Research Trip to Qatar Following the Project “The Material World of the Qur’an (the Everyday Life of Arabia in the Prophet's Time)”

In April – May, 2018 with the support of University College of London, Qatar the research trip to Qatar of Efim Rezvan, MAE RAS deputy director, and Anna Kudriavtceva, academic secretary of the International Center for Islamic studies, was realized. In particular in the framework of the visit studies following the project “The Material world of the Qur’an (the everyday life of Arabia in the time of the Prophet)” were carried out. 

Within the confines of his scientific program Efim Rezvan took part in three scientific conferences: “Research Data Management in Digital Humanities” (UCL Qatar, 17–18 April); “Traditional Gulf Architecture Conference” (Qatar National Library, 23–25 April 2018); 8th Annual Conference “Contemporary Western Trends in Qur’anic Studies. The Problem of Objectivity and Bias: An Epistemological Perspective” (College of Sharia and Islamic Studies, 2–3 May 2018). He presented a lecture to the students of UCL Qatar and the public lecture “Fates of two ‘‘Uthmanic Qur’ans’ (to the history of MIA Doha Ms 248)” in the Museum of Islamic art. Local collections of early manuscripts of the Qur’an were studied; a Russian-made teapot from a local historical and ethnographic collection was dated and localized. 

The scientific interests of Anna Kudryavtseva in Doha were primarily connected with the study of the collections of the Qur’anic Botanical Garden and the ethnographic collections of Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum.
Barzan towers, Palace of Sheikh Mohammed bin Jassim Al Thani, al-Zubarah, al-Areesh, Al-Khuwair and al-Jemail were visited in course of the study of the architectural and historical heritage of Qatar. In the northwest of Qatar it was also possible to visit al-Jassassia, known for its petroglyphs (about 900 units were recorded), which still cause a wide variety of interpretations.

The concepts of two joint exhibition projects were developed within the framework of interaction with the National Library of Qatar, the University College of London and the Qur’anic Botanical Garden. 

According to the results of the trip, a scientific work will be prepared, devoted to the research of the Russian zoologist Prof. Nikolay V. Bogoyavlenkiy (1870–1930), realized during his visit to the Gulf in 1902, as well as to the political significance of this scientific trip. On the one hand, the topic of the work is connected with the project “The Material World of the Qur’an (the Daily Life of Arabia in the Time of the Prophet)”, on the other hand it will be a continuation of historical and archival research, which resulted in the monograph by “Efim Rezvan Russian Ships in the Gulf. 1899–1903” (London: Ithaca Press, 1994).

An extensive scientific program would not have been implemented without sincere assistance and advice of Dr Milena Dobreva, UCL Qatar Senior Lecturer in Library and Information Studies; Dr Sam Evans, Director UCL Qatar; Prof. Robert Carter (UCL Qatar); Dr Julia Gonella, Director of the Museum of Islamic Art; Mrs Fatima Saleh Al-Khulaifi, Qur’anic Botanical Garden Project Manager; Dr James Onley, Qatar National Library Director of Historical Research & Partnerships; Prof Thomas Leisten, Qatar Museums Director of International Heritage Sites Protection Archaeology and Conservation Division; Dr Jelena Trkulja, Qatar Museums Director of Education; Dr Mahmoud Zaki (Heritage Library, Qatar National Library), as well as of Dr Serena Iervolino, King's College London.


Qatar National Library (QNL) – one of largest libraries in the region and one of the most technically advanced libraries in the world. It was opened to the public in a soft opening in November, 2017. On April 16, 2018 the QNL held its official inauguration ceremony. At the present time the library's collection consists of more than 800,000 printed books and more than 500,000 eBooks, periodicals and newspapers. Photo by “Qatar Today”


In the Qatar National Library. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


In the Heritage Library of QNL. The Heritage Library is keeping the collection of Muslim manuscripts (2400 items, including those going back to the first centuries of Islam as well as valuable manuscripts on geography, medicine, astronomy and mathematics), as well as archival documents, books (including incunabula) and periodicals in various European languages, early Arabic printed materials, maps, atlases, globes, a selection of early photography as well as instruments and tools related to travel. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Dr. Mahmoud Zaki, the keeper of the QNL Heritage Library demonstrates to Prof. Rezvan the most ancient manuscripts of the Qur’an kept here. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


The Museum of Islamic Art is occupying a total area of 45,000 m2 and presenting one of the world’s most complete collections of Islamic artifacts, with items originating from Spain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India, and Central Asia and dating from the 7th to the 19th century AD. The museum was officially opened on November 22, 2008. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


In the Museum of Islamic Art. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


War mask in the Museum of Islamic Art. (Eastern Turkey or Western Iran, 15th century AD) (cf. the Guy Fawkes mask!). Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


Armour for horse and rider in the Museum of Islamic Art (Turkey, late 15th – early 16th centuries AD). Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


Prof. Rezvan gives a public lecture at the Museum of Islamic Art. Photo from Twitter account of the University College of London (UCL Qatar), 2018


Anna Kudriavtseva at the entrance to the Qatar Foundation Plant Nursery. Photo by Efim Rez-van, Qatar, 2018


In the Qatar Foundation Plant Nursery. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum is a privately owned mu-seum and the real kunstkammer. Encompassing an area of 530,000 m², the three-building museum was opened in 1998. There are 15 halls in the museum which accommodate a total of over 15,000 artifacts. All of the artifacts in the museum were collected by Sheikh Faisal over a span of 50 years. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


Symbolic gates in Shaikh Feisal Museum, representing generic signs of tribal units, which now constitute the autochthonous population of Qatar. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


The brand-iron of one of the Qatari tribal units on a camel dummy in Shaikh Feisal Museum. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


