Following its successful showcase at the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta, ‘The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue’, a travelling cross-cultural exhibition featuring the collection of the Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum  opened at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, taking the audience to a new height with a special song ‘Cultures In Dialogue’, by Qatari composer Dana Al Fardan.  

The exhibition has been successful in distinctly establishing rich Qatari culture on the global canvas through impressive artefacts, which also emphasised the crucial importance that museums play in initiating dialogue.

Kees Wieringa, Director of the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, in the presence of Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani himself, and Xing Qu, the Deputy Director General of UNESCO for Culture, welcomed the French and international media for engaging guided tours during the day.

VIP guests also had the opportunity to view the astonishing and exceptional collection that bear witness to hundreds of years of inter-cultural dialogue and interaction of civilisations. Objects of great beauty including Chinese Qurans, mosque lamps made in Vienna, Persian carpets with Russian texts featuring the Virgin Mary, and mystic artefacts shared from Africa across the Arab world to India, were some of the prime highlights of the exhibition.

The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue was organised under the initiative of the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, in collaboration with the UNESCO Doha Office, the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, and Qatar Museums. Under the sponsorship of Qatar Shell, Refalo and Zammit Pace Advocates and QNB and Katara Hospitality, the exhibition will be hosted at the UNESCO Headquarters for two weeks. It will then move to the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris for two months.

The exhibition aims to encourage visitors to sit in the majlis to listen to stories and engage in conversations: initiate a ‘cultural dialogue’ by exchanging impressions and learn more about other cultures and religions, first hand.

This diverse cultural exhibition recreates the atmosphere of the majlis—the space of hospitality and dialogue present in homes throughout the Arabian Gulf—offering guests the opportunity to exchange ideas about how much common ground exists between different cultures, and how these commonalities have been expressed in technology, art and culture.

Sheikh Faisal Bin Qasem Al Thani (third from left) with VIP guests inside the Majlis seating at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

The exhibition is only the beginning of a much bigger project to connect people, beliefs and cultures by creating opportunities for respectful, yet incisive dialogues to take place. The project envisions to create a platform where relevant cultural aspects can be discussed, and original perspectives can be generated through collective thinking.

The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue is a visitor’s experience that reveals how global perspectives can vary depending on the position of the viewer. Following Paris, the exhibition will visit several countries including Austria, Germany, Spain, Turkey, and the UK. The tour will also include the United States by 2021.