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Qatar National Library announces full slate of events to mark opening
March 31, 2018, 4:18 pm

Qatar National Library (QNL), a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), will celebrate its official opening in April with two weeks of events to mark the occasion. The public is invited to attend lectures, panel discussions, and exhibitions that highlight the library’s leading role in spreading knowledge and promoting the history and heritage of Qatar, the Arabian Gulf region, and beyond.

On 17 April, the Qatar-German exhibition will open with a detailed look at the history of Arabic and German fairy and folk tales, and how the two traditions influenced each other. The exhibition highlights, among other things, modern techniques of storytelling in Qatar and Germany and includes contemporary German and Qatari tales inspired by the Arabian Nights and the fairy stories of the Gebrüder Grimm.

The first QNL Heritage Library exhibition will open to the public on 17 April, displaying a wide range of items from the collection that illustrate the spread of ideas throughout the Islamic world, as well as documenting interaction between Arabs and the West through the centuries. The exhibition features books, manuscripts, maps, globes, and travelers' instruments, telling the story of Qatar, along with the history of science, literature, women, writing, travel, and religions in the region.

On the evening of 17 April, QNL will host ‘Truth Matters: The Era of Fake News,’ an inaugural panel discussion on how so-called ‘fake news’ is being used in the current political climate to manipulate political agendas and what should be done about it. Panelists include Roger Cohen of The New York Times; Roly Keating, Chief Executive, the British Library; Charles Henry, President of the Council on Library and Information Resources; and Maggie Salem, Executive Director of Qatar Foundation International. The panel will be moderated by Samer Shehata, Professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma.

On 18 April, in conjunction with the opening of QNL’s first digital exhibition, data journalist and designer David McCandless will deliver an inaugural lecture titled ‘Information is Beautiful: A Data-Driven Tour of the Universe’. McCandless will use visualization to tell stories about the way we live, exhibit enhanced journalism, reveal unseen patterns, and challenge the audience’s way of seeing the world.

“One of our missions as a library is to help raise the information literacy of our users – to help them develop critical thinking and judgement skills to find, recognize, and use the materials they need,” said Dr. Sohair Wastawy, Executive Director of QNL. “Our inaugural panel discussion and lecture will address many of the important issues and opportunities we face in a time of seemingly limitless access to information.”

On 19 April, the public are invited to attend a lecture by Dr. Essam Heggy, a planetary scientist at the Viterbi School of Engineering in the University of Southern California, and a ROSETTA co-investigator at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dr. Heggy will discuss the natural forces, such as evolving deserts and changing coastlines, that define Qatar’s past, present, and future.

That evening, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra will perform as part of its monthly Philharmonic at the Library concert series. The architecture of Qatar and the Arabian Gulf takes center stage with the launch of the ‘Traditional Gulf Architecture Week; an exhibition and a conference’, which is open to the public and runs from 22–25 April. Islamic archaeologist, Professor Claire Hardy-Guilbert will open the Architecture Week with a lecture on Qatar’s traditional architecture, including palaces, houses, shops, farms, mosques, and fortresses. The lecture will be preceded by the opening of an exhibition of photographs of Qatar traditional buildings, taken in 1985–1986 by the French Archaeological Mission in Qatar, and recently acquired by the QNL.

The conference that will follow brings together local, regional, and international experts on the architecture of the Arabian Gulf to discuss its traditions, influences, evolution, and functions.

In addition to the public events, QNL will be hosting several invitation-only events following the grand opening, including ‘Libraries in Conversation: A Global Perspective,’ a workshop in which globally renowned librarians will challenge and discuss assumptions made about libraries in the 21st century. QNL will also be formalizing several partnerships through signings of memoranda of understanding, and will host a board meeting of the British Library–Qatar Foundation Partnership.



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