Doha: Qatar Digital Library (QDL) has the world’s largest digital archive specializing in Middle Eastern history, said Qatar National Library (QNL) Director of Research and Learning Services Abeer Al Kuwari.
In a recent interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Al Kuwari said the archive contains documents and photographs, including a unique collection of the most important reports, correspondence, manuscripts, maps, historical photographs and audio recordings related to the Gulf region, Arabian Peninsula and adjacent regions.
“The archive also contains unique articles by an elite of professional experts, offering readers an in-depth look at various topics related to the past of the region and its peoples,” she said, noting that the number of beneficiaries of the digital archive is high sei from QNL has surpassed 2 million visits to the library this year.
She added that QDL contains thousands of historical photographs since the dawn of the photographic age, including unique maps and images taken by scientific and historical missions. In addition, it includes character portraits and other images that reflect the first attempts at photojournalism, unique documentary images that cover important historical events witnessed by the region, such as the First and Second World Wars, colonial rule and the development of the infrastructure of the Region as examples of amateur photography offering a unique perspective on daily life in the Middle East region.
Al Kuwari highlighted the importance of the unique collection of old photographs, which includes being the foundational material for many exhibitions, such as the Arab Immigrants in the US: Pursuing the American Dream exhibition running from December 2021 to May 2022 An exhibition on the beginnings of photography in the Middle East was held, as well as a unique digital exhibition entitled “Arab Cinema Posters: Art and Memory”, which will take place from November 2020 to November 2021.
The QNL official said the archive of old photographs was also used during the exhibition “Qatar, India and the Gulf: History, Culture and Society”, “Gulf Architecture”, “Healthcare in Qatar: Development and Milestones Over 70 Years Exhibition”. Exhibitions “Syria under the French Mandate: 1918-1946” and the exhibition “The Holy Kaaba”.
She said QDL, launched in 2014, created an easy-to-use platform that is currently available for free for all countries without exception.
“It also has a powerful search engine and contains exquisite images of raw text, as well as maps and photos, with an information index that combines accuracy and efficiency,” she said.
She noted that QDL has fundamentally changed the approach by which scholars, students and researchers study the history of the Gulf region and scholarship in the Arab world, becoming in seconds their number one reference and way to find them, for what it used to take weeks, months and maybe years.