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For World Cup guests, a peek into Islamic artwork, heritage

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — An emerald inscribed for a Mughal emperor. A Safavid-period knotted wool carpet. An Ottoman-era curtain, intricately embroidered with steel threads, which was a part of the masking of the Kaaba, the cube-shaped construction in Mecca that Muslims take into account the metaphorical “home of God.”

Like tiles in a mosaic, the gathering in Doha’s Museum of Islamic Artwork, or MIA, gives guests with a peek into numerous points of Muslim heritage, artwork and craftmanship with objects spanning three continents and lots of centuries.

In a capital the place a lot is new, the museum showcases quite a lot of the outdated and historic. And with soccer followers from world wide descending on Qatar, the story that the museum tells now has extra listeners.

On a latest day, guests — some sporting soccer jerseys or scarves — stopped to snap images, examine an object, learn a label or browse cabinets lined with books and souvenirs.

“The structure itself is excellent. Additionally, I like the within shows; the items are very spectacular,” stated Bert Liu, who lives in the US. “Earlier than I knew little or no about Islamic historical past however after I noticed a whole lot of objects, I really feel I discovered extra.”

Qatari officers say they hope the event will assist present guests with a greater understanding of their tradition and that of the bigger area. The World Cup host has confronted intense criticism over rights points, together with the remedy of migrant employees, and accusations of “sportswashing” or making an attempt to make use of the occasion’s status to remake its picture.

Qatari officers have argued that the nation’s progress and achievements are being missed. The ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said a number of the assaults on the primary Arab and Muslim nation to host the World Cup included “fabrications and double requirements.”

Sports activities will not be the one space the place Qatar, a small nation with massive ambitions and the huge wealth to match, has sought to go away its mark as a part of a quest for international affect. It has additionally been aiming to carve out a reputation within the tradition and humanities arenas, together with with museums like MIA.

“Qatar has invested a lot by way of establishing itself as a Center Jap hub for tradition and artwork with soft-power aspirations being a key issue driving these efforts,” stated Giorgio Cafiero, CEO of Gulf State Analytics, a geopolitical threat consultancy primarily based in Washington, D.C. “Museums in Doha have executed a lot to assist the Qataris promote their tradition, inform their tales, and share their distinctive views with international audiences.”

And now, he famous, many soccer followers could also be visiting the area for the primary time.

Qatar is much from alone in such grand, well-financed cultural endeavors, with different Gulf international locations additionally vying for vacationers as they try to diversify their economies.

“We have now the ambition to point out Islamic tradition in all its variety and form of additionally present the regional variations,” stated Julia Gonnella, MIA’s director. “The concept is basically for training, for variety, additionally to construct up a society past oil and fuel.”

The museum attracts each Muslim and non-Muslim guests, she stated, including that MIA’s “first viewers” is the individuals who dwell in Qatar.

Designed by famend architect I.M. Pei, the MIA complicated has a presence that’s one way or the other each imposing and easy, with its waterfront location, light-colored exteriors and sharp and clear architectural traces. Geometric shapes and Islamic motifs seem inside. Home windows drench the encircling space in daylight and supply a view of modern-looking buildings jutting into the sky throughout the water.

The museum’s assortment contains metalwork, ceramics, woodwork and textiles. Objects on show embody jewellery, manuscripts of the Quran, the Muslim holy e-book, armor and arms.

Gabriel Petersen, who visited from Australia, stated he was impressed by how outdated a number of the objects have been and loved seeing reveals from totally different components of the world.

“It’s only a totally different tradition,” he stated. “You don’t get a lot of that in Australia.”

The museum additionally presents glimpses into non secular beliefs and rituals. Guests can learn concerning the 5 pillars of Islam — the career of religion, prayer, almsgiving, fasting and hajj or pilgrimage — or study hajj rituals and totally different funerary practices within the Islamic world.

Initially opened in 2008, the museum closed in April 2021 and reopened a month earlier than the World Cup with expanded interpretive supplies to assist present extra context for objects on show.

A short lived exhibition titled “Baghdad: Eye’s Delight” celebrates the capital of Iraq as one of many “most necessary and influential cities within the Islamic world” and highlights its position as a metropolis “of energy, scholarship, and riches,” in response to the museum. The exhibition options objects on mortgage from world-renowned establishments, MIA says.

Rob Humphreys, who was visiting from Wales, stated he significantly loved viewing Baghdad from a distinct angle.

“A minimum of in Europe, we are likely to affiliate Baghdad with … struggle and so forth and the invasion,” he stated. “Studying about how necessary Baghdad was as a cultural and scientific and buying and selling metropolis … was actually fascinating.”

Catrin Evans, his spouse, admired the standard of craftmanship courting again centuries in MIA’s assortment and thought the calligraphy, jewellery and copies of the Quran have been “awe inspiring.”

“We have a tendency to think about the whole lot in a European, Western perspective,” she stated. “This undoubtedly opened my eyes to the background to Islam and in addition the tradition right here.”

At one level, the couple considered not coming to Qatar for the World Cup due to misgivings over rights’ points, together with these of LGBTQ individuals.

“We’ve come to study, nevertheless it doesn’t imply we put our values to at least one facet whereas we’re right here,” Humphreys stated, including cultural exchanges are additionally necessary to them.

“Museums are all the time good locations for producing new concepts, typically controversial,” he stated. “Nevertheless it’s an area to specific these and discover them and speak and have a dialogue.”

___ Related Press author Luis Andres Henao contributed to this report.

Related Press faith protection receives help by way of the AP’s collaboration with The Dialog US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely accountable for this content material.

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