On 20 June 2017, two weeks into the crisis and siege imposed on Qatar, the National Museum of Qatar took central stage when His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani visited the site of the museum, and when Chairperson of Qatar Museums Her Highness Sheikha al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani announced that the museum will open in December 2018. The Emir was taken on tour of the upcoming museum by HE Sheikha al-Mayassa and CEO and the Chairperson’s advisor Mansoor bin Ebrahim al-Mahmoud to gain an overview of the progress and various stages of the Museum’s development. The Emir emphasized the crucial role of the National Museum in supporting Qatar’s National Vision 2030 in terms of human development. On her part, HE Sheikha al-Mayassa emphasized the importance of the National Museum in instilling and reinforcing Qatari national identity when she stated that “The National Museum is the physical manifestation of Qatar’s proud identity, connecting the country’s history with its diverse and cosmopolitan present. It will reflect a part of every Qatari’s life, representing our roots and identity. The opening of the National Museum of Qatar will firmly position our country on the global map as a progressive, knowledge-based economy with a long and rich history and give Qatar a voice in the world”.
The Emir’s visit and Sheikha al_Mayassa’s announcement had an encouraging effect on both nationals and residents in Qatar who stressed though social media Qatar’s continual focus on its development and advancement regardless of the crisis. The National Museum of Qatar on its part announced that fifty tours of the museum will be organized and which commenced on 24 July 2017, the day that marks fifty days of siege. The tours, in Sheikha al-Mayassa’s words, aim to “enable you to appreciate the architectural gem of Jean Nouvel for one last time before we begin our interior installations. This is everyone’s last chance to experience the museum as an architectural artefact. We welcome all nationalities and residents”. Over half the allocated spots on the tours were booked within the first days of the announcement.
The opening of the Museum in December is intended to coincide with Qatar’s National Day also in December of every year, and with the ten-year anniversary of the opening of the Museum of Islamic Art. The opening date reflects the National Museum’s central position in Qatar’s nation-building, as well as its role in globally positioning Qatar as a culture hub with its particular Qatari, Arab, and Islamic heritage which intersects with international trends and currents.