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National Museum of Qatar

Qatar Museums/Twitter

National Museum of Qatar

As work continues on the long-awaited National Museum of Qatar, a select group of 20 nationals took the first in a short series of “behind-the-scenes” tours around the site this week.

Chosen from more than 500 Qataris who applied, the bloggers and photographers were given a guided visit of the inside and outside of the new museum.

Further tours will be held this weekend and continue through next month, but for now are restricted to Qataris, Culture Pass holders and university students, Qatar Museums said.

Slots to visits filled up within two days after the application process opened a week ago.

Yesterday, QM posted short film clips of its inaugural tour on Instagram and Facebook, showing the group dressed in hard-hats and high-visibility vests.

In a short online interview, photographer Mohammed A. Kamal, who took yesterday’s tour, described the building’s design as “inspiring” while another female visitor said the structure ” encapsulates the essence of Qatar’s past and present.”

Specialist groups have also been given access to the museum site recently. Late last month, civil and architectural engineering students from Qatar University toured the inside and top of the structure.

Photographs issued then show expanses of interlocking discs, designed by architect Jean Nouvel to reflect the natural phenomenon of the desert rose.

The discs make up the complex roof and sides of the buildings, and sections of the interior also appear to be nearing completion.

Opening date

QM has been quiet about its construction progress and has not publicly given any update on when the museum is expected to be complete.

Two years ago, the authority said the building would open in 2016. However, construction is still underway and a representative previously said that once the building is complete, it needs six months for the cement “off-gassing,” or the release of emissions trapped inside the facility, to occur.

National Museum of Qatar

Qatar Museums/Twitter

National Museum of Qatar

Installation of the artworks would take another year after that, the spokesperson added at the time.

Once complete, the 40,000 sq meter structure will include 8,000 sq meters of permanent exhibition space and a further 2,000 sq meters for temporary, rotating exhibitions. There will also be a 220-seat auditorium, two restaurants and a cafe, two shops, a food forum, a research center and laboratories and a park with indigenous plants, QM said.

QM Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani said last year that part of the museum’s remit would be to capture some of the oral history of Qatar, and that it would accept donations of items for display from members of the community.

Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Alex Gill/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The first draft of the poem that forms the lyrics of Qatar’s anthem has been donated to the country’s national museum.

The “iconic” artifact, along with the pen used to write it, will be displayed alongside other exhibits that will demonstrate the bond between the people of Qatar and their leaders, Qatar Museums (QM) said in a statement this week.

Under-construction National Museum (in 2014)

Damon McDonald/Flickr

Under-construction National Museum (in 2014)

The under-construction Qatar National Museum, built to resemble a desert rose and located near the junction of the Corniche and Ras Abou Aboud Street, is scheduled to open next year.

“The poem means a lot to Qatari citizens, and by exhibiting this poem in the National Museum of Qatar, we aim to honor it and emphasise its importance as a part of Qatar history which will resonate in the present as well as in future generations,” said QM’s acting CEO Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al Mahmoud in a statement.

The donation came from the Qatari poet who penned the verses, Sheikh Mubarak bin Saif Al Thani, who is one of the inaugural recipients of Qatar’s Order of Merit and was recently honored as a “source of pride” for the country.

History

Qatar’s national anthem was adopted following the official inauguration of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani as Emir after he deposed his father in a bloodless coup, according to a brief history published by the government’s security surveillance department (NSS).

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Xavier Bouchevreau/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Titled Al-Salam Al-Amiri (Peace to the Emir), the anthem features music by Abdul Aziz Nasser Obaidan and was first played on Dec. 7, 1996, during a summit of GCC leaders held in Doha.

In 2012, I Love Qatar founder Khalifa Saleh Al Haroon challenged his Twitter and Facebook followers to try to find out how many Qatar residents knew the country’s national anthem.

The results of the informal poll found that 87 percent of Qataris knew their national anthem by heart, while 51 percent of expats could hum at least a few bars of the tune.

According to Qatar legal portal Al Meezan, in English the lyrics translate to:

Swearing by God who erected the sky
Swearing by God who spread the light
Qatar will always be free
Sublimed by the spirit of the sincere
Proceed thou on the manners of the ascendants
And advance by the guiding light of the Prophets
Qatar in my heart is a legacy,
Qatar is an epic of glory and dignity
Qatar is land of the foremost men
Who protect us at time of distress,
Doves they can be at times of peace,
Warriors they are at times of sacrifice.

In an analysis of the anthem, the NSS said the words emphasize a strong historical connection between the residents of the modern nation-state and their ancestors.

One of the first known photographs of Doha, circa 1904.

Hermann Burchardt / Facebook

One of the first known photographs of Doha, circa 1904.

Opening with a strong oath to God, the anthem states that Qatar’s glory comes from the souls of its faithful and loyal people.

It then highlights the commitment among Qatar’s people to march forward on the same course as their ancestors, illuminated by the virtuous light of the prophets, and asserts that no one can destroy the pride and glory of Qatar in the heart of its people.

The anthem closes by reasserting that the men of modern Qatar are the defenders of the country’s soil and dignity, just like their forefathers who guarded Qatar in conflict and were leaders in all fields.

Lasting legacy

Sheikh Mubarak’s donation comes as the poet’s work is finding new audiences abroad.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

ictQATAR/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Earlier this month, Qatar’s Ministry of Culture paid tribute to Sheikh Mubarak by publishing a scholarly study of his work in Arabic as well as a French translation of his poetry.

At a launch ceremony, Hamad bin Abdulaziz al Kuwari – Qatar’s minister of culture, arts and heritage – highlighted Sheikh Mubarak’s lasting presence and influence through his poetry that remains the subject of literary study in local schools, according to coverage of the event in the Qatar Tribune.

Sheikh Mubarak was in ill health and unable to attend the ceremony, the newspaper added.

Thoughts?

Under-construction National Museum (in 2014)

Damon McDonald/Flickr

Under-construction National Museum (in 2014)

Qataris who wish to have a say in the branding of one of the country’s most iconic structures have been invited to participate in a logo-making contest for the under-construction National Museum.

The “Leave your mark” contest is being run by Qatar Museums, which said in a statement:

“The new logo and visual identity aims to incorporate aspects of heritage and innovation. We believe it is vital that the museum is recognized as an international cultural destination…

We want to create a brand that is a true reflection of the New National Museum of Qatar which will act as a personified image of Qatar and the future without relinquishing the heritage and traditions of the past.”

Rendering of National Museum

QM

Rendering of National Museum

All entries for the challenge, which is open to individuals living in Qatar who are 18 years and older, must be submitted by Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Designs will be judged by QM chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa and National Museum director Sheikha Amna, as well as senior executive members of QM.

The winner will be announced on Sept. 29, and will travel to London for two weeks in October to work with design firm Pentagram on finalizing the logo from the initially submitted concept.

See here for a full list of terms and conditions.

National Museum

Qatar’s National Museum is tentatively scheduled to open next year.

Restored palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani

QM

Restored palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani

Earlier this summer, QM announced that a landmark palace that is the centerpiece of the museum was successfully restored.

Home to the former ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, the structure is located in the heart of the museum, which is across from the Corniche near the Museum of Islamic Art.

When completed, the museum is expected to look like a desert rose that appears to grow out of the ground and represent Qatar’s “past, present and future.”

Thoughts?