Drawn To doha

Harper's Bazaar (India) - - BAZAAR ESCAPE -

Tipu Sul­tan had Napoleon as his ally—and the Duke of Wellington as his im­pla­ca­ble en­emy. You might ex­pect to find an ex­hi­bi­tion de­voted to his tur­bu­lent times in In­dia, or even, at a pinch, in Paris or London. But not in the Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art in Doha. It is here, how­ever, that the Tiger of Mysore, as he was known, is cel­e­brated in a beau­ti­ful new dis­play of rare 18th

In­dian paint­ings. There are few coun­tries that have poured such a huge sum of money into art (some say around £700 mil­lion a year) as Qatar has, through its Mu­se­ums Au­thor­ity (QMA). Its in­vest­ments range from the peer­less beauty of IM Pei’s Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art to the drama of a Richard Serra sculp­ture work called East-West/ West-East, deep in the desert of the Brouq Na­ture Re­serve. The lat­ter is built to ox­i­dise in the heat and salt and sand­storms of its en­vi­rons.

Even the new US$17-bil­lion air­port has been turned into a gi­ant art space, where trav­ellers will en­counter works by Damien Hirst, and Urs Fis­cher’s gi­ant yel­low Lamp Bear— a mono­lithic, dystopian Pud­sey. No won­der Sheikha Al-Mayassa, the chair of the QMA, was re­cently voted the most im­por­tant per­son in the art world to­day.

Ev­ery­thing in Qatar is de­signed on a grandiose scale. The ho­tels are ex­cep­tion­ally smart, whether you go for the ur­ban com­forts of the Four Sea­sons, or the re­sort charms of Sharq Vil­lage, with its many swimming pools and su­perb spa—a work of art in it­self. The Damien Hirst ex­hi­bi­tion in Doha in­cluded pieces that never made it into his Tate Bri­tain show, such as For Heaven’s Sake, the di­a­mond-cov­ered skull of a child; the en­tire gi­ant ex­hi­bi­tion hall, Al Ri­waq, was pa­pered in polka dots for the oc­ca­sion. And the most ex­cit­ing new build­ing here, ris­ing like a mirage by the Ara­bian Sea, is Jean Nou­vel’s poetic Na­tional Mu­seum of Qatar, a desert rose springing to life and set to open in 2016. Con­tact: Four Sea­sons Ho­tel, Doha, Qatar; tel: +974 4494 8888; www.foursea­sons.com. Sharq Vil­lage & Spa; tel: +974 4425 6666; www.ritzcarl­ton.com.

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