By Zia Khan/Staff Reporter
Qatar will this year host an exhibition of Afghan art in an apparent cultural-cum-political move as Doha prepares to mediate between the Kabul administration and the Taliban, to seek peace in the war torn country.
A top official said yesterday that the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) will organise the event in March, to let the world get a feel of the heritage of Afghanistan—a country otherwise known for Al Qaeda inspired violence and decades of deadly armed conflict.
“We look forward to it as one of our major achievements,” said Aisha al-Khater, the director of MIA. She was speaking to the media at the official launch of the first Alain Ducasse restaurant in the Middle East, IDAM, at the museum premises on the Corniche Street.
Ducasse combines world famous French Mediterranean style with Arab influences.
Aisha said the launch of the world class restaurant at the museum would give visitors a whole new feel of the traditional Arabian cuisine. “It feels we are complete today,” she added.
Though she attempted to downplay any political motive or significance of having Afghan art on display in Doha, the timing of the event suggests it is likely to be much more than just a cultural experience.
“It has nothing to do with the politics or diplomacy…we started planning it almost two years ago,” said Aisha.
The announcement came amid assertions by top Qatari leaders including Prime Minister and Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani, that they would facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process by allowing the militia to open a temporary liaison office in Doha.
Qatar Museum Authority (QMA) — of which MIA is a flagship project — has never organised in the past any exhibition to display cultural heritage from Muslim countries located in the neighbourhood of Afghanistan including Pakistan.
Officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan told Gulf Times over the weekend that negotiators from the Afghan Taliban ranks had already arrived in Doha to kick-start the process and the opening of the office is expected soon.
Many experts are also on record explaining that Qatar being one of the most significant players in the global arena, especially in the Islamic world, has decided to go all out to support international efforts to end the bloodshed in Afghanistan since the Russian invasion in 1979.
“When you go for aggressive diplomacy, you are supposed to try all avenues, culture, trade, politics and even coercion, if it is needed…this may be the idea behind the event,” said Irfan Shahzad, a researcher on Afghanistan and Central Asia with Pakistan-based Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), in reply to an online query.