Saturday, February 25, 2017
Katara and the Museum of Islamic Art
On Thursday morning of our study tour, we all met up at the school to take a trip to a coastline shopping center called Katara, and to a new and large museum displaying various forms of Islamic Art from many different regions.
The name Katara is an ancient name derived from the word Catara that was used on maps and publications to name to peninsula of Qatar. Katara is currently a work of art in process. Katara was born out of a long held vision to put Qatar as a cultural beacon radiating in the Middle East through theatre, music, visual art, conventions, and exhibitions. An example of visual art includes the dove housing in the middle of the cultural village.
The stone structure is visually appealing. It has many designs such as straight and meandering lines. Doves can be seen sitting of the posts jutting out from the sides. This structure stands true to traditional Islamic art which generally include round structures and symmetrical designs.
From Katara, we drove straight to the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). The Museum of Islamic art is relatively new, opening in 2008. The MIA represents the full scope of Islamic art across three continents over several centuries. Its collection includes metal work, ceramics, jewellery, textiles, and glass. Interestingly, the museum was not limited to Middle Eastern art and culture. It included artifacts and manuscripts from areas such as Europe, all of Africa, Central, and South Asia. It encompassed Islam as a whole.
It was very difficult to choose a picture to post for this part of the blog because every picture I had was rich with history and culture. Therefore I chose two pictures to post.
This first picture is an artificial warrior riding on an armored horse. This piece of art likely represented the Crusade period where Islam and Christianity clashed for the first time. The armor and weaponry displayed is concurrent with that time period.
The second picture I chose is of old clocks and calendars known as “Astrolabes”. An “astrolabe” is an astronomical computer relating to time and the position of the Sun and stars. “Astrolabes” are used to show how the sky looks at a specific place at a given time. This should not be mistaken for the traditional Islamic calendar which used the position of the moon as its base for telling time or date.
I don't know how to start this without crying. The thought of leaving Qatar makes me extremely upset. Not only did I gain weight, I gained a new family. I will never be able to forget the memories I have made here. That's what my family and I have been doing all day. We've reminded ourselves of how we felt the first night. We talked about me coming back. They have taken me in with open arms. While we reminisce on the past, we created new memories too. My family and I went to Nando's restaurant because they know I've never been.
I will definitely miss waking up to see the Qatar view.
This view gets more and more beautiful everyday. And when I woke up on day 10, I stared at it for a very long time. This view calmed me down, got me energized, and reminded me how lucky I am to be on a CGS study tour.
I will miss the view, and my friends and all the places we visited. I will miss my host family the most though. I will miss playing with my younger host sister and making stories with her silly bands. I will miss talking to my oldest host sister about her experiences in uni and with music. I will miss talking to Viven (the host sister that is my age) about everything. We may look nothing alike. We may have different lives, but not do we have so much in common. I'll miss our lame jokes that only we laugh at. I will miss my host parents telling me I haven't eaten enough even after I ate 3 shawarma.
The life in Qatar is amazing. There is nothing like it. It is fancy, and a whole new world for me, but the people are even better. The diversity that is in Qatar is amazing. My host family, who are half-German, half-Lebanese showed me many new worlds. I was learning about Qatari, German and Lebanese culture.
The only thing I would change on this trip is that I would make it longer. Honestly, if it were up to me I would never leave. I am in awe of the amount of knowledge I have received and honored of the unique experience CGS/MIS has given us.
These 10 days have been very eventful. I went bowling for the first time, had Indian food for the first time, bargained with a shop owner (and won!) for the first time, got to see how Arabic looked on signs, and learned about new opportunities there are to study abroad. Thank you to all who have made this possible for my classmates and I. We can not thank you enough.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
One the first day I arrived at Qatar and at my host’s house, I visited the Villaggio Mall with Yaman and Medhat (host brothers). When I arrived there, I took notice of its beauty and it’s impressive architecture. There was an indoor replica of river along with paintings of stars and the sky on the ceiling. I also took notice of the chlorine smell along with the magnitude of the mall. However, what I find interesting was the diversity represented at the Mall. I saw a mix of people wearing regular clothes, clothes that teenagers like I would wear, and Traditional Qatari attire like full Hijabs or Gutras. I found this interesting because I did not know what clothing was worn in a Middle Eastern country. As I walked around, I noticed that there were many American stores and outlets there, which surprised me a bit because I hadn’t been aware that Qatari’s were very accustomed to American culture. This was also evident given that almost everyone spoke English and was aware of the current situations America along with our music. However, the mall in Qatar was different than regular malls in America because there were more accessories in the Villaggio mall. In fact, there may have been more there than in SONO Connecticut. There was a bowling arena, ice-skating rink, roller coaster, Imax, carousel, go-carting arena, etc. We eventually made our way to the arena park area. There, I saw a mini roller coaster then went around the area, a bigger colorful carousel in the middle, a large light blue waterslide in the corner, and a trampoline jump. This was exciting for me because not only had I never seen an amusement park in a mall, but also I had never seen an indoor amusement park. While this seems surprising to me, the Qatari students who were hosting us didn’t share the same enthusiasm or amazement given that they had been there many times. We then went outside to a beautiful park where we saw a small lake, the torch tower, and where the construction of the FIFA world cup would be. Despite the cold and rainy weather, the park had beautiful scenery.
