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13-16 June 2014: Museums in Arabia Conference

14 October 2013

Museums in Arabia logo Jo Wright

13-16 June 2014, Doha, Qatar

Organisers: Sarina Wakefield, Open University UK & Karen Exell, UCL Qatar

The inaugural Museums in Arabia conference took place in July 2012 at the British Museum, London. This first conference, entitled The Role of Museums in Arabia, was held as a special session alongside the Seminar for Arabian Studies. The session explored the role of the museum as an institution for the preservation and interpretation of heritage in a region whose past is based upon traditional practices and oral histories, and in which the intangible past has taken precedence over the preservation of the material past. 

Due to the success of the first conference a second edition will be held in Doha in co-operation with UCL Qatar, The Museum of Islamic Art, Doha and the support of the Qatar National Research Fund.

Although museums have been present in the region since the 1950s, the recent investment in high-profile museums in a number of the states of the Arabian Peninsula is establishing the museum as a central form of heritage preservation, arguably overshadowing local forms of heritage performance and preservation. In addition, the mega-museum projects in, for example, Abu Dhabi and Qatar are drawing the attention of international media to the region, and such media interpretations of these developments have come to dominate the discourse.

Critical analysis of the role of museums in the Arabian Peninsula is at an early stage. This conference explores a number of themes addressing questions such as: What challenges do museums in the region face in their development? What is the nature of the heritage collected, curated and displayed in the museums? How are the museum model and the implementation of international museological expertise impacting on local forms of heritage representation? What kind of audience are the museums speaking to, and how do local communities engage with the museums? What is the nature of community vis-à-vis the museum in the region?

This conference will be of interest to academics and students working in the field of museums and cultural heritage in the region and globally, museum and cultural heritage practitioners, anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, and, more broadly, those with an interest in the socio-cultural, economic and political landscape of the region.

Rooms are available at a special conference rate of QAR400 (single) and QAR450 (double) inclusive of internet and breakfast at the Movenpick Hotel located near the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, the conference venue. Please use the link below to book a room using the code GCOUCL1B:

Limited funding is available to support travel and accommodation. Please contact Karen Exell or Fazail Ahmed to discuss funding applications. 

For general enquiries, please email

Qatar Museums AuthorityMuseum of Islamic ArtQatar National Research Fund

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