Qatar National Library (QNL) kicked off the ‘Traditional Gulf Architecture Week’  with a photo exhibition and lecture on Qatar’s traditional architecture by Dr Claire Hardy-GuilbertThe week continues with a three-day Traditional Gulf Architecture Conference examining the Arabian Gulf’s architectural identity and wider cultural and economic history.

Dr Hardy-Guilbert’s lecture included an exhibition of architectural photographs, drawings, and studies from a survey of Qatar’s historical buildings conducted by the French Archaeological Mission to Qatar in 1984–1985. She was accompanied by Vincent Aïtzegag, the photographer of the mission.

QNL has recently acquired the Mission’s entire photographic survey — 1,700 colour slides in total — a small sample of which appears in the exhibition. The photographs portray the broad range of Qatar’s vernacular, domestic, public, religious, and military architecture.

QNL Executive Director Dr Sohair Wastawy, said that the architecture of a culture uniquely reflects its people and the time and place in which they lived.

This conference gives us a window into past generations of Arabian Gulf inhabitants through the structures they created. Though many of the buildings no longer exist, by understanding how and why past residents built the way they did, we can gain an added insight into Qatar’s history.’

During the week, expert panelists will explore the Arabian Gulf’s architectural identity and its wider cultural and economic history through the story of its traditional architecture from the 1700s to the 1960s.


Scholars will discuss architectural projects, the varieties of vernacular buildings, the influence of pre-oil trade and migration flows between the Arabian Gulf and the wider world, the state of traditional Arabian Gulf architecture today, preservation practices and debates, and architecture’s ongoing significance for national identity in the GCC states.

These events form part of QNL’s Traditional Gulf Architecture Project, which seeks to create a digital archive of historical photographs, architectural maps and drawings, and publications relating to the region’s architectural heritage.

The Traditional Gulf Architecture Conference is organised by QNL in collaboration with Liverpool University’s School of Architecture, Qatar University’s Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, and Ibrahim Jaidah, CEO and Chief Architect, Arab Engineering Bureau, Qatar.

Conference panels include presentations of research projects related to the architecture of the Arabian Gulf, as well as a discussion of Arabian Gulf building types and their influences. The conference continues until this Wednesday, 25 April, and is open to the public. The full programme available on the QNL website.