Posted on December 01, 2014

Qatar University (QU) yesterday hosted a ceremony to launch a special exhibition “The Beauty of Islamic Manuscripts – the Leiden Collection” in cooperation with the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands to Qatar. Held under the patronage of H.E. Dr Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Qatar Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, the exhibition is an initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the curator of the collection at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, The Netherlands, Dr Luit Mols.

The exhibition, which will run from December 1 to 17, marks the 400th anniversary of Arabic studies at Leiden University and the collection bears witness to the rich historical bonds between the Arab and Islamic world and The Netherlands. It aims to give the audience in Qatar, especially youth, the opportunity to explore historically-significant Islamic manuscripts and other works. At the ceremony held at QU Library, QU President Prof Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad joined The Netherlands Ambassador H.E. Yvette Burghgraef-van Eechoud and Minister Al-Kuwari and launched the exhibition in front of an audience comprising members of QU leadership and officials from the diplomatic and government sectors.

The evening’s program included a special lecture and guided tour by Dr Mols.

Commenting on the event, Minister Al-Kuwari, said: “Cultural heritage is one of the basic pillars of Qatar’s development, in line with the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030. This exhibition is a celebration of a strong relationship between Qatar, the Arab Islamic world and The Netherlands. It is an opportunity to promote good will and friendship among us, and to present to our young people the beauty and importance of their cultural heritage. I thank Qatar University and the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands for organizing this event which enhances the links between Islamic and western cultures.”

Prof Al-Misnad said: “Qatar University is pleased to partner with the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in organizing this educational and cultural event which will contribute to enriching dialogue between western and Islamic cultures. This exhibition will serve to deepen the knowledge of the community about its rich Islamic heritage, and as such is very much in line with QU’s commitment to promoting its strong Arabic identity. I hope students will come in their numbers with their families and friends to be part of this historical and cultural event and share this opportunity to enhance their Islamic values and deepen their understanding of their heritage.”

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Ambassador Burghgraef-van Eechoud said: “This exhibition is the result of the excellent cooperation with Qatar University and the Minister of Culture. We feel extremely honored that we can host a collection of the Leiden University library here in its sister library of Qatar University. This is another milestone in the bilateral cooperation in the cultural and academic fields between Qatar and The Netherlands. Academic cooperation is not only important for science. It is also a valuable bridge between civilizations and people.”

College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) dean Dr Eiman Mustafawi said: “The impact of the Leiden collections is profound by all means and provides insight for diverse fields of study from history to linguistics, law to geography.  As the College of Arts and Sciences is home to related undergraduate and graduate programs in history, Arabic, and Gulf studies, it is an honor for us to witness the temporary return of these featured reproductions to the cultural context from which they originated.”

Visitors to the exhibition will view 41 reproductions focused on five themes -- Qur’an calligraphy, depictions of Mecca and Medina, scientific works, and illustrated works of prose and poetry. The fifth theme shows the exchange of decorative motifs between different fields of art and the interconnectivity of designs between the art of the book, the minor arts and architecture. The exhibition will run until December 17 for the public. It will be re-located to CAS Women’s Building where it will run from December 21 to January 1 for the benefit of QU female students and female members of the public.

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