Qatar National Library Strengthens its International Relations through Strategic MoUs with Russian Institutions During SPIEF 2021

Qatar National Library’s recent participation at the 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2021) proved to be a success, complete with high-level strategic meetings, panel discussions on critical topics, Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with key entities, book donations, and visits to local museums and libraries.

The Library’s team of senior representatives participated and moderated important panel sessions that discussed relevant topics and future trends. A key highlight at the forum was the panel discussion “Transformation of Libraries and Books in the Digital Era,” which featured Lolwa A. Al-Naemi, Director of Strategic Planning and Projects, and Dr. James Onley, Director of Historical Research and Partnerships. Abeer S. Al-Kuwari, Director of Research and Learning Services, moderated the discussion, which also included speakers from several Russian cultural institutions. Panelists discussed the changing technological environment of libraries around the world and the transformation of libraries in a digital-first world.

Commenting on the panel, Abeer S. Al-Kuwari said, “SPIEF 2021 was a great opportunity for us to connect and collaborate with our Russian counterparts. This session helped experts share and learn best practices for attracting and impacting communities. With this knowledge, we believe we can work together to create a better learning environment for our members and patrons, while providing them with additional resources about our history and heritage. We look forward to working with Russian institutions to further enhance visitor experiences.”

The Library also signed two significant MoUs during the forum, with the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (known as the Kunstkamera), the oldest museum in Russia, and the St. Petersburg Museum of Islamic Culture, the newest museum in Russia. The MoUs pave the way for digitizing the two museums’ historical photographic collections on the Gulf region for the Qatar Digital Library (www.QDL.qa) and their historical photographic collections on the Middle East and Islamic world for the Digital Library of the Middle East (https://DLMEnetwork.org/library). The partner institutions will also collaborate on transcribing, translating and publishing Russian travel accounts from the Gulf from the early 20th century.

On the occasion, Lolwa A. Al-Naemi said, “These two MoUs will help us expand our collections on the QDL for the world to access easily and for free, and underscore our dedication to promoting and supporting Islamic history and heritage. We look forward to working together and hope this will be the beginning of a series of collaborations between us and and Russian cultural institutions.”

During their visit, the Library’s team supported Russia’s Arabic Language Center by donating 73 books covering various topics and genres. The books were carefully reviewed by librarians to support students in learning the Arabic language. The donation also provided resources on Qatari culture and heritage, enabling students in Russia to learn more about Qatar.

A team led by Dr. Onley also visited the National Library of Russia, the Scientific Library of St. Petersburg State University, the Presidential Library and the Russian State Historical Archive. Dr. Onley also visited the Russian State Naval Archive, which houses an important collection on the Gulf from a series of Imperial Russian Navy visits to the region from 1899 to 1903.

The Qatar National Pavilion at SPIEF 2021 consisted of more than 50 Qatari organizations, businesses, high-ranking officials, political figures, heads of authorities and civil society organizations. Qatar Foundation, Qatar Financial Center, World Innovation Summit for Health, Investment Promotion Authority of Qatar, Qatar Development Bank and Barzan Holdings were among the Qatari entities participating.