Qatar, UK library project to digitise more than 1m documents

Partnership between Qatar Foundation, Qatar National Library and British Library enters second phase
Qatar, UK library project to digitise more than 1m documents
An artists impression of the new Qatar National Library.
By Staff writer
Sat 24 Jan 2015 02:08 AM

Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), Qatar National Library (QNL) and the British Library have announced the second phase of their ongoing partnership to make the history of the Gulf more accessible.

The next stage of the collaboration, which will last until December 2018, follows on from the initial partnership announced in 2012 which aims to raise awareness of Gulf and Middle Eastern history.

Phase two will see the digitisation of 1,125,000 pages of rare, historical documents that will be shared with the public through QNL's online Qatar Digital Library in a bid to significantly enhance current understanding of the Islamic world, Arab culture and the Gulf's regional history.

Qatar Foundation said its mission is to foster a progressive, engaged society that is appreciative of its heritage and traditions, and interested in furthering learning and knowledge in support of the nation's priorities as set out in Qatar National Vision 2030.

The second phase will focus on digitizing historical documents from Britain's Indian Office Archive including papers of the Political and Secret Department, political and military records, letters, photographs, maps and medieval manuscripts relating to Gulf and Arab regional history.

Building on the success of the first phase, the Qatar Digital Library will add an additional 970,000 pages from the India Office Records dating from the mid-18th century to 1951 as well as historical maps and photographs.

Further highlights will include 56,000 pages of Arab Islamic Sciences manuscripts, and approximately 100,000 pages from private papers including those of Lady Anne Blunt, thought to be the first woman to cross the Arabian Desert in the 19th century.

Following digitisation, the material will be added to the Qatar Digital Library which originated out of the first phase of the partnership and was launched last October.

Saad Al Muhannadi, president of Qatar Foundation, said: "This planned new material will preserve and add rich new insights into the history of Qatar, the Gulf region and Arab and Islamic history and culture.

This project is a testament to the commitment of QF to fostering greater understanding of Qatar's heritage, and to sharing this precious collection of resources with the whole world."

Dr Claudia Lux, project director of QNL, added: "The aim of this partnership is to explore, and raise awareness about the history of the Gulf and the wider region while creating one of the world's most ambitious and accessible resources for studies into Gulf History and Arab Islamic Sciences."

Roly Keating, chief executive of the British Library, said: "Extending our relationship with the Qatar Foundation and Qatar National Library now enables us to now to convert the huge wealth of stored knowledge at the British Library into shared knowledge that is accessible anywhere in the world."

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