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Qatar's new museums take on history of slavery

Qatar will soon open a quartet of new museums as part of a big downtown development, and one of them will take on a contentious subject—slavery—which has a long and little-discussed history in the Arabian Peninsula.


The museum's narrative and exhibits have been developed with assistance from David Spence, who helped develop the Museum of London's exhibits dealing with Britain's role in the historic slave trade. He told the Telegraph (UK) that the subject is “very contentious – even more so than in the UK, as the history of Arabian/sub-Saharan slave trading has very little visibility in the Middle East."


A likely controversial aspect of the exhibits includes, according to reports,  a modern slavery section that draws an "explicit connection to human trafficking, contractual enslavement, and the kafala system—the sponsorship regime that governs foreign labor in the Gulf."


The programs will be aimed at Qataris as well as visitors, and will include documents and testimonies of slaves and former slaves into recent times. The museum was originally supposed to open in 2013, but suffered delays; it can now be visited by appointment, and will open fully next year.


Other museums in the complex will highlight the explosive growth of Doha, its urban architecture, and the oil industry. They are part of a $6 billion “Msheireb Downtown Doha” development in the centre of the Qatari capital, which will also contain community centres, hotels, schools, mosques and shops. 





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