By Abeer al-Kuwari/Doha
The Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) Doha opens at Qatar National Library today, and I could not be more pleased to be part of the country’s first international literary festival.
As a nation, we highly prize dialogue as a precursor to progress, and in many ways, our library represents the physical embodiment of this high ideal. JLF Doha will deliver countless opportunities for people from all over the world to engage with one another. The library will be filled with the voices of writers, poets, artists and cultural scholars, once again demonstrating that libraries are living organisms — places where people and cultures connect.
Tragically, it seems that nowadays the world is filled with stories of conflict and strife. It is my firm belief that it is only by learning from one another that we can coexist peacefully. Part of the Library’s mission is to create an exceptional environment for learning and discovery, and this literature festival provides yet more evidence that we are succeeding in this mission.
I am very excited in welcoming everyone to visit the library from 12 to 14 December and to enjoy this extraordinary programme of stimulating events, discussions, informative lectures and hands-on storytelling and theatre workshops and more.
The goals of JLF Doha are closely linked to our vision as Qatar’s national library, a role in which we serve not only the local population, but also the regional and international educational and cultural communities. We support users in navigating our collections—both physical and digital — for their learning and research needs each day. And, through JLF Doha, we are broadening horizons and opening new possibilities for personal and professional enrichment.
We are expecting visitors from around the world at JLF Doha, and as a Qatari librarian I am looking forward to this opportunity to showcase what a 21st century library can and should be: a centre of knowledge that enhances the development of society, improves quality of life for everyone, and fosters learning, culture and the diversity of ideas.
We are also helping to lay the groundwork for Qatar’s literary future. For example, the Qatari Writers’ Forum, launched by the Library in 2018, gives the future generation of writers the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by influential Qatari writers such as Ali Bin Towar Al Kuwari, Saleh Gharib, Jamal Fayez and even publishers like Radhi al-Hajri. These well-established authors will have the chance to share our unique storytelling traditions at JLF Doha to highlight how much our country has achieved in the field of literature, and how important these contributions are to Arabic language, culture and heritage. I also hope that aspiring writers will benefit from interactions with literary icons who can have a positive influence on their personal development and craft.
Meanwhile, visitors to JLF Doha will have a chance to express their creativity and engage in in-depth literary conversations and reflections with the authors they love, and whose works they cherish. This is indeed a rare chance to engage directly with writers who have inspired millions in an intimate and exciting setting. JLF Doha will benefit us as individuals, as a community and as a country. It will deepen our role as an institution that promotes imagination, discovery and nourishment of the human spirit, and also binds different cultures, languages and artistic voices.
The festival is also a wonderful way of celebrating the Qatar-India 2019 Year of Culture as it draws to a close soon. Our two countries have shared an enduring relationship over almost five millennia and, here at the Library, we have provided a glimpse into that story through our exhibition, “Qatar, India & the Gulf.”
JLF Doha will serve to strengthen these ties as we celebrate the multilingual literature of South Asia. The library is curating a programme of sessions throughout the Festival that will cultivate a vibrant intercultural dialogue between many diverse voices sharing each other’s stories.
As a Qatari, I am proud of our national library. As a global citizen, I am grateful for the opportunity to immerse myself in dialogue with those from other cultures. This is how we learn. This is how we grow. This is how we progress.
* Abeer al-Kuwari is Director of Research and Learning Services at Qatar National Library
ABOUT QATAR NATIONAL LIBRARY
Qatar National Library acts as a steward of Qatar’s national heritage by collecting, preserving and making available the country’s recorded history. The library provides equal access to all types of information and services and aims to enable the people of Qatar to positively influence society by creating an exceptional learning and discovery environment.
His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Amir of Qatar, officially inaugurated Qatar National Library on 16 April 2018. The Library was granted the status of national library under the Amiri Decree No11 of 20 March 2018.
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