British Library and Qatar National Library extend partnership to digitise 900,000 more images of Gulf history

Early 20th-century manuscript of a treatise on physiognomy and chiromancy (Or. 12669, ff. 2v-3r)
Around 900,000 images of India Office Records, Arabic scientific manuscripts, maps and sound recordings to be made available through the Qatar Digital Library, adding to 1.5 million images already online

The British Library, the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and the Qatar National Library are extending their partnership to digitise a vast range of important historical collections relating to the Gulf region.

The partnership began in 2012 and the extension, which takes the project into a third phase, will now last until December 2021 and will significantly expand a bilingual website of Gulf history and Arabic scientific manuscripts: the Qatar Digital Library (www.qdl.qa).

900,000 more images of historical material related to the Gulf will be digitised in addition to the 1.5 million images already made available online by the partnership. The Gulf-related material includes music, maps, ships’ logs, reports, letters, private papers (including the Curzon Papers), and historical publications. It also draws upon the British Library’s exceptionally rich collections of Arabic scientific manuscripts.

Researchers, academics, historians and the wider public across the Gulf and around the world will be able to delve deeper into the history of the Gulf region and explore a wealth of material, available in Arabic and English, on the website. Since going live in October 2014, the Qatar Digital Library website has had more than 1 million users and nearly 9 million page views.

Speaking at the official opening of Qatar National Library, 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 the Qatar National Library and Qatar Foundation has enabled the British Library to make our collections relating to 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 on-going 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.”


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Notes to Editors

For more information on the Qatar National Library please contact:

Gihan M. Baraka

Communications Manager

Telephone: +974 4454 6034

Email: gbaraka@qf.org.qa

Menna Nayel

Media Relations Manager

Cell Phone: +974 33531316

Email: mennah@bljworldwide.com

The Qatar National Library (QNL), a member of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, acts as a steward of Qatar’s national heritage by collecting, preserving and making available the country’s recorded history. In its role as a research library with a preeminent heritage collection, the QNL fosters and promotes greater global insight into the history and culture of the Gulf region. As a public library, the QNL provides equal access for all Qatari residents to an environment that supports creativity, independent decision-making and cultural development. Through all its functions, QNL provides leadership to the country’s library and cultural heritage sector. www.qnl.qa

Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development (QF) is a private, non-profit organization that is supporting Qatar on its journey from carbon economy to knowledge economy by unlocking human potential for the benefit of not only Qatar, but the world. Founded in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Amir of Qatar, QF is chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.

QF carries out its mission through three strategic pillars: education, science and research, and community development. QF’s education pillar brings world-class universities to Qatar to help create an education sector in which young people can develop the attitudes and skills required for a knowledge economy. Meanwhile, its science and research pillar builds Qatar's innovation and technology capacity by developing and commercializing solutions through key sciences. Finally, its community development pillar helps foster a progressive society while also enhancing cultural life, protecting Qatar’s heritage and addressing immediate social needs in the community. www.qf.org.qa


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Ben Sanderson
The British Library
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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.