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Posts tagged as Qatar

Culture: Qatar’s US$434m desert rose museum finally blooms

ALMOST a decade in the making, three years late and at an estimated cost of US$434 million (RM1.77 billion), Qatar’s vast national museum, built in the shape of a desert rose, opens this week.A glittering ceremony, expected to include Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim Hamad al-Thani, Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, takes place tomorrow, with the doors opening to the public the next day.“Architecture to give a voice to heritage whilst celebrating (the) future,” tweeted the museum’s renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, also responsible for the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The pale, futuristic 52,000-sq m structure located on Doha’s waterfront corniche will be the first notable building visitors to Qatar see as they make their way from the airport to the city centre.Even in a country which is being built, rebuilt and utterly transformed for the 2022 football World Cup, the national museum could be the single most eye-catching design of all Qatar’s new buildings.

The entrance includes 114 fountain sculptures in a 900m-long lagoon and the museum’s multi-curved roof, which resembles a giant jigsaw puzzle, is made up of 76,000 panels in 3,600 different shapes and sizes.Inside, there is more than 1,500m of gallery space.Among the exhibits is a 19th century carpet embroidered with 1.5 million Gulf pearls and the oldest Quran yet discovered in Qatar, also dating back to the 1800s.

“This is a museum that narrates the story of the people of Qatar,” Sheikha Amna Abdulaziz Jassim al-Thani, the museum’s director, has stated.The National Museum of Qatar also stands on the site of the former palace of Sheikh Abdullah Jassim al-Thani — son of the founder of modern Qatar.
The palace has been restored as part of the massive project.The museum, which officials say celebrates Qatar’s Bedouin past and energy-rich present, also reflects the country’s massive wealth and ambition. ‘Post-blockade identity’And as well as an architectural and cultural statement, the new museum is also a political one by the Qataris.It is among a growing list of spectacular buildings in Qatar, including the recently opened national library and Museum of Islamic Art further along the corniche.
The national museum is also the latest in the cultural “arms race” and soft power course among Gulf nations, which includes Nouvel’s Louvre in Abu Dhabi opened to huge fanfare in 2017, designed to show-off the progressive aspects of the various competing emirate states.And for Qatar, the museum’s delayed opening — originally scheduled for 2016 — has given it a chance to reinforce its national identity from other Gulf states, say experts.Since June 2017, Qatar has been diplomatically and economically blockaded by neighbouring former allies, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, accused among other things of supporting terrorism. Qatar rejects all charges and says the blockade is an attack on its sovereignty.The bitter dispute has fractured long-standing Gulf alliances and the new museum will allow Qatar to reinforce its separateness from its rivals, says Sigurd Neubauer, a Middle East analyst based in Washington.

“On the basic level the museum represents Qatari identity which has really accelerated in the post-blockade environment,” he said.At the same time as the reputation of Doha’s rivals appear “inward-looking and regressive”, because of incidents like the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Qatar’s standing is the “opposite”, adds Neubauer.“It’s really not about the building, Qatar is trying to create an environment and national identity that provides a space towards independent thinking.“It is doubling down on its own progressive reforms.”

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Crisis with India can have unintended impact on Afghan peace process: Maleeha

NEW YORK: The ongoing crisis with India means that Pakistan’s full focus has to be on its eastern frontier and that has implications for the nascent Afghan peace process, Pakistan’s Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi said.
Although she stopped short of saying this would affect Pakistans role in the process, her message was clear that the shift in focus could have that unintended results.
Our attention is going to be where we feel there is a military threat to us,” Ambassador Lodhi said in response to a question about the possible impact of the simmering India-Pakistan tensions stemming from the Kashmir dispute.Qatar offers mediation to de-escalate tensions between Pak, IndiaThat ongoing threat, she clarified, was from India.
The latest round of Afghan peace talks is taking place in Doha, Qatar, between Zalmay Khalilzad, the American special envoy, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy leader, who for the first time is taking a more direct role in the process.“Both (Afghanistan) and (Kashmir) issues are important in their own right.
But it is the eastern border, from where India attacked Pakistan. They sent planes into our territory.That’s a hot border,” the envoy added.“Afghanistan is a different situation.We would like that war to end. But we don’t perceive a threat from our western border.
It’s our eastern border from where we continue to perceive a threat.“We are in the midst of a very tense situation, a very fraught situation,” the Pakistani envoy continued.The Indian leadership is failing to respond to Prime Minister Imran Khans repeated gestures (for peace), which included freeing and releasing the Indian pilot.”The turmoil in Kashmir escalated on February 14, after a suicide bombing killed more than 40 Indian paramilitary troops in Kashmir.Pakistan categorically denied any involvement and offered to investigate, but India still went ahead and dropped bombs inside Pakistani territory.We kept asking the Indians to give us what you have and we will act on it, Ambassador Lodhi said, adding that only couple of days ago, the so-called dossier has been handed over Pakistan.Theresa May lauds PM Imran’s peace overtures amid Pak-India tensionsWe are examining that dossier to see if there is anything there on which we need to act, and we will act if there is any solid evidence, but we cannot act on the basis of allegations, she said.Replying to a question about Kashmir, the Pakistani envoy said the dispute has been there for the past 70 years.
“It has to be addressed, in its own right and (on) its own merits because it will remain an issue that will lead to repeated tensions between India and Pakistan and in any case, it is an issue that is on the Security Council agenda and it has resolutions that remain unimplemented.

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