Thanks to Covid, international travel is not an option at the moment, so when an international exhibition comes to town its a matter of great excitement. “Splendours of the Ancient East: Antiquities from the Al-Sabah collection” opened at the National Museum of Qatar in October and runs till the end of the year. If you live in Doha and have even a passing interest in antiquities, ancient history, art or design I encourage you to plan a visit!
The Al-Sabah collection began as the personal hobby of Kuwaiti Sheikh Nasser Sabah al Ahmed al Sabah and his wife Sheikha Hussah Sabah al Salem al Sabah. The collection soon outgrew their house and is now at the Kuwait National Museum. The entire collection has grown to over 20,000 objects, and I’m told that it is regarded by international authorities as one of a small handful of the most comprehensive collections of Islamic art in the world.
Around 170 objects were selected for the Doha exhibition, which range in date from the third millennium BCE to the fifth century CE. They include: jewellery, household items, figurines, ritual objects and decorative elements. Every item is well labelled in Arabic and English, and several videos run continually adding to the understanding of some of the more significant pieces.
Here are a few photos of some of our favourite items in the collection.
The museum has implemented several covid safe precautions. Timed tickets must be purchased online in advance, your temperature is checked on entry to the museum and the exhibit, and of course your Ehteraz* app must be green. So if you are in Doha, get down to the National Museum before this exhibition ends. Tickets are only QR10 for residents (free if you have the Family Culture Pass), so what are you waiting for?
PS. If you are worried about covid and crowding, here’s a pic of one room of the exhibit:
*Ehteraz means precaution in Arabic, I’m told. It’s the contact tracing app we all had to install. Unless your QR code shows green you can’t enter any public buildings.