Islamic scientific achievements encompassed a wide range of subject areas, especially astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. Other subjects of scientific inquiry included alchemy and chemistry, botany, geography and cartography, ophthalmology, pharmacology, physics, and zoology.
Astronomy and cosmology
Astronomy was a major discipline within Islamic science. Effort was devoted both towards understanding the nature of the cosmos and to practical purposes. One of these was determining the Qibla, the direction in which to pray. Another was astrology, predicting events affecting human life and selecting suitable times for actions such as going to war or founding a city. Al-Battani (850–922) accurately determined the length of the solar year. He contributed to the Tables of Toledo, used by astronomers to predict the movements of the sun, moon and planets across the sky. Some of his astronomic tables were later used by Copernicus.
Geography and cartography
The swift spread of Islam across Western Asia and North Africa encouraged an unprecedented growth in trade and travel by land and sea as far away as Southeast Asia, China, much of Africa, Scandinavia and even Iceland. Geographers worked to create increasingly accurate maps of the known world, starting from many existing but fragmentary sources. Abu Zayd al-Balkhi (850–934), founder of the Balkhī school of cartography in Baghdad, wrote an atlas called Figures of the Regions (Suwar al-aqalim). Al-Biruni (973–1048) measured the radius of the earth using a new method. It involved observing the height of a mountain at Nandana (now in Pakistan). Al-Idrisi (1100–1166) created a map of the world for Roger, the Norman King of Sicily. He also wrote the Book of Roger, a geographic study of the peoples, climates, resources and industries of the whole of the world known at that time. The Ottoman admiral Piri Reis (c. 1470–1553) made a map of the New World and West Africa in 1513. He made use of maps from Greece, Portugal, Muslim sources, and perhaps one made by Christopher Columbus. He was part of a major tradition of Ottoman cartography.
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
The Museum of Islamic Art (Arabic: متحف الفن الإسلامي,) is a museum located on one end of the seven kilometers long Corniche in the Qatari capital, Doha. As with the architect I. M. Pei’s requirement, the museum is built on an island off an artificial projecting peninsula near the traditional dhow (wooden Qatari boat) harbor. A purpose-built park surrounds the edifice on the Eastern and Southern facades while 2 bridges connect the Southern front facade of the property with the main peninsula that holds the park. The Western and Northern facades are marked by the harbor showcasing the Qatari seafaring past.
The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) represents Islamic art from three continents over 1,400 years. Its collection includes metal work, ceramics, jewelry, wood work, textiles and glass obtained from three continents and dating from the 7th to the 19th century.
Qatar’s ambition to become the most important cultural destination of the Gulf’s area was made concrete in 2008 with the opening of the MIA, the Museum of Islamic Art. It was designed by I.M. Pei, the Chinese-American architect that notably built the glass pyramid for the Louvre in Paris. It is considered to be one of the world’s great museums.
The art scene in Qatar witnessed substantial development in the mid- and late 1950s. Initially, arts were overseen by the Ministry of Education, with art exhibitions being hosted in its facilities. In 1972, the government started providing increased funding to aid the development of arts within the country. The father of modern artists in Qatar is Jassim Zaini (1943-2012) whose work explored diversity in techniques and documented the changing society from traditional local life to a global style. The Qatari Fine Arts Society was established in 1980 with the objective of promoting the works of Qatari artists.In 1998, the National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage was established. Qatar Museums was established in the early 2000s to build and connect all museums and collections in Qatar. Two major museums lead the institution: the Museum of Islamic Art opened in 2008, and the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, opened in Education City Qatar Foundation in 2010.