HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser views materials as part of her visit to the British Library in London. Her visit marked a milestone in a project that will digitise over 500,000 pages of historical material relating to the Gulf region, in co-operation with the Qatar National Library.
HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), yesterday visited the British Library in London in connection with an ongoing project to digitise more than 500,000 pages of historical material relating to the Gulf region.
A collaboration between the British Library and the Qatar National Library (QNL), this is a landmark project for the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture, through which both Qataris and Britons have the opportunity to celebrate their shared history.
To date, the project has processed over 85,000 pages of unique archive material that illustrate the Gulf region’s rich history. Similar projects are underway in Holland, France and Turkey but Britain’s close historical ties with the region provide a rich archive for future historians to study with 475,000 pages from the India Office Records and 25,000 pages of medieval Arabic manuscripts digitised and made accessible online for the first time.
HH Sheikha Moza said: “It is essential that we preserve and treasure our past. Our partnership with the British Library has already helped us to shed light on the Gulf region’s fascinating history and culture. This vast wealth of information now at our disposal and available digitally to future generations, will undoubtedly enrich and enhance our understanding of Middle East history, allowing us to further develop an appreciation of our history and culture.”
Roly Keating, chief executive of the British Library, said: “We are honoured to host Sheikha Moza at the British Library and show her the considerable progress which has been made by our partnership’s highly specialised curators, digitisation and conservation experts in the last ten months. This partnership will enable our collection items to be shared on an international scale with academics, researchers and those who have an interest in the history of the Gulf region, and further demonstrates the shared vision between both organisations to contribute to the advancement of knowledge across the world.”
During the visit, curators presented HH Sheikha Moza with several noteworthy collection items, including a beautifully illustrated copy of a text on cosmography and natural history, various maps of the region and the earliest recorded copy of Archimides’ treatise on water-clocks.
QNL, a state-of-the-art facility offering multimedia archive resources, and a member of QF, is due to open its doors next year. More than 40 staff members, representing a range of disciplines, are working together to digitise over 500,000 pages of valuable material stored at the British Library relating to the Gulf region, at a rate of 1,500 images a day.
The objective is to create the world’s finest online resource of Gulf history by bringing to life aspects of the region’s historical advancements in science, geography, and politics.
From early 2014, tens of thousands of prized documents will be available online, complemented by scholarly articles that place the material in a historical context.
During the visit, HH Sheikha Moza met with two Qatari women who are part of the digitisation team.
“I feel proud that I can take part in this awareness and partnership that is aligned to Qatar’s vision, which aims to preserve the nation’s heritage and enhance Arab and Islamic values and identity,” said Samia Hassan al-Shiba.
Her colleague, Aysha Hassan al-Ansari, echoed this view. “I feel excited and in love with what I do,” she said. “I had the chance to represent Qatari women, the Qatari younger generation, and express the depth and richness of Arab-Islamic civilisations through exhibitions and by putting special collections together. I found it interesting to talk about my country’s history, culture and traditions.”
Reported by: Caye Global News, Gulf Times
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