Let me tell you about the three main museums in Qatar that all tourists must visit, or at least one of them. I will provide information on how to get there, opening hours, ticket prices, and offer advice on visiting and how much time to plan for each. Since the museums in Qatar can be expensive and most tourists transit through Doha, time is limited, and I can help with choosing the right museum.
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Museums in Qatar: general information
Qatar Museums can make up a long list of interesting places for a tourist. Personally, I have never been a fan of museums and considered spending time in them in a new city to be irrational. The situation is the same in Doha, where there are many mega-cool attractions besides museums. But when you have already seen everything, that’s when the museum is an excellent way to spend your time.
What you need to know about Qatar Museums:
- All the main museums in the country, which I will talk about, are very large. Plan to spend about 4 hours on each visit. Even then, you might not have time to see everything.
- All museums in Doha are mega-modern buildings.
- Always check the opening hours when planning your visit. On Fridays, museums open after lunch since Friday is a day off in Qatar. During the month of Ramadan, the opening hours change completely, and the FBQ Museum is closed for the entire month.
- Tickets can be purchased on-site or on the website of each museum (links will be provided below). I must say that the prices are not low, but the size of the museums is comparable to the Hermitage or the Louvre.
Museum of Islamic Art in Doha (MIA)
The name speaks for itself. The museum exhibits various items related to Islam and the history of Qatar. A new building was built for this museum on the Corniche in the MIA Park, and it is visible from almost any point in the bay.
- Coordinates: 25.2954842783188, 51.53947212583622
- Metro Station: Souq Waqif (Yellow line). It’s about 1 km away.
- Official website: https://mia.org.qa/en/visit/
- Ticket price: 100 QAR (~30 USD). Free for children under 16.
- Opening hours: Daily from 9 am to 7 pm, Fridays from 1:30 pm.
- Opening hours during Ramadan: From 10 am to 2 pm and from 8 pm to 12 midnight. It’s better to check the website for updated information.
At the Museum of Islamic Art, the majority of exhibits are related to Islam and it is considered the largest collection of Islamic artifacts in the world. The focus is on clothing, carpets, manuscripts, ceramics, and a small collection of weaponry.
The author’s rating:6 out of 10. I consider it the most boring museum of the top three, with the exhibitions of the other two being much more interesting. However, the Museum of Islamic Art has a big advantage in its location. It is recommended to plan some extra time to explore the MIA park. Here, there is an excellent promenade with a stunning view of Doha, and even a unique installation by sculptor Richard Serra called “7.”
The Qatar National Museum in Doha
The Qatar National Museum in Doha is the country’s main museum and is enjoyable for everyone, including children. This modern museum opened in a new building in 2019.
Interesting fact:Qatar is 90% desert. In the Qatar desert, you can find natural formations made of sand crystals called “desert roses.” The architect who designed the Qatar National Museum tried to create a building in the style of a desert rose.
- Coordinates of the museum: 25.28818487746519, 51.5494132495466
- Metro station: National Museum (Red Line).
- Official website: https://nmoq.org.qa/en/
- Ticket price: 100 QAR (~30 USD), free for children under 16 years old.
- Opening hours: daily from 9am to 7pm, with a late opening until 9pm on Fridays.
- Ramadan opening hours: from 10am to 2pm and from 8pm to midnight. It’s best to check the website for updated information.
The exhibitions at the National Museum of Qatar tell the story of Qatar from ancient times to the present day, including how pearl diving and oil discovery shaped the country’s history. There is a vast array of exhibits and interesting artifacts, including tools dating back 3000 years and rare cars from the 20th century.
Author’s rating:9 out of 10. This is a mega-modern and interactive museum that tells the entire history of the country, which is almost 4,000 years old. The National Museum of Qatar is not just dull exhibitions with ancient stones and sticks. You have to see it for yourself to understand how splendidly the Qataris managed to create it. Plan for about 4 hours as the museum is just huge. The National Museum of Qatar is a must-visit.
- The history of Qatar is presented in simple and accessible language, explaining how such a wealthy country emerged.
The Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum (FBQ Museum)
If the previous two museums were state-owned, the FBQ museum is private. It was built with the money of Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim from the Al Thani family. For those who don’t know, Al Thani is the ruling dynasty of Qatar, which has been ruling the country since its inception.
Interesting to know:Tourists often confuse and think that this is the Qatar Emir’s Museum. For such a mistake, you might lose your hand (joking), never confuse Sheikh with Emir. In the article, “Rulers of Qatar,” you will learn the differences between Emir and Sheikh, as well as all about the Al Thani family. And Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim is just a distant relative of today’s Emir of Qatar.
General information about the FBQ Museum:
- Coordinates: 25.350677263444407, 51.26313483812575
- It is located 20km from Doha. Public transport does not go here. You can only get there by car: either by renting or by taxi. Taxis in Qatar are cheap; the ride from the center of Doha to the museum will cost around $15. Learn everything about taxis in Doha, how to book it, how to check the price in advance.
- Official website: https://www.alsamriyaestate.com/museum
- Ticket price: 70 QAR (~$20)
- Working hours: daily from 9 am to 6 pm, but always check the website in advance. During the month of Ramadan, they don’t work at all.
Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim is very rich and famous for his passion for collecting. In his lifetime (and he is still alive), he has amassed a vast collection of automobiles, ships, even airplanes, rare weapons, coins, furniture, bicycles, and much more that cannot all be listed here.
He specially built this enormous museum to house his collections and simultaneously share them with people. All of the exhibits are simply astounding. We came here four hours before closing and managed to make it through just over half of it. We were practically running through the last few halls.
Rating:10 out of 10. This museum astonished us with its collections even more than the National Museum of Qatar. Its only downside is that it’s located outside the city. If you’re renting a car to see the sights of Qatar outside of Doha, then set aside half a day for the FBQ Museum – you won’t regret it. Of course, taxis are always an option – it’s only a half-hour drive from downtown Doha.
If you’re transiting through Doha, I recommend reading the article: “Transit through Qatar” – you’ll learn a lot of useful information. There will be information for those who have a one-hour layover, as well as for those who have two days.
By the way, here’s a good option if you don’t have a car: follow the link – a half-day excursion to the FBQ museum, and you can also ride camels.
In conclusion: these are not all of Qatar’s museums; there’s also the Museum of Modern Art and the Arab Museum. However, these three are considered the best in Qatar. In my personal opinion, the FBQ Museum and the National Museum of Qatar are simply must-see attractions. At least one of them should be visited by everyone. Since visiting all three museums requires at least a day and a half, not every tourist has that much time.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Qatar
- Flights at the best prices with discounts
- Car rental: DiscoverCars (cheaper – only by bus)
- Hotels and apartments in Doha: Hotellook – allows you to find hotels and compare prices when booking around the world.
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card in Qatar