Reconstruction of a traditional prison cell in Shaikh Feisal Museum. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


The carpet of Russian work, representing the state bank note of 500 rubles (1912), being the largest one in the history of Russia. Its size is 275 mm in width and 125 mm in height. The banknote has a design in the early 18th century style with a portrait of Peter the Great. For this reason, the people called it “petenka” and other single-root words. Shaikh Feisal Museum. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Traditional clothes of Qatari women in Shaikh Feisal Museum. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


The Shaikh Feisal Museum presents almost all types of traditional for Qatar sea vessels. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Camel mannequin with bodywork (hawdaj) for carrying women in Sheikh Feisal Museum. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


One of the vehicles from the extensive collection of Sheikh Faisal represented in the Museum. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


Al-Zubarah Fort (1938) and the memorial sign presenting the unique status of the territory. Al-Zubarah Archaeological Site was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2013. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


The view from the wall of Al-Zubarah Fort. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Al-Zubarah Archaeological Site. The walled coastal town of Al-Zubarah flourished as a pearling and trading centre in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, before it was destroyed in 1811 and abandoned in the early 1900s. It is one of the largest and best preserved examples of an 18th–19th century merchant town in the Gulf region. It is against this background that Al-Zubarah represents a unique object of research devoted to the reconstruction of the traditional city of the Gulf of this pe-riod. Only a small part of the town has been excavated in three phases: early 1980s, between 2002 and 2003 and since 2009. Restoration work carried out during the 1980s involved some re-construction of walls. The photo from the exposition of Al-Zubarah fort.


The archaeological site of Al-Zubarah. Tent of archaeologists. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


The petroglyph site in Jabal al-Jassasiyah (more than 900 carvings: cupules, which are almost always arranged in geometric patterns, human, animal and ship shapes) is located approximately 60 km northeast of the capital city of Doha. There are several hypotheses of the origin of the com-plex of petroglyphs in this area. А variety of views on the possible dating is presented (for example 10th–12th or 15th–16th centuries AD, i. e. the presence of the Portuguese in the Gulf). Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


Making copies of petroglyphs in Jabal al-Jassasiyah for the future exposition of the National Museum of Qatar (the opening is planned for the spring of 2019). Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


One of Barzan Towers – the watchtowers (16 meters high) built in the late 19th century, reno-vated in 1910 and restored in 2003. They are located at the southern side of the defensive system protecting the valley where precious rainwater is collected and could monitor the approaching ships. They were constructed by traditional building methods mainly with coral rock and limestone. The towers and its enclosed site were excavated by a Danish archaeological team in 1958. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


The second Barzan tower. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


The room at the top of one of the Barzan towers. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


In the palace complex of Sheikh Mohammed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani (1881–1971). The purpose of the extensive restoration works which are currently underway here is the restoration of the complex of buildings representing the traditional architecture of Qatar. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


One of the buildings in the palace complex of Sheikh Mohammed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


In al-Jemail, fishermen village abandoned in late 1960ies. During the shooting of a documentary which was held here not long ago, the construction works were carried out that seriously violated the architectural authenticity of the settlement. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Mosque in abandoned village al-Jemail. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Sale of birds at the Souq Waqif, traditional bazaar in Doha, which was founded around century ago. It was a gathering place where Bedouins and locals were able to trade variety goods. In 2003 most of the bazaar was destroyed by fire. The governmental restoration program (2006–2008) had the goal of preserving its architectural and historical identity. The place is well known by its Bird souq, which sells not only falcons but also the needed accessories. The area is very popular with local and expats alike. Yearly spring festival held around April hosts many theatricals, acrobatics, musical performances, restlers, etc. The Souq Waqif was used as a filming location. Its Art Centre combines a selection of small and artistic shops. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


Italian pure silk with patterns reflecting local realities in the Souq Waqif. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


Popular children's dolls in the Souq Waqif. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Shika and Shiko, little oryxes welcomes the holy month of Ramadan. Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Tilting dolls in the gift shop of the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha. It was established in 2010 and is considered to be one of the largest collections of Arab-produced paintings and sculptures in the world. The 5,500-square-meter museum has a collection of more than 9,000 artworks representing the major trends in modern Arab art spanning from the 1840s to the present. The museum has published an online encyclopedia containing the biographies of Arab artists. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


The Babylonian Tower of Playing Cards, crumbling and looking to the ground, is one of the exhibits of the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


One of the sculptures decorating the entrance to the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


In the port of Doha. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Traditional ships in the background of West Bay skyscrapers. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Free charging of gadgets in the esplanade of Doha. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018


Bird Towers in Katara Cultural Village which is the largest and the most multidimensional cultural project of Qatar. Since the year 150 AD (The “Geography” by Ptol-emy), “Catara” was the first and most ancient name designated for the Qatar Peninsula in geograph-ic and historical maps. The Katara Cultural Village was opened in October 2010 during the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, an event that it has hosted ever since. With its beautiful theatres, concert halls, exhibition galleries and cutting-edge facilities Katara aims to become the Arabic world leader for multi-cultural activities. It hosts international, regional and local festivals, workshops, performances and exhibitions. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


The Roman appearance of the Сatara. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


The monument to batula – traditional face covering typically worn by Bedouin women from the Gulf region. In most cases it is produced from kerya neel Indian cotton indigo-dyed and beaten to achieve a shiny, metallic appearance. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


The skyscrapers of the West Bay financial and diplomatic district. Photo by Anna Kudriavtceva, Qatar, 2018


Standard fences enclosing the construction sites in the “Education city” – Doha area, where the largest universities and research centers are located. Photo by Efim Rezvan, Qatar, 2018