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The Desert Rose as a New Symbol for the Nation: Materiality, Heritage and the Architecture of the New National Museum of Qatar

Bounia, A; (2018) The Desert Rose as a New Symbol for the Nation: Materiality, Heritage and the Architecture of the New National Museum of Qatar. Heritage & Society , 11 (3) pp. 211-228. 10.1080/2159032X.2019.1693827. Green open access

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Abstract

The desert rose, a fragile formation of gypsum or barite crystals including sand grains, is gaining momentum as the new symbol of Qatar. Chosen by Jean Nouvel as an inspiration of his design for the new National Museum of Qatar which opened for the public in March 28 2019, the building, which encircles the first National Museum of the country, is intended to be both a monument and a metaphor: a huge sculpture that will pay tribute and encourage emotive associations of contemporary Qatar with values such as rarity, fragility, beauty, timelessness. At the same time, the same symbol is used by the tourist industry, with desert roses being introduced into Qatari Museums shops, where visitors are invited to purchase desert roses to “pay tribute to this nature's marvel,” but also to participate to the creation of a new heritage symbol, that connects the land with its people, the past with the present. This paper uses this particular object to explore the simultaneous construction of heritage narratives and the use of museums in the construction of a new identity in Qatar.

Type: Article
Title: The Desert Rose as a New Symbol for the Nation: Materiality, Heritage and the Architecture of the New National Museum of Qatar
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/2159032X.2019.1693827
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/2159032X.2019.1693827
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: National identity, national symbolism, desert rose, Qatar National Museum, Museums in the GCC, heritage and tourism, heritage narratives, identity building
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > VP: International
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > VP: International > UCL - Qatar
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10087551
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