Posted on July 26, 2011

Located on the western coast of the Arabian Gulf in Qatar, the culture village of Katara was built to reflect the diverse cultures around the world.

Katara is a historical name for the Qatari Peninsula that appeared in ancient manuscripts and maps. The village was the brainchild of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who wanted to turn Qatar into a multicultural centre in the Middle East. It first opened during the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in October 2010.

Ibrahim al-Ali, a Qatari engineer who worked on the Katara project, described the village as "the outcome of a cultural and architectural vision that sought inspiration from Arab and international cultures and merged them with Qatari heritage to create an architecture and a design that combine several cultures in one place."

Katara consists of a massive amphitheatre, an opera house, a cinema, a theatre and event halls for various celebrations. It also has a tourist beach, a market for handicraft products, book stores, international restaurants, coffee shops, and a mosque. Al-Ali added, "We strived to combine what some would call a contrast of styles. We combined ancient and contemporary architecture as well as the architecture of civilisations that erased the civilisations that preceded them."

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Haya Al-Imadi, who works in the supervision division inside the cultural village, said, "This village is a pioneering idea to combine all the world's cultures in one place." She told Al-Shorfa, "Katara is not just a place for theatres or an opera house or any other facility. It is an interactive village that offers facilities that people might have difficulty finding elsewhere."

Many government agencies and associations are located in the cultural village including the Qatar Society of Engineers, the Childhood Cultural Centre, the Qatar Photographic Society, the Visual Art Centre, and the Qatar Music Academy.

Talal al-Rabhi, an employee with the Qatar Society of Engineers, told Al-Shorfa, "The location is suitable for work and for outings. It overlooks the sea and is home to a number of beautiful buildings, let alone the harmony that exists, which you do not sense outside the cultural village." He added, "Ever since the Qatar Society of Engineers moved to the cultural village, I began to enjoy going to work. Here you are surrounded by the sea, the sun and beautiful buildings."

Since its opening, Katara hosted several cultural and literary festivals as well as workshops and training sessions in various fields. Some notable events included the International Handicraft Market, the Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Programme for Reading, and an International Day Against Drugs.


by Nasser ElGhanem

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