Yesterday we were able to get in touch with nature. In the morning, we visited Qatar Foundation's which was home to Al Shaqab, a complex that nurtured and trained horses in preparation for races.
Al Shaqab is made up of stables, training areas, as well as an enormous stadium for everyone to view the races. We were able to get an exclusive view of the behind the scenes of how and where they trained. We even met some of the horses! As we were touring our tour guide (humbly) listed the awards the horses have won. The horses that we met hold countless national, regional, and international titles.
Later in the day, all of the students visited the Sealine Beach which is roughly an hour away from the main city. We arrived at the beach around four o'clock in the afternoon and decided to have dinner on the shore. We laid a couple blankets down, purchased some food from an Arab restaurant nearby, and ate until we all got tired.
After about an hour or two of multiple conversations and lots of laughs, we decided to take a walk along the water. I know it sounds like a movie, but that's exactly how it felt. We walked down a couple miles and stopped to photograph the beautiful sunset that was ahead of us. On our walk back we met a man who began sharing his appreciation for Qatar’s beautiful views when he saw us taking the pictures. He seemed just as amazed as we were, which made me realize one thing about the Qatari people.
Since I've touched down in Qatar I recognized that the Qatari people are truly proud to be where they are from. They treat their country with pride, from the Royal Family all the way down to the grains of sand. During the tour at the horse stadium they treated their horses as people, and were not sorry to share their accomplishments. The man at the beach was clearly proud to experience the nature that Qatar holds. I believe believing in your country is important, and appreciating all of the good that it gives is important as well; and that is one beautiful quality that most Qataris possess.
Monday, February 20, 2017
Hello! My name is Anna Zerbinati, and I am currently half way across the world expanding my horizons. This year I decided to take on another language which happened to be Arabic. Having taken two years and a half of Chinese and then taking Arabic really showed me the distinct features and unique styles of the language. Although I am still an Arabic 1 student, I didn't let that stop me from experiencing a once in a lifetime trip to Qatar. I wasn't fully sure I was prepared but decided to take the risk and couldn't be more grateful I did. I am loving it here in Qatar! The weather is great, the people are so kind, and most of all everything is so beautiful. Every building, every store, every highway is designed so that when you look at it you see more than just stones and bricks. You see the intricate designs and patterns that show a lot about the Qatari culture. Different from New York City where the skyline is filled with buildings with the same rectangular prism shape. In a tour through the city you are put face to face with buildings that are zig zag or slanted, or even cylindrical. And to top it off every building is faced with abstract designs that in the night time glisten with colorful lights.
Upon arrival, the first thing that came to mind was Florida. It smells very much like the beach here because of the desert sand. Living in the desert is extremely different compared to back home. For example yesterday it rained a ton and the front of my hosts’ house became an ocean. Because it rains so little here the streets are not prepared for large storms, therefor the roads have no sewers. Instead the government sends big trucks to go to each street and pump out the large masses of water.
Of course the food here is delicious! Everything is so fresh, products don't last for years, and there's a variety of restaurants from all around the world. On our second night here the hosts planned a welcome dinner at a Syrian restaurant. The food was really good and it wouldn't stop coming! I've noticed that hospitality here is shown with lots and lots and lots of food. And at the end of every meal you are offered dessert and tea.
Today we took a trip to the Sheikh Faisal Museum to learn more about old Qatari traditions and how lifestyles has evolved over the years. This is a private museum that displays different artifacts from a variety of cultures such as the Qatari, Moroccan, Palestinian, Christian and even Jewish culture. Along with that there are many war items such as guns and swords that were used in ancient wars. Sheikh Faisal also has collection of antique cars in his museum and a cage with four cheetahs. All items on display were collected by Sheikh himself as he traveled the world in search for his pieces. What I thought was very unique about the museum is how there are rooms you can walk into and they are a replica of rooms back in the day. For example there was a section that displayed what old Christian prayer rooms looked like. They had a golden bible and even a confession booth. All in all I have never seen a musuem like this before and enjoyed the unique once in a lifetime experience.
The trip has been amazing so far and I couldn't be more grateful for our hosts, chaperones, and Center for Global Studies for giving me an experience I could not have gotten anywhere else. I hope all is well back in the U.S! See you guys soon!!
Thank you !
With lots of love,