The five-star Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel displays an array of modern Arabian art at its finest.
There’s no shortage of five-star hotels in the Qatari capital, but art aficionados should opt for the Marsa Malaz Kempinski, where you can sleep surrounded by intricate installations, unique paintings and bespoke Arabian-inspired furniture inlaid with mother of pearl.
Floors, walls, light fixtures, headboards, chairs, tables chandeliers – everything has been beautifully designed, skilfully crafted or carefully-sourced, and the result is a unique hotel that has become an art gallery in itself.
More than 50 chandeliers hang in the Marsa Malaz Kempinski, from simple, chic designs to colourful, statement pieces. Most show-stopping is The Tree of Life, which hangs in the hotel lobby. Tree branches crafted from glass are adorned with 12 multi-coloured hummingbirds made from mouth-blown Murano glass, and three glass flowers hang at the bottom, representing love, life and happiness.
Four more Murano glass chandeliers hang over the grand staircase, hand-made by glass-blowers in Venice. Together, they are made up of over 44,000 pieces that took six weeks to assemble, each forming the shape of an oyster shell in a colourful homage to Qatar’s pearl diving heritage.
Outside the hotel, an almost 60ft tall bespoke bronze sculpture of a horse, designed by Doha-based, Iraqi artist Ahmed Al Bahrani honours the tradition of Arabian horses and the importance the breed has played culturally, not only in Qatar, but the wider region. It’s intricately detailed, sculpted with defined muscles to give the impression of movement, and took more than four weeks to install (it weighs a more-than-sizeable 45 tonnes).
Several other installations by Al Bahrani can be seen at the hotel, as well as around the city. In the lobby is another of his bronze sculptures of a Qur’an verse, along with the flower and butterfly sculpture opposite reception. You can also find his sculpture of large bronze hands, ‘The Challenge 2015’, outside Lusail multipurpose hall to commemorate the 2015 Men’s Handball World Championships.
Jiří Šuhájek, a Czech Bohemian glass artist, had planned to create four samurais for his private collection, each representing a season of the year: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Although he originally had no intention of passing the installations on, the distinct winter and spring samurai sculptures were obtained as signature pieces within Café Murano and Bohemia at Marsa Malaz Kempinski. Although the collection remains unfinished, perhaps one day their counterparts – autumn, which remains in Prague, and summer, which is yet to be created – will join them.
The ‘Winter Samurai’ can be seen in Café Murano and is made from a cool palette of shiny metal, steel and pale coloured glass, evoking ice and snow in contrast to its warm beachside backdrop. The ‘Spring Samurai’, which stands in Bohemia, incorporates vibrant blues and deep greens.
Throughout the 281 rooms and suites of the hotel, you’ll find Arabic influences in the opulent fabrics, the lanterns and glassware, and the unique collection of artwork on display. Bespoke artwork in each room reflects the region’s heritage and history and are part of what gives the hotel its distinct and authentic Arabic feel. Furnishings are Syrian-inspired and hand-crafted with mother of pearl elements embedded in each piece, including the headboards. In total, there are more than 600,000 shimmering pieces of mother-of-pearl across the entire hotel.
Six paintings by Ahmed Allawi hang in the gym and spa, outlining abstract concepts of moving body parts, taken from his ‘Mind, Body and Soul’ collection. Ali Hassan – famous for his distinct canvas paintings – also has work on display.
Integrated into the distinct Arabic theme of the hotel are subtle Venetian influences that complement the hotel’s location next to the Qanat Quartier on The Pearl-Qatar. The hotel’s 42 domes and more than 300 balconies and terraces take inspiration from the squares and plazas of Italy, and much of the hotel’s artwork forms part of a huge collection of Italian art – installations, sculptures, paintings and fabrics – that is spread across the island.
Jiří Šuhájek has several pieces on display. See four of his paintings in El Faro restaurant, which combine different materials, colour splashes and gold paint, or head to the Spa by Clarins reception, where dreamy glass installation ‘The Coral Tree’ is located, crafted from 600 hand-blown pieces of bohemia glass in different shades of blue.
Two unique turquoise mirrors are installed at the entrance of Al Sufra restaurant, as well as four darker mirrors by Sawa and El Faro restaurants. Six uniquely-decorated plant pots have been covered with a beautiful combination of cracked turtle shells and mother-of-pearl.