The 10th Annual Gulf Studies Forum, held by the Arab Center in Doha from 2-4 December 2023, came underway in Doha on Saturday 2 December. At the end of the first day’s proceedings, Minister of Culture of the State of Qatar Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al Thani took part in a dialogue session chaired by Abdulrahman Albaker, collaborating researcher at the ACRPS Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies Unit.
At the start of the session, the Minister indicated that Qatari society has a well-established relationship with culture. He mentioned several of the State’s long standing cultural institutions such as Dar Al Kutub Al Qatariya, which the Minister argued is one of the most important publishing houses in the Arab world.
Next, the Minister spoke about the ministry’s role in overseeing the organization of the cultural space. He stressed that culture is dynamic, not static: it affects and is affected by its surroundings. Al Thani argued that there is a collective responsibility borne not only by the Ministry of Culture but also by Qatari society and other state ministries.
Al Thani stated that Qatari identity is a component of Arab-Islamic identity – derived from it, affected by it, and exerting influence on it – but that each identity has its own character that sets it apart from others. He contended that Qatar takes pride in its culture, as was readily apparent the moment that Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani placed a Qatari bisht on the shoulders of Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi at the World Cup trophy ceremony. Relatedly, the Minister spoke of cultural diplomacy and its role in strengthening the foreign relations of states, especially Qatar, as a means of articulating the State’s vision abroad and changing stereotypes that may be unflattering.
The Minister pointed out that the Ministry of Culture has organized numerous events to engage with the reality that Qatari society is home to a diverse array of immigrant communities. He affirmed that these groups have every right to take pride in their culture and identity, then stressed the importance of being open to other cultures as a means of intellectual and cultural enrichment.
Al Thani concluded the dialogue session by highlighting the Ministry of Culture’s role in organizing events around 17 points of focus that relate to several cultural sectors, especially those involving reading and writing and the upbringing of younger generations. The Minister mentioned the Ministry of Culture’s annual season of symposia and noted the significance of the ACRPS’s involvement in hosting several of these events. The Arab Center, Al Thani contended, will remain engraved in the collective memory of the Qatari people, and has made its mark on the legacy of Qatari culture.
* To read about day one of the forum clik here.