The museum draws much influence from ancient Islamic architecture, yet has a unique design. It was the first of its kind in Arab States of the Persian Gulf and has a very large collection of Islamic art, plus a study and a library. Facilities also include IDAM, a high class restaurant offering a dining experience of French Mediterranean cuisine with an Arabic twist. Sabiha Al Khemir served as the founding director of the museum from 2006-2008.The museum has a total area of 45,000 m2 and lies on the edge of Doha harbour at the south end of Doha Bay. Construction by Baytur Constr.Co. (Turkey) reached completion in 2006, but the museum’s interior was subjected to a variety of changes thereafter. The museum celebrated its VIP opening on November 22, 2008, and opened to the general public on December 8, 2008.
Declining all proposed sites for the museum, Pei suggested a stand-alone island for the structure in order to avoid the encroachment on other buildings. Thus it was built on the water, 64 acres (260,000 m2) approximately 195 feet (59 m) off the Doha Corniche and surrounded by a park. Pei requested, further, that the museum spaces be designed by his collaborator on the Louvre project, Wilmotte & Associes, who then assembled a design team including Plowden & Smith (conservation consultants), Isometrix Lighting + Design (lighting consultants), SG Conseil (AV Consultants) under Turner Projacs. As well alongside with this design team, Leslie E. Robertson Associates was the structural engineer for this project