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Katara: living culture

Article - November 26, 2012
The purpose-built cultural village of Katara has already hosted various high-profile events and spurred many Qatari organisations to set up there

Realised out of a vision to establish Qatar as a cultural beacon of the Middle East, the cultural village at Katara is a world-class exhibition space that has been designed to spur the participation of Qataris in cultural activities and encourage greater exploration of the emirate’s rich heritage.

A true nation-building endeavour, the $82-million project is held as a key contributor to the social and human development of the country.

“The idea is to show that, in culture, the country has a strategy of coexistence of the ancient and the new.”

Marcio Barbosa, Managing Director of Katara

Built on reclaimed coastal land between Doha’s West Bay and The Pearl-Qatar, just to the north of the capital’s city centre, Katara includes heritage centres, libraries, art galleries and other academic facilities, in addition to retail outlets, coffee shops, museum facilities and market areas.

Katara had a soft opening in October 2010 during the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF).

According to Marcio Barbosa, managing director of Katara and former joint director at UNESCO, the cultural village has the challenge of, on one hand, preserving the traditions and historic values of the country and, on the other, “offering cultural opportunities” — modern ones through different manifestations, like music, art, theatre and cinema, among others. “The idea is to show that, in culture, the country has a strategy of coexistence of the ancient and the new,” he says.

Many Qatari organizations already have their offices at Katara, including the Qatari Society for Engineers, Qatar Fine Arts Society, Visual Art Centre, Qatar Photographic Society, Childhood Cultural Centre, Doha Film Institute, and the Qatar Music Academy.

The 247-acre cultural village features a massive open amphitheatre, opera house, cinema that can double as a drama theatre, a multipurpose hall, beach, handicrafts souq, book market, international restaurants and cafes, and ample space for visitors to stroll around the different areas of the project.

The themed restaurant area has eateries that are exclusive to the Middle East and Katara’s minaret centre is based around three towers, one of which – a hotel – will be Qatar’s tallest.