How to: Get to Sheikh Faisal Museum

Sheikh Faisal Museum

The Sheikh Faisal Museum is one of my top sites for visitors to Qatar. Maybe top 3. Definitely top 5. It is the most unique museum with the most eclectic collection I have ever seen. There is something for everyone:  history buffs, art lovers, fashionistas, rev heads. There is so much to see.

It is definitely not you’re average museum and as a result, getting to it can be a bit complicated. In fact, many long-time residents haven’t visited the museum because it all seems too hard. But trust me – it’s worth the effort.

Here’s what to do:

 

Make an appointment

The team at the Museum prefer it if you make an appointment before coming.  You can stop in if you’re just driving past, but they really prefer you to call ahead. You can do so by phoning +974 4486 1444 or emailing sfm.reservation@yahoo.com.

Opening hours are 9 am – 6 pm every day except Sunday and Friday. I believe it is closed during Ramadan.

 

Getting There

The museum is located about 20 km from Education City, up Dukhan Highway. To get there, drive along the Dukhan Highway until you see a white sign on the side of the road (on your right) that reads Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum (the museum’s full name) with a U-Turn arrow. The museum is on your left – it looks like a huge fort.

Take the next exit on your right which is the same exit you take for the Camel Races. Instead of turning right to go to the race track, do a big loopy u-turn and head back towards the city. Drive for about 7 km, past a palm tree plantation on your right (basically looks like hundreds of walled-in palm trees). Here’s the Google map.

Eventually you’ll see another white sign on your right pointing to the museum (if it has been a windy night this may have blown over – look out!). Turn right and the museum is about 1 km up a tree-lined road. At the moment there are road works so you’ll have a confusing detour – just head for the tree-lined road perpendicular to the highway.

Once you’re inside the gates, the museum entry is quite hard to find. It’s between 3 dead olive trees, to the left of a man-made lake. Don’t drive up any ramps or anything – the entrance is on ground level. Walk through the large wooden doors and a small reception desk is on your right.

Sheikh Faisal Museum Entry

Tours

Since this is not a traditional museum there are no maps or headsets or brochures so you really need a guide to show you around. When you phone up to make your appointment, check if a guide will be available and if not, check if there are any other tours operating around the time you want to go so you can join in.

Here’s what you have to understand about the tours:

  • There is SO MUCH at the museum that I’m sure it is impossible for any 1 person to know it all.
  • The Shiekh is still collecting so there are often new items that appear without warning.
  • Some of the items are connected to both culturally rich and culturally sensitive topics so not a lot of concrete information exists about them.
  • Those of us who live here know that some things are just touchy so don’t be suprised if your guide can’t or won’t answer some of your questions.
  • You are not there to get a detailed history on Qatar, you are here to explore the Shiekh’s museum.
  • Similarly, do not expect a lesson in every intimate detail of the Sheikh’s life. He is incredibly generous to let people see his personal possessions – let’s try to remember that!
  • Having said all that, the guides that I have met are incredibly open-minded and more than willing to field questions on anything and everything so you might as well ask whatever is on your mind!

The tours last a few hours and the guide basically lingers in the areas you seem interested in. If you are short of time, ask the people in your party to hold the questions!

Entry is free and so are tours but I believe it is custom to tip your guide.

 

Layout

The main section of the museum consists of several rooms which more or less have a theme. Outside the main museum, around the central courtyard, there are also several other rooms such as the textiles room and the fossil room. The property itself is huge and includes a horse stable and peacock farm.

 

Tips

Since the place is huge, plan to spend at least 2.5 hours looking around. Wear comfortable shoes. Eat a large meal before you go so you don’t get hungry (trust me – it’s exerting). Take some water so that thirst doesn’t stand between you and the fossil room.

I think this might be a good thing to do after any overseas visitors have been in Qatar for a few days and have already buffed up on a bit of regional geography and history. A bit of background knowledge could be helpful.

 

Highlights

An entire house from Damascus old town, a wooden confessional, the 1938 buick, a fossilised dinosaur head, a fully functional F1 car, an aeroplane, a 2 cm Quran, the largest privately-owned weapons collection in the world.

 

Intro image from here.  Lake image from here.

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