Posted on November 23, 2018

Building on the outstanding public response at the recently held exhibition at the Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta - Malta, The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue, a traveling cross-cultural exhibition that features a collection of the Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum - a unique assembly of artefacts reflecting the interaction of civilizations in the past while encouraging dialogue in the present – continues its global touring showcase by landing at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on November 29th.

The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue has been organized at the initiative of the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum, in collaboration with the UNESCO Doha Office, the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, and Qatar Museums. The exhibition’s next stop will be UNESCO Headquarters in Paris presented under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, and Her Excellency Mme. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO. With the Platinum sponsorship of Qatar Shell and local sponsorships of QNB and Refalo & Zammit Pace Advocates, the exhibition will have a duration of two weeks before moving forward to other venues.

This diverse cultural exhibition recreates the atmosphere of the majlis—the space of hospitality and dialogue present in homes throughout the Arabian Gulf—offering guests the opportunity to exchange ideas about how much common ground exists between different cultures, and how these commonalities have been expressed in technology, art and culture.

Showcasing an exceptional collection that reflects the beauty that has resulted from centuries of intercultural dialogue, the exhibition aims to drive visitors to sit in the majlis to listen to stories and engage in conversations on what they see, discover and experience in the displays. Objects of great beauty and deep fascination including Chinese Qurans, mosque lamps made in Vienna, Persian carpets with Russian texts featuring the Virgin Mary, and mystic artefacts shared from Africa across the Arab world to India, will be seen at the exhibition and will speak to each guest differently, triggering a diversification of thoughts and emotions.

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Commenting on this occasion, H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Bin Faisal Al Thani, said: “The tangible, intangible and documentary heritage of all people – their artefacts, handicrafts, arts and songs – are central to the existence of a cultured and civilized dialogue among nations. We hope that by sharing objects which connect peoples with their past we are keeping alive history, culture and traditions and highlighting how different cultures have much more commonalities than differences amongst them.”

Along with a programme of conferences and educational activities, the display is designed to encourage visitors to respond to what they see and to share their own stories, creating dialogue between East and West, between young and old, within a real majlis seating. The majlis proved to be the perfect setting to host the “United in Dialogue, Interfaith Consultation” an event recently organized by Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta, with over 12 religious groupings, to build a collaborative declaration for United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week 2019.

From her part, Dr. Anna Paolini, Director of UNESCO Doha Office, said: "The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue in Paris will be a good opportunity to showcase the crucial role and importance that museums play in the field of cultural dialogue and knowledge sharing. Visitor to the exhibition will be able to learn through objects and practices linked to their use, how interconnected the world has always been and how these exchanges are still enriching our lives. Artefacts from the past could become our best Ambassadors to remind us the power and strength coming from embracing diversity and respecting each other cultural practices and beliefs. The objects exposed are the examples of what human creativity could reach if open to the other and I hope be also an inspiration of peace and tolerance.”

Dr. Hamda Al-Sulaiti, Secretary-General of the Qatar National Committee for Education, Science and Culture, commented: “Such exhibitions are the cornerstones of cultural ties between people and offer greater insights into others rich heritage. ‘The Majlis - Cultures in Dialogue’ is a great way to project our key objectives of promoting and sustaining diversity promoting cultural dialogue among peoples of the world. This event would also act as a powerful communication tool that transcend beyond boundaries and spread peace around the world.”

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From his part, His Excellency Sheikh Nawaf bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, Chairman of Katara Hospitality said: "We are honored to partner with ‘The Majlis-Cultures in Dialogue’ of Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum in its first edition in Paris, which serves the same values of Katara Hospitality's in creating emotional connection through crafted unique experiences for guests and visitors. The Majlis-Cultures in Dialogue has demonstrated that State of Qatar, with its rich culture, spiritual values, great achievements in all sectors including education, science and economics, has made an immeasurable contribution to the development of generations to come. With this taking place in Paris which is known for its dense cultural and artistic network, museums, architecture and history; We believe it is the perfect platform to create unique cultural landscape with one of the most mutual tools for the enhancement of intercultural dialogue and reconciliation."

Highlighting the importance of the initiative, Mr. Andrew Faulkner, Chairman and Managing Director, Qatar Shell Companies, noted: “Qatar Shell is honored to be the platinum sponsor of The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue, organized by the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum. This initiative shows Qatar’s commitment to promoting outreach, openness and integration through the nation’s cultural heritage, while also linking this heritage to those of other peoples and civilizations”. He added: “Shell has strong ties and deep roots in Qatar. We are happy to support the nation’s future by delivering positive, impactful benefits through innovative economic, educational and social programs. In so doing, we are contributing to the long-term progress of a sustainable, independent nation”.

The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue is a visitor’s experience that reveals how global perspectives can vary depending on the position of the viewer. It is only the beginning of a much bigger project to connect people, beliefs and cultures by creating opportunities for respectful, yet incisive dialogues to take place. Following Paris, the exhibition will visit several European countries, including Austria, Germany, Spain, Turkey, and the UK. The tour will also include the United States by 2021.