DOHA: Almost a decade in the making, three years late and at an estimated cost of $434 million, Qatar´s vast national museum, built in the shape of a desert rose, opens this week.
A glittering ceremony, expected to include Qatar´s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, takes place on Wednesday, with the doors opening to the public the next day.
“Architecture to give a voice to heritage whilst celebrating (the) future,” tweeted the museum´s renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, also responsible for the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The pale, futuristic 52,000-square metre structure located on Doha´s waterfront corniche will be the first notable building visitors to Qatar see as they make their way from the airport to the city centre.
Even in a country which is being built, rebuilt and utterly transformed for the 2022 football World Cup, the national museum could be the single most eye-catching design of all Qatar´s new buildings.
The entrance includes 114 fountain sculptures in a 900-metre long lagoon and the museum´s multi-curved roof, which resembles a giant jigsaw puzzle, is made up of 76,000 panels in 3,600 different shapes and sizes.
Inside, there is more than 1,500 metres (yards) of gallery space.
Among the exhibits is a 19th century carpet embroidered with 1.5 million Gulf pearls and the oldest Holy Quran yet discovered in Qatar, also dating back to the 1800s.
“This is a museum that narrates the story of the people of Qatar,” Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz bin Jassim al-Thani, the museum´s director, has stated.
The National Museum of Qatar also stands on the site of the former palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim al-Thani — son of the founder of modern Qatar. The palace has been restored as part of the massive project.
The museum, which officials say celebrates Qatar´s Bedouin past and energy-rich present, also reflects the country´s massive wealth and ambition.