Qatar ‘stronger’ despite Gulf dispute, says emir as he opens vast museum

Doha: Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said Wednesday his country had become “stronger” since the start of a Gulf diplomatic crisis almost two years ago, as he formally opened the country’s national museum.

He made the comment during a speech at a glittering ceremony in Doha to open the estimated $434 million building, with guests including Kuwaiti and British royals, film star Johnny Depp, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni, Jose Mourinho and Victoria Beckham.

“Qatar has become much stronger since June 2017,” said the emir.

“The citizens have defended the dignity and the truth, with the consequences of strengthening the country.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in June 2017 over accusations it supports terrorism and is seeking closer ties with Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran.

Qatar rejects all the charges and says the dispute is an attack on its sovereignty.

The enormous 52,000-square metre National Museum of Qatar is located on Doha’s waterfront Corniche.

It tells the story of Qatar’s Bedouin past and colonial times to its energy-rich present, reflecting on the country’s wealth and ambitions.

French architect Jean Nouvel, who designed the museum in the shape of a desert rose, said it would become “an icon”.

Sheikha Al-Mayassa Al-Thani, chair of Qatar Museums and a member of the royal family, said the blockade had not delayed the museum’s opening date.

“The blockade hasn’t affected us one bit,” she told AFP during a preview tour of the museum.

“We are very proud and happy and, in fact, all the people are welcome to this museum and we remain open to the rest of the world,” she said.

“We are more than proud of this achievement.”