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Qatar National Library opens a new knowledge pathway in the region
April 21, 2018, 5:42 pm

Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, officially inaugurated the Qatar National Library (QNL) at a grand opening ceremony of its new building by placing the one millionth book on its shelves. Representatives of more than 50 nations attended the memorable and impressive ceremony that included a LED carpet welcome with a virtual tour of Qatar’s landmarks.

As a member of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development, QNL acts as a steward of the country’s heritage by collecting, preserving and making available the country’s recorded history.

Welcoming guests from all over the world, the Chairperson of Qatar Foundation Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, said: “The inauguration of Qatar National Library invokes a great sense of historical pride and belonging to the Arab world, which pioneered writing, transcription, and libraries in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago. The idea of the National Library was inspired by this glorious history, in hopes of restoring an Arab renaissance that we do not want to lose.”

“Essentially, it will be an institution of reference for Arabic and Islamic heritage and a platform for spreading contemporary intellectual and literary thought.

Designed in form and content to be three- dimensional: a national library, a public library, and a research library in one. As an advanced digital library, it will allow users immediate access to accurate information. It will provide new generations with the necessary, intellectual tools to read and interpret history correctly,” she added.

After a special presentation marking the inaugural moment, poet Tamim Al-Barghouti gave a speech titled ‘It is still possible’, followed by a film showing QNL’s journey from concept to grand opening, and a speech by the library’s lead architect, Rem Koolhaas, who spoke about the architecture of cultural institutions.

The event continued with a video message featuring numerous library directors from around the world congratulating QNL on its opening. Roly Keating, CEO of the British Library, gave a speech on the importance of libraries; Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, delivered a speech titled ‘Where Bits and Atoms Meet’; and an interactive map showed the 52 countries from which guests were visiting.

Speaking on the occasion, the President of Community Development at Qatar Foundation, Machaille Al-Naimi, said: “It is with great pride that we unveil Qatar National Library to the world - this project reflects Qatar’s vision for the future, and the result of a collective effort to preserve our rich culture and heritage. We are deeply honored to be able to offer a greater insight into the Arab world through our vast collection of resources.”

For his part, the Executive Director of QNL, Dr. Wastawy, said: “We are honored to have His Highness the Emir inaugurate Qatar National Library as the state’s national library, and we thank His Highness and the many other esteemed guests for joining us in celebrating this milestone.

Qatar National Library seeks to be a center of learning not only in Qatar but also internationally. This grand opening, which welcomed more than 700 visitors from Qatar and around the world, demonstrates the continued global importance of libraries in everyday life.”

As a model 21st century library, QNL uses innovative technologies throughout the building to serve all visitors while maintaining the architectural spirit of the structure. An automated people mover system that transports users to the shelf tiers is included in the building.

An integrated automatic book sorting system ensures materials are readily available for circulation once returned. A library for the people the QNL aligns with the new outlook to libraries in the digital age, embracing technology in many of its operations to create within its halls a cognitive, rich space where people can gather, interact and become greater than themselves.

As Qatar continues its unprecedented growth and development, QNL is a beacon of learning locally, regionally and globally, serving as a model library for future generations The state-of-the-art library opened its doors to the public in November 2017 for an experimental period, and since then has welcomed more than 200,000 visitors, and held hundreds of events for visitors of all ages, ranging from early literacy programs for children to research workshops.

The library’s collection includes one million books in English, Arabic, and other languages, complemented by a dedicated Children’s Library and Young Adults collection.

The QNL Heritage Library collection includes rare and valuable items related to Arab and Islamic civilization. Its collection has more than 50,000 items, including manuscripts, early printed books, historical maps, globes, photographs, and scientific instruments. QNL has also developed collaborative partnerships with national libraries, archives, universities and organisations to increase access to cultural and heritage content.

The wide range of subjects in QNL’s collection covers all areas of knowledge including religion, linguistics, cookery, fiction, history, arts and sciences. They have books to fit any group of readers like children, youth, adult and student researchers.

To mark the grand opening a wide range of different events including a series of public lectures, exhibitions are being held over a two-week period.

For more information about QNL, visit

- Compiled by Kiara Reaven

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