Msheireb Museums, the four revived historic Qatari heritage houses in the heart of Msheireb Downtown Doha, are commemorating their fourth anniversary this month. Developed by Msheireb Properties, Msheireb Museums tells the history of Qatar’s development through the country’s oldest city centre. Collectively, the four houses act as a social history museum that observes, documents and inspires dialogue for societal and cultural development and to realise Qatar’s aspiration for greatness.
Ali al-Kuwari, acting CEO of Msheireb Properties, said: “It’s been four years of success and achievements for Msheireb Museums. The restoration of the four houses into world-class museums forms a vital part of the regeneration of downtown Doha, making it the living memory of the treasured old city of Msheireb.”
The famous Bin Jelmood House was rebuilt to be the "first museum in the world that addresses slavery across the Indian Ocean". It has evolved along the years into a dynamic platform tackling modern forms of slavery such as human trafficking and manipulation, raising awareness locally and internationally, a press statement notes.
Opposite Bin Jelmood House stands Company House, the first oil company headquarters known in Qatar, and the first house where Qatari pioneers gathered to spend their short breaks waiting for salaries or to be transferred for more digging work at the oil fields in Dukhan. Documents and contracts that tell the story of Qatari forefathers were first filed in this house, revealing to the world the story of a nation that refused to be usurped by powerful superpowers.
Across the street stands Mohammed Bin Jassim House, created to preserve the memories of old Msheireb, the social and business hub at the time. The museum takes visitors through the transformational journey the city centre has undertaken to become what is now known as Msheireb Downtown Doha. The House pays tribute to the people who once laid the foundation and saw the implementation of the world’s smartest and most sustainable city district.
Radwani House, on the other hand, rises strong on its original pillars to bring back the past, giving visitors a glimpse of how Qatari families used to live many decades ago, prior to the shift in the economic conditions of the country. Most of the artefacts on display are items that were found during excavation work at the site of the old house.
"Msheireb Museums look for innovative ways to tackle contemporary social issues and advocate local and global topics. Their mission transcends putting history on display to using it to establish dialogue between cultures, build bridges and define a sustainable future," the statement notes.
Dr Hafiz Ali, Msheireb Museums director, said: “The houses reveal the unique aspects of Qatar’s cultural and social development through Msheireb, creating inspiring environments in which the visitors will engage, converse and exchange thoughts about both the past, the present and the future.
“The displays, interactive screens and dramatic storytelling make each of the houses relevant and fun, while community programmes such as the summer and winter workshops make it a people’s museum and supporter of local talent.”
Nasser al-Remaihi, senior events executive at Msheireb Museums, added: “We continuously create programmes that engage audiences of all ages. We have served workshops on entrepreneurship, filming, photography, painting, soft skills and science with a focus on genome and DNA. We are proud of the many moments when the community joined, actively participated in, and engaged with our diverse programmes, events and exhibitions.”
Since its opening in October 2015, the museums have attracted tourists, locals and organisations back to Msheireb, reviving its status as part of the oldest cultural hub known in Doha. It has become a venue of choice for many community events and a preferred partner to government entities, the statement points out.
Chief among these was the ArcheoMed Exhibition, held in co-operation with the Italian embassy and Unesco, which adopted Augmented Reality to reinstate key archaeological sites. The US embassy also joined hands with Msheireb Museums to raise awareness on human trafficking, officially presenting their Human Rights report to the library collection consecutively for the last four years.
Earlier this year, Msheireb Museums were nominated for the Agha Khan Award 2019, the first Museum in Qatar to ever be nominated since the 1970s, in acknowledgement of the role they play towards the community. They have also launched a mobile application, which uses location technology to help visitors enjoy customised automated tours at their own pace, in different languages.
“As a social history museum, we work in collaboration with various partners to observe and promote societal development, cultural dialogue and knowledge exchange, reviving Msheireb’s status as the cultural centre of Doha. It’s through this effort that we attempt to create a platform that leverages history to understand the present and make the future better for all,” Dr Hafiz concluded.