Saturday, February 9, 2013

Camel training and Sheikh Faisal’s Museum

I was looking forward to taking my dad to see Sheikh Faisal's museum ... it's an impressive collection and dad loves museums, so it was right up his alley!  Sheikh Faisal is the uncle of the current Emir and he’s been collecting since he was a young child – everything from weapons, furniture, cars, artwork, falconry, boats, fossils, the list is endless!  The museum is open to the public and free of charge.  You can call in advance and arrange a free guided tour as well.
The camel race tracks are on the way to the museum so we stopped on the way. It wasn't a race day, but it's still cool to see all the camels training on the tracks.
camel crossing
Camel crossing
camel training
Camels training on the track
camel prizes
Parking lot full of Toyota Landcruisers ... prizes to the first 10 camels of every race. 
They give away a lot of Landcruisers!  Plus $40,000 cash. 
After driving around the camel tracks, we arrived at the museum at 9:15 for our 9:30 appointment, but our guide wasn’t there.  We wandered around on our own while we awaited her arrival.  By nearly 11am, I was pretty disappointed.  The guide finally arrived, but we didn’t have much time before we had to leave to pick up Nicholas from school.  We tagged along with a small group, but weren’t too impressed with their guide’s knowledge of the museum, so we started to leave. 
Dad had a question about one of the cars and another guy that clearly worked for the museum answered him and showed him the cars up close.  Turns out the man was second in charge of the museum after Sheikh Faisal himself!.  He opened up the private VIP room and even opened up some of the cases so we could touch 400 year old rugs woven in gold and silver thread!  It was unbelievable!!  The highlight for me was touching the $10M fabric ribbon that surrounds the kaaba in Mecca.  I can’t believe he let us touch these things!!!
front entrance
Entrance to Sheik Faisal's Museum.  It's looks like a massive castle in the middle of the desert.
museum courtyard
One of the inner courtyards to the museum
dinosaur fossil
Fossil of a dinosaur head - can you see it's mouth full of teeth?
dad in car gallery
Dad standing in the car gallery
House from Damascas that was taken apart stone by stone and reconstructed in the museum
house reconstructed
Inside the reconstructed house
200yr old chest with ivory inlaid
200 yr old chest - all inlaid with ivory
all gold and silver thread
This "camel taxi / tent" is made entirely of gold and silver thread.
It was so heavy, I could barely lift the fabric!
10M$ ribbon from kaaba
This is the $10M fabric banner (gold and silver thread) that wrapped around the Kaaba in Mecca.
kaaba in mecca
This picture was taken from the internet to show the Kaaba. It's the black box in the middle of the pictre.  You can see the millions of Muslims that travel to Mecca during the annual pilgrimmage.  Part of the experience is to circle around the Kaaba 7 times.  If I'm not mistaken, Muslims believe this is the place where Abraham built an alter to the Lord, after God provided an animal to sacrifice in place of his son Isaac.  Anyhoo, the gold ribbon around the Kaaba in this picture is what Sheikh Faisal has in his museum.  I'm sure they replaced it with a new one.
And finally, Qatari wedding clothing ... do you see me hiding behind a niqab (the face mask worn by many Qatari women)? 

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