medals and old currency – which included the old Indian rupee. Natural history rooms demonstrate the natural life of Qatar on land and in sea.Abandoned Aquarium
This is when the trip got surreal. Going out the back of the museum we found an abandoned salt water lake/pond (when does a pond become a lake?) called “The Lagoon”. Peering over into the murky waters, we expected to see nothing. We did see a few little fish. Followed by a few big brown ones (Sherri?). Then a small shoal of gigantic silver fish – maybe five foot in length – shot past us, leaving us blinking in disbelief. I have no idea whether these are left over from some time when the aquarium was actually up and running, or whether these giant fish come in from some underground opening to the sea.
Proceeding into the nearby building, we found wallpaper peeling off the walls, and skulls and stuffed sea creatures spilling lining lying abandoned on the floor next to paint pots and brushes. In the spirit of adventure we descended into a dark cellar, only to find ourselves up to our knees in salt water.Worth a visit
Despite the empty rooms and the abandoned “lagoon”, the attractions are worth a visit. Defeated by the heat, we certainly did not get to see everything that was on offer.Coming changes
The Museum is in line for a make-over, and being Doha I’m sure that whatever they do will be high tech and impressive. At the moment it is a little dilapidated and neglected but it has its own charm and interest. And you may get it all to yourself, just as we did.When to go:
Don’t make our mistake and go in the middle of the day. If you’re in the summer months aim for early morning or evening, like everyone sensible does.Entry fee:
I found out after that it’s supposed to be 5 Riyals, but no-one ever asked for any money, even though we said hello and goodbye to the security guard.One more surprise
According to Marhaba (a local guide book) the Museum is undergoing major refurbishment and is not open until December 2006! Maybe they were just being nice letting us in. Or maybe we were never there at all and it was all just a dream...
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