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How to Preserve Qatar’s Cultural Heritage in 5 Easy Steps

03 September 2020
Four large black steel plates spaced out on one path in between two sand dunes
Richard Serra, "East-West/West-East", 2014, Brouq Nature Reserve, Qatar

You’ve probably snapped an awe-inspiring photo of Al Zubarah or Barzan Towers at sunset or posed in front of Richard Serra’s “East-West/West-East” sculpture in Brouq Nature Reserve, but have you ever wondered just what it takes to keep these sites protected? The responsibility for preserving these cultural treasures extends to each and every one of us.

Here are five easy things that you can do to help preserve Qatar’s unique cultural heritage:

1. Visit museums 

Why not try a bit of time travel by visiting your local museum? Journey to the Museum of Islamic Qatar and come face to face with historical civilisations and dynasties, like the Mamluks of Egypt or the Qajars of Iran. Learn about the historic milestones of Qatar at the National Museum of Qatar, where you can explore the hopes and dreams of those who came before you.

Museums promote the understanding of our collective heritage by helping us find inspiration in the achievements of our forefathers. By visiting museums, we can develop a better appreciation for cultural heritage and become motivated to protect and promote it. If you’d like to visit and explore more museums, a Culture Pass membership from Qatar Museums will enable you to enjoy exclusive activities such as behind the scenes access, tours and talks and hands-on workshops related to art, heritage and culture.

 

Two men sit next to each other gazing at a colorful painting with religious motifs
Visitors look at paintings at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

2. Help raise awareness

Our ancestors could never have imagined just how connected the world would become. A world where people from across the globe can engage in dialogue, exchange ideas and celebrate both differences and similarities. Social media is a great way to help promote Qatar’s cultural heritage and to share it with the wider world—whether you're filming your local tourism vlogs and posting them on YouTube or sharing your photos of the country’s most well-known sites on Instagram. If you use social media, don’t forget to tag your posts with #CherishQatar, launched by Qatar Museums so we can follow your efforts. 

 

Three people stand around a vintage Qatari police car taking photos on their iphones
Visitors take photos of vintage cars at the National Museum of Qatar

3. Become a volunteer

Have you ever considered becoming a volunteer? You could take a more hands-on approach to protecting cultural heritage by volunteering with organisations that work in the sector. For example, a few years ago, Qatar Museums launched the Honorary Cultural Ambassador Programme, which invited long-term residents of Qatar to share their passion about the country and its heritage with visitors and VIP guests. Or there’s Doha Environmental Actions Project (DEAP) Qatar, a community-led project that conducts weekly clean-up sessions at beaches and heritage sites around the country.

 

A man bends down to pick trash from the shrubbery at an old village heritage site
Volunteers with Doha Environmental Actions Project (DEAP) at a heritage site clean up

4. Don’t be a vandal! 

Whether it’s a quiet old fishing village or a towering public art piece, heritage sites and monuments are national assets. They foster creativity, enrich lives and contribute to the country’s rapidly developing cultural sector. If you vandalise them in any way—this includes everything from defacing them with graffiti to littering—it’s a criminal offense and an attack on our community. Please respect these treasures and leave them as you’d want to find them.

 

An old and small rectangular building made of clay and stone with the Gulf Sea in the background
A building at Al Mafjar Village, an old abandoned settlement north of Qatar

5. Support your local creators and artisans

Just like our ancestors left us with cultural treasures such as batoolas, henna and wooden dhow boats, a new generation will one day look back at our time to find inspiration.

It’s very important that we all support local artists and those who collect their work, as they both play an essential role towards the development of the Qatari cultural landscape. You can also support artists and creators by buying their products and creations and visiting their exhibitions. To offer its own support this year, the National Museum of Qatar will be hosting a new exhibition, Malawal, the first of its kind and part of the National Museum’s Curatorial programme offer.

In this exhibition, collectors of cultural heritage are invited to showcase their most prized possessions. And with the support of the National Museum, these collectors will be provided with professional and educational guidance in collecting and best practice so that they can continue to grow their collections, which we hope will become nationally and internationally recognised and respected.

 

Two kids watch as an older man in traditional Qatari garb wraps the coil for a pearl diving net
Kids participate in the "Traditional Qatari Workshop" at the National Museum of Qatar

This blog post is part of the #CherishQatar campaign, which aims to promote Qatar’s cultural heritage. Stay tuned for our monthly contribution as we explore the different facets of our country’s rich past!

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