Checking out Qatar's Capital for the Opening of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival

By brian | Poverty Jetset October 30, 2009 at 12:22PM

Checking out Qatar's Capital for the Opening of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival

The gleaming, and apparently new skyline, in Qatar's capital, Doha. Most of the international guests are staying in this area at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival at one of two hotels - The Four Seasons and the W Hotel Doha. The W has quite a night life, attracting what appears to be a large community of expats, who head to hotels where alcohol is served (not cheaply). Locals said that the skyline that is now rising from this area of town did not exist five years ago.

Ahead of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival opening night, organizers hosted this very lovely lunch with a great round of Arabic cuisine (the hommos here is amazing!) Mira Nair, Martin Scorsese, Geoff Gilmore (formerly of Sundance, now Tribeca Enterprises head) and the inaugural festival's exec director Amanda Palmer all gave chats. Great view, delicious food, and by the waterside. Unfortunately, it was also over 100 degrees (at least it felt like it) and everyone was in the direct sun, so some people started heading out between courses. One guest told me, "I think I know how to get rich in Qatar... Tents!" I sort of felt bad for the staff running around wearing their long-sleeved uniforms with gloves. Ouch!

Martin Scorsese at the Doha Tribeca welcome lunch.

The I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art was a fabulous venue for the opening of the festival, it's a stunning building that fuses traditional Arabic architecture with contemporary overtones set in expansive grounds with the building itself nestled right in the Persian Gulf (called the Arabian Gulf here) itself. An illuminated "red carpet" spanned the bridge to the main building where stars, members of the Qatari royal family and I'm sure a host of other regional who's who walked. Doha-based 24 hour worldwide news network Al Jazeera gave updates in the run up to the festival's opening here, and 3,000 locals came out to watch the opening film, "Amelia," on a huge outdoor screen in the museum grounds. In fact, apparently scuffles broke out as chairs filled up. There were also some other snafus. The police who were handling the traffic didn't seem to know which buses to let into the grounds (I was on one and all of us on the bus ended up having to get out and run across a very busy Roundabout in front of the museum - pretty scary). But all in all, quite impressive.

The illuminated red carpet at the Museum of Islamic Art.

While V.V.I.Ps including Scorsese, Patricia Clarkson and other stars as well as the Tribeca heads and the Qatari royals partied in a room upstairs, the "V.I.Ps" hung out in the courtyard at the Museum of Islamic Art ahead of the start of the screening. No alcohol was served at the opening party, just "mocktails" as one expat who lives here calls it.

More of the courtyard at MIA, with the view facing the Gulf and the Doha city center across the harbor.

M.I.A. looking toward the courtyard from the outside.

Inside the Museum of Islamic Art in the main lobby.

Crowds gathering for the outdoor screening of Mira Nair's "Amelia" (Middle East premiere).

This article is related to: Doha Tribeca Film Festival