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Between Land and Sea

Spanning several centuries to create a comprehensive representation of different periods of Qatari culture, the new large-scale exhibition celebrates the traditions and legacy of the pearl of the Persian Gulf. We find out more about this must-see show.

Step back in time…

Ever wondered how people in Qatar had lived between sands and sea for centuries until the discovery of oil? Well now you can, plus a lot more about this captivating Gulf peninsula with the ‘Qatar Between Land and Sea: Through Arts and Heritage’ exhibition at the Russian Museum of Ethnography.

Covering the history of the country from the 17th to the 20th centuries, the exhibition exquisitely creates a three-dimensional representation of the different periods of Qatari culture and is available to see until August 22.

The proximity of the desert and the sea had a significant impact on the formation of the cultural tradition and historical heritage of Qatar — the people of Qatar have neither been exclusively desert-dwelling Bedouins nor coastal tribes, which distinguished them from the inhabitants of their neighbouring countries. However, rapid development and modernisation in the 20th century completely transformed all social spheres and strata, significantly influencing the traditional way of life of this Middle Eastern country.

As the guest country at the 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum this year, the exhibition is the centerpiece of Qatar’s cultural programme. The name of the exhibition was specifically selected to highlight the proximity of the desert and the sea in Qatar and its noticeable impact on the formation of not only the country, but its culture and heritage.

The exhibition showcases an impressive COLLECTION OF ORIENTAL CARPETS from traditional Islamic prayer mats to classic Persian carpets with medallion compositions, as well as Indian rugs with characteristic images of dragons and elephants.

To showcase this multi-faceted and fascinating tale of the country’s history, the exhibition will include around 200 items from the collection of the National Museum of Qatar, the private Museum of Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.

“This exhibition is a great opportunity for people from around the world to explore the very precious elements of the Qatari and Middle Eastern tradition and lifestyle, such as handmade carpets and artefacts, pearls, and antique jewellery, ”

explains Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, founder and owner of FBQ Museum.

A truly diverse environment

The folk culture of Qatar is unique with the country having occupied a special place in Arab-Islamic history for a long time. The Persian Gulf has long been the intersection of trade routes that forged economic and cultural ties between the East and the West.

“Visitors will be able to see artefacts related to the cultural history of the peninsula and the amazingly diverse nature of its environment, ”

says Sheikha Haya bint Ali Al Thani, Director of Curatorial Affairs at the National Museum of Qatar.

The works of art displayed in the exhibition also illustrate the extensive and varied ties with different groups of people around the world, including Russia. For example, you can see an old carpet stylized as a Russian 500-ruble banknote, depicting Peter I in armour and a woman symbolising Russia.

“The project embodies our countries’ interest in each other and not only reveals Qatar’s multifaceted culture to the public but also its similarity with the cultural values of the people of Russia, ” says Yulia Kupina, Director of the Russian Museum of Ethnography.

“Through such projects, we discover other countries, learn what matters to them and thus get to know ourselves better by interacting with the diversity of the world.”

The exhibition is thematically divided into the topics of pearl diving, falconry, religious manuscripts, military equipment, traditional carpets, musical instruments, household items, clothing and jewellery, and allows visitors to fully immerse themselves into each section.


For those who cannot attend in person, online broadcasts will be available, including videos on the CULTURAL CREATIVE AGENCY YouTube channel.

Qatar through the eyes of scientists

To enable visitors to dive deeper into the history of Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries, the creators of the exhibition came up with an educational programme. Every Saturday, the Russian Ethnographic Museum will host free lectures by art historians, historians and other specialists in the field of culture of the Middle East and the Arabic language.

PHOTOS: Anna Kuznetsova
VIDEO: Nikita Markin

Stay up-to-date with our stories about Qatar and Russia

Stay up-to-date with our stories about Qatar and Russia