Qatar National Library (QNL) was honoured to welcome His Royal Highness Prince Charles The Prince of Wales to its Arab and Islamic Heritage Collection on Thursday, during his latest official visit to Qatar.
HRH Prince Charles joins a growing number of high-profile guests and dignitaries from all over the world who have viewed the impressive Heritage Collection.
QNL Project Director Dr Claudia Lux accompanied Prince Charles on his visit and highlighted some of the Heritage Collection’s most prized artefacts.
“We are honoured by the visit of Prince Charles to the Qatar National Library’s Arab and Islamic Heritage Collection as it reinforces QNL’s vision of bridging cultures with knowledge,” she said. “This collection is one of the most important aspects of Qatar’s cultural landscape as it showcases the depth and richness of Arab-Islamic civilisation. We are therefore delighted to showcase this valuable trove of heritage and cultural items,” she added.
Amongst the artefacts viewed by Prince Charles was the oldest map in the collection, and one of the oldest in existence to mention Qatar. Dating from 1478, it is based on the work of 2nd century CE astronomer, mathematician and geographer Claudius Ptolemaeus. A New Testament Bible, printed in Aleppo, Syria in 1706 and the first in the region to have been written in Arabic, was also displayed. Prince Charles was also shown an early script of the Holy Qur’an by Abraham Hinckelmann, published in Hamburg in 1694. Hinckelmann (1652-1695) was a German Protestant theologian and orientalist, who first printed the Holy Qur’an by letterpress in the original Arabic.
His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammad bin Ali Al Thani founded the Heritage Collection in 1979, and it now provides unparalleled contribution of historical sources about Qatar and the region. It includes writings by travelers and explorers who visited the Arabian Gulf region over the centuries, Arab manuscripts, historical maps and globes, as well as scientific instruments and early photography.
The Heritage Collection also features up to 2400 precious manuscripts, among them ‘Mushafs’ (Holy Qur’an) and Arabic literature, with a primary focus on sciences such as geography, astronomy, mathematics and others. This is complemented by artefacts from the early European reception (early prints in Latin from the 15th – 17th c.), such as the famous “Canon” of Avicenna (Ibn Sina).
QNL is a non-profit organisation under the umbrella of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. Its Heritage Collection Building is open to the public for tours every Sunday and Tuesday from 10.00am – 11.30am. For information about registering for a tour, visit www.qnl.qa/visit-request-form.
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Gihan M. Baraka
Qatar National Library