Posted on October 04, 2018

Qatar Museums (QM) and University College London in Qatar (UCL Qatar) have announced a ground-breaking partnership that will deliver a new legal framework for cultural heritage for the State of Qatar, helping move the country forward towards realising the ambitions of the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030).

QM, the leading cultural authority in Qatar, and UCL Qatar have worked successfully together for several years, but this new partnership is set to be one of the most significant yet. In the coming months, senior leaders from both institutions will draw on internal and external expertise from organisations like UNESCO with the aim of modernising cultural heritage laws currently protected under the Law on Antiquities, No.2, which was published in 1980.

Under the visionary guidance of QM Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the project will further protect and promote Qatar’s history and culture. By bringing the existing legal framework into line with internationally recognised standards, the new comprehensive law will strengthen Qatar’s relations with global institutions, enhancing the country’s reputation as a leading cultural centre in the region and internationally.

In developing the framework, QM and UCL Qatar will be examining multiple facets of heritage protection best practice, including taking a detailed look at four key areas:

  • Defining and providing a mechanism towards establishing privately owned museums, which will provide a major boost to Qatar’s cultural tourism offer.
  • Delivering the means to provide immunity from seizure to artefacts and antiques during movement in and out of the State.
  • Modernising the legislation pertaining to archaeology and excavation.
  • Rephrasing the processes related to QM in such areas pertaining to movement of cultural property, heritage registration and custodianship.

Furthermore, the framework will draft regulations to define how heritage is protected and preserved in cases of natural disasters or man-made damage. It will also deliver a blueprint for a new Competent Authority for the State of Qatar. This new Authority will operate within QM and entrusted to oversee the implementation and monitoring of the law, in coordination with other relevant government agencies.

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The project was inaugurated at a two-day workshop this week in the presence of Mr. Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al Mahmoud, Special Advisor to QM Chairperson, Mr. Ahmad Al Namla, Acting CEO at QM, Dr. Sam Evans Director of UCL Qatar, representatives of Qatari Government entities, Qatar National Library, UNESCO, and international experts from the University of Siena and University of Geneva. The first day focused on developing a shared definition of different types of heritage relevant to Qatar and examined recent developments in heritage protection. The second explored the range of legal protection for heritage, such as the illicit trafficking of cultural property and protection of heritage during armed conflict.

Mr. Ahmad Al Namla, Acting CEO at Qatar Museums, said: “Qatar is an ambitious and fast developing country, one that is embracing change and progress in a way that is right for our people and respects our past. This project is aimed at modernising the existing heritage legislation, so that we can maximise the social and social-economic benefits of arts and culture. It will ensure we continue to be a leading cultural centre, not just in the region but globally. We look forward to working with Government stakeholders in the coming months and drawing on the unrivalled expertise of the UCL team.”

Commenting on the collaboration, Sam Evans, Director of UCL Qatar, said: “UCL was invited to Qatar in 2010 by Qatar Foundation to develop cultural heritage programmes that help realise the tangible and intangible value of the county’s investment in arts and culture. Over the last eight years, QM has been a pivotal partner for UCL in this task. We’re incredibly proud to be working with them yet again on such an important national initiative; an initiative that is paramount to protecting and promoting Qatar’s heritage and delivering the Qatar National Vision 2030.”