20 September 2022

Director of Research Affairs, Learning Services at QNL: We Have Largest, Unique Archive of Documents, Photographs in Gulf Region

    Abeer Al Kuwari, Director of Research and Learning Services at Qatar National Library

Doha, September 20 (QNA) - Qatar Digital Library (QDL) contains the largest digital archive specialized in the history of the Middle East in the world, for documents and photographs, which includes a unique collection of the most important reports, correspondences, manuscripts, maps, historical photographs and audio recordings related to the Gulf region, the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring regions.

Speaking to Qatar News Agency (QNA), Director of Research and Learning Services at Qatar National Library (QNL) Abeer Al Kuwari said that the digital archive of the library also contains deep articles of an elite of professional experts who offer the readers an in-depth look at various topics related to the past of the region and its peoples, pointing out that the number of beneficiaries from the digital archive of QNL this year exceeded 2 millions visitors of the library.

She added that QDL contains thousands of historic photographs since the inception of the photography age and heretofore, including unique charts and images captured by the scientific and heritage missions, in addition to portraits of characters, and other images reflecting the first attempts at photojournalism, unique documentary images covering critical historic events witnessed by the region, such as WWI and WWII, colonial rule and the development of infrastructure of the region, as well as examples of amateur photographs that offer unique perspective on the daily life in the middle east region.

Abeer Al Kuwari showed the extent of the great benefit from the unique collection of the archives of old photographs, as it was the fundamental material utilized in many exhibitions, such as "Arab Immigrants in the US: Pursuing the American Dream" Exhibition from Dec. 2021 until May 2022, exhibition on the beginnings of photography in the Middle East, as well as a unique digital exhibition titled "Arab Cinema Posters: Art and Memory" from Nov. 2020 until Nov. 2021.

Director of Research and Learning Services at QNL noted, in her statements to QNA, that the archive of the old photographs was also used in Exhibitions "Qatar, India and the Gulf: History, Culture and Society", "Gulf Architecture" and "Healthcare in Qatar: Development and Milestones Over 70 Years Exhibition", and 'Syria Under the French Mandate: 19181946' exhibition, as well as The Holy Kaaba Exhibition.

She pointed out that QDL, which was launched in 2014, is the largest digital archive in the world to study the history and culture of Arabian peninsula and the gulf region, where it became as a platform that offers a model in the easy use, which is currently available for free for all countries without exception. It also features a powerful search engine, and contains exquisite images of raw texts as well as maps and photographs with an information index that combines accuracy and efficiency, noting that QDL has made a fundamental change in the approach in which scholars, students and researchers study the history of the Gulf region and science in the Arab world, and became their first reference and means of finding, within a few seconds, what used to take them weeks, months, and perhaps years. 

Director of Research and Learning Services at Qatar National Library (QNL) Abeer Al Kuwari, added in her statement to (QNA), that the Qatar Digital Library (QDL) deals with the history and contemporary heritage of the Greater Gulf region (the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and Iraq), which makes it the ideal destination for scholars who want to research a variety of historical subjects such as: trade practices, the two world wars, oil companies, British colonial administration of the region, treaties and agreements, among other topics. It also contains a rare collection of Arabic and Islamic manuscripts on topics such as: astronomy, mathematics, agriculture, philosophy, music theory, military science, geography, law, chemistry, mechanics, and zoology.

She said that the digital repository at QNL allows all users from around the world to have free access to digitized materials from the heritage library's holdings, in addition to some selections from the collections of its local partners: which provides scholars interested in the Middle East with a rich and informative reference: as there were about 200,000 users of digital content in 2021, including more than 19,000 new users.

Al Kuwari stressed that through its vision, QNL seeks to be one of the worlds distinguished centers of learning, research and culture, as well as a preserver of Qatari and the regions heritage. It also seeks to spark imagination and encourage exploration, as well as to enable citizens and residents alike to positively impact their community: making use of the exceptional environment of learning and exploration that the library offers. Al Kuwari further stressed that the library maintains its unique archive of manuscripts and heritage images through the digitization Center, which has digitized 13 million items: including books, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, archival documents, photographs, slides and posters in Arabic and other languages.

She explained that all QDL materials are available for free viewing and download by all users on the internet all over the world. The librarys materials are accompanied by explanatory notes in Arabic and English, which made it an indispensable reference for researchers and all those interested in the history and heritage of the region. Al Kuwari stressed that the QDL has been, since its launch, highly sought after by researchers, scholars, and members of the general public worldwide: be it for academic or research purposes of public interest.

She added that QDL has proven its vital role in enriching research and studies on the history of the Gulf and the Middle East. The collection of digital documents from the Indian Governments records, available on QDL, has seen an increase in number of reference citations in academic articles and research papers, noting that the QDL has become one of the the most used digital library in the region. So much so that the number of its visitors in 2021 reached 375,000 users: bringing the total users, not counting repeated visits, to more than two million users from 165 countries and 18 territories around the world.

It is worth mentioning that QNL had previously announced the addition of the digital page number two million, and it was published through its electronic portal.



Culture, Qatar
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