Doha's treasure trove of Islamic history

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Through time the art and architecture of the Islamic world has defined a civilization that once extended from Cordoba in Spain to the Mogul empire in China and India.

Today a new cultural landmark in Qatar brings together 14 centuries of that history under one roof at the Doha Museum of Islamic Art.

Designed by architect I.M. Pei, best known for his glass pyramids at Paris' Louvre museum, the stunning building houses 3,800 square meters of treasures, spanning three continents.

From intricate metal work and calligraphy to ceramics, textiles and precious stones, the collection represents the feverish efforts of the Qatari royal family to assemble an unrivalled collection of Islamic antiquities over the past few years.

"One of the enormous achievements is to have built up such a collection of such enormous historic and aesthetic importance in such a short space of time," Museum Director Oliver Watson told CNN.

Treasure trove of antiquities

Among the standout pieces in the museum's collection are the earliest surviving pages of the Koran, dating from the late 7th century, the earliest surviving silk carpet from Iran and a 9th century Iraqi porcelain bowl.

Such objects bore enormous influence on the Islamic world and beyond. For example, Iraqi pottery such as the museum's white glazed bowl with blue calligraphy was copied by the Chinese, eventually becoming the largest ceramics industry in the world...

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