HH Shaikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qassimi, Member of the Supreme
Council and Ruler of Sharjah, said during the opening of the Dr Sultan
Al Qassimi Centre for Gulf Studies that the centre would allow
researchers access to documents, maps and images they otherwise might
have travelled far and wide to examine.
In his inaugural speech, HH explained that the Centre contained a
collection of original maps, not copies, which he had himself assembled
over 25 years. He was so passionate about this endeavour that he had
collected several prints of the same maps.
“And while many may consider this a waste of money, there are in fact
several institutions across the globe very interested in exhibiting
them. This exhibit you see today has also been seen in Washington,
Britain and many other places”, he added.
HH said that each map has a summary description of its contents and
origin posted underneath its display, while further details were
available in the computer database. He spoke briefly about the maps,
highlighting the oldest one in the collection, which dates back to 1493,
and others taken from the works of famous geographers such as Ptolemy
and, more recently, the era of the British survey of the Gulf. He
explained that the names on many of the earlier maps are clearly taken
from other researchers, scientists, historians and geographers.
He continued, “There is an important map that did not include Kadhima.
Later I noticed that the maps drawn by the same cartographer started
placing the name Kazma in the Kuwait area. I discovered that he had read
some books by Ibn Hauqal translated into French; then he looked at his
maps and realized he had not marked Kuwait”.
HH added, “There are a large number of images, thousands of them, that
we could not put up for the time being. All of them will be available at
the Centre soon”.
Also available for researchers are 1.5 million pages of documents
accessible through the database, and while HH will be keeping some of
the ones on which he is currently working, he said he hoped all his
remaining documents will eventually be available at the Centre.
HH mentioned the database search engines available for visitors and
researchers, which make it a simple process for anyone to locate and
view any document, map or image quickly and free of charge. He added
that there is also a rich library full of rare books about the Gulf
region, “…however, displaying them in the Centre and allowing people to
handle them would cause them to be irreparably damaged. For that reason
an agreement has been made with an establishment to make them available
in electronic form”.
HH stressed that this Centre was for everyone, not just the geographers
and historians, and welcomed all those interested to visit and utilize
the available resources, hoping that the Centre would become a beacon of
In his conclusion, HH thanked all those who took part in the inaugural
ceremony and expressed his hope that there would be other similar
institutions opening up soon around the Arab World. By way of example,
HH said he was a researcher and regular visitor at the Bibliothèque
Nationale de France, (the National Library of France in Paris), stating
that it was a huge library with massive resources, all of which were now
The inauguration ceremony of the Dr Sultan Al Qassimi Centre for Gulf
Studies, located at the University City, began with HH’s arrival at the
Centre, where he was received by HH Shaikh Sultan bin Muhammad bin
Sultan al-Qassimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and a number
of Shaikhs, Ministers and high-ranking officials. Following the
traditional cutting of the ribbons, HH went on a tour of the halls of
the two-floor building containing documents, images, books, maps, tools,
model and 3-D replicas of the history and civilizations of the Arabian
Gulf region in general, and the United Arab Emirates in particular. All
of the items in the Centre were from the his personal collection.
HH’s tour began with a visit to the maps and documents hall and included
a brief history of the history and evolution of maps. The hall contained
an assorted collection of old and new maps and noticeably impressed the
audience. HH then toured the first floor containing the documentary
library that houses the huge collection of rare books, which are to be
transferred to electronic form in the future.