Qatar National Library artist’s impression. Image Qatar National Library site.

The building was designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. The opening is scheduled for 2014.

The Arab and Islamic Heritage Collections are among the most important aspects of Qatar’s cultural landscape, expressing the depth and richness of Arab-Islamic civilization. They demonstrate the huge contribution made by Arab and Muslim scholars to the world history of human thought. This cultural heritage goes beyond linguistic and religious works, encompassing the full range of sciences with an open and universal approach. Similarly, this rare and invaluable collection seeks to reach out to people from all walks of life, keeping alive the Arab and Islamic civilization and its role in the World’s cultural heritage.

The collection began with Sheikh Hassan Bin Muhammad Al Thani in the early 1980s. He wanted to make available the wealth of historical sources about Qatar, including writings by travellers and explorers who visited the Arabian Gulf region. This vision developed to incorporating all rare and valuable texts and manuscripts related to Arab-Islamic civilization. Preparations are underway to relocate this collection in its own purpose-built location within the new Qatar National Library at Education City.

The collection comprises two main parts. The Arab Collection contains over 75,000 works, including manuscripts and books on numerous fields of knowledge. The Foreign Collection contains over 25,000 works, including books, periodicals and maps that reveal the extent to which European Orientalists, travellers and explorers were fascinated by the Arab-Islamic cultural heritage. The earliest documents date back to the mid 15th century A.D. Work is currently underway to enlarge the collection into a rich resource for research and academic study.


Written by: Neil Last modified: 7th Nov 2012