Posted on April 18, 2018

Qatar National Library welcomes council of ministers decision on Marrakesh Treaty

Qatar National Library (QNL), has welcomed the recent decision by the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers to give its approval for accession to the Marrakesh Treaty. The treaty allows for copyright exceptions to enable the creation of books and other copyrighted works for visually-impaired and print-disabled persons.

The Marrakesh Treaty, which was adopted in 2013 and forms part of the body of international copyright treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization, has been adopted by 35 countries. “QNL firmly believes that information should be available to everyone as a human right, and we strive to make all of our books and other resources accessible to all. To that end, we are pleased that the Council of Ministers has given its support of the Marrakesh Treaty, which will enable Qatar to work with the international community to realize this goal,” said Dr. Sohair Wastawy, Executive Director, QNL.

Today, QNL launched its Book Club for the Blind, a project that provides social opportunities and promotes equal access to the resources and services of the library. The project aims to share common reading interests, and allows participants to experience the natural connection between reading and communication in unique ways. QNL’s main collection includes materials produced for those with special needs, such as large print books. In collaboration with the MADA Assistive Technology Centre, the library also provides equipment and software, such as scanning pens with headphones and portable video magnifiers, to help visually impaired users. 


QNL lecture to examine Qatar’s historical natural environment

QNL will host a lecture on how the continuously changing natural environment of Qatar defines its past, present, and future, and what that means for similar dry regions around the world, as well as for understanding deserts and water evolution on planets such as Mars. Planetary scientist Dr. Essam Heggy will deliver the lecture, on ‘Understanding Space Exploration and the Natural Forces that Shaped the Qatar Peninsula’, on April 19 at 10am.

Climate evolution has shaped the history of Earth, as well as that of other planets in the solar system. This public lecture will discuss how space exploration is allowing scientists to better understand water and desert evolution on Earth, as well as on several other bodies in the solar system. Notably, Dr. Heggy will discuss how technologies that are being designed to explore water in the solar system benefit from being tested in Earth’s deserts. He will also discuss groundwater evolution in deserts, and how it contributes to changing environmental and societal factors in desert areas.

Dr. Heggy will also address the unique case of the Qatar Peninsula, with its ever-changing coastlines driven by several active natural forces.The eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula may have been one of the first areas to witness important climatic and environmental changes. For instance, Qatar’s early population was unusual in that it may have been one of the few cultures that developed an intuitive scientific heritage associated with both desert and coastal changes. These early inhabitants would have had an intimate understanding of groundwater and sea levels, dune movements, coral reef evolution, and shallow-water navigation, and adapted their daily survival in response to the shifts in each.

“The relationship between a society and its surrounding environment is as much a part of its culture as the music, literature, and art it creates. This lecture will add another dimension to our growing understanding of the history of Qatar and its people, and at the same time help us apply those lessons to the future,” said Dr. Sohair Wastawy, Executive Director, QNL.

Today, Qatar continues to go through unique environmental changes, both natural and man-made, making it a valuable case study for understanding how the natural world defines similar dry environments. The early residents of Qatar had to cope with the sea and the desert, both notoriously shifting ecosystems, and in order to survive they had to develop a deep familiarity with the natural world in which they lived.

Dr. Heggy is a planetary scientist at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, and a ROSETTA co-investigator at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is also a co-investigator in the radar experiments on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, searching for ice at the lunar poles. His research in space and planetary geophysics aims to understand water and ice distributions in Earth’s dry regions, as well as on Mars, the Moon, icy satellites, and near-Earth objects. He is also a contributing scientist to several existing and proposed planetary and terrestrial radar imaging and soundings experiments, and participated in several NASA&European Space Agency (ESA) radar mission concept designs.

The lecture is part of a series of special events celebrating QNL’s grand opening. A full list of activities can be found at


QNL extends partnership with British Library

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, and Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, today signed an agreement that will see QNL begin Phase 3 of its partnership with the British Library. The next phase, which will begin in January 2019, will allow QNL to continue digitizing the British Library’s historical collections on the Arabian Gulf region. The ongoing digitization project, one of the largest of its kind,started in 2012. The first two phases digitized more than 1.5 million pages, which are now accessible on the Qatar Digital Library ( The QDL is a free online digital archive that has had more than 1 million users and 8.8 million page views since its launch in October 2014.

Phase 3 of the project will involve the digitization of 900,000 pages of new material on the Arabian Gulf as well as Arabic manuscripts on science. The Arabian Gulf-related material includes music, maps, ships’ logs, reports, letters, private papers (including the Curzon Papers), and historical publications. QNL Deputy Executive Director for International Relations and Communications, Dr. Stuart Hamilton, said: “Most of the reports and letters we’ve selected for Phase 3 are uncatalogued and were therefore previously inaccessible. They will be new to researchers. Since they form the lion’s share of Phase 3, these documents will shed much new light on the history of Qatar and the Arabian Gulf. We think the public will be especially captivated by the East India Company ships’ logs from the 1600s–1850s. We will digitally map them so that viewers can follow each ship’s journey and see how shipping between the Arabian Gulf, India, and Britain increased in frequency during the Arabian Gulf’s early incorporation into the global economy.”

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said: “One of the British Library’s core purposes is to work with partners around the world to advance knowledge and mutual understanding. Collaborating with Qatar National Library and Qatar Foundation has enabled the British Library to make our collections relating to Arabian Gulf history and Arabic science accessible to hundreds of thousands of users across the world, fostering new areas of research and creativity, and transforming access to these important collections.”

Dr. Sohair Wastawy, Executive Director, QNL,remarked: “Our partnership with the British Library has resulted in one of the largest collections of historical records on the Middle East being placed online. The QDL has been of huge benefit to researchers working on the history of the Arabian Gulf and the history of Arab science. The third phase of our ongoing digitization efforts will allow scholars worldwide access to even more historical material from the British Library, which is sure to foster new and exciting scholarship on these subjects.”