Qatar-funded slave museum opens in Doha

An old building where East African slaves were once held for sale has been converted into the government-funded Bin Jelmood House museum in Qatar

Numerous migrant workers are building for Qatar's 2022 FIFA World Cup. [Representational image]
Numerous migrant workers are building for Qatar's 2022 FIFA World Cup. [Representational image]

A government-funded museum has opened in Doha to highlight the impact and effects of slavery in the Arab world. 

The Bin Jelmood House in Doha is the first museum to focus on slavery in the region.

Qatar has been accused of exploiting migrant workers as it prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 

The country has denied those accusations. 

Qatar's Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, the mother of the current Emir, opened the museum in the country. 

Hafiz Abdullah, the museum's manager, told Reuters: "Development has been so fast in Qatar, we wanted to look at how things changed, how Qatar was affected by slavery and how slaves were integrated into society." 

Qatar abolished slavery in 1952, and part of the population in the country and other Gulf states "descend both from African slaves and the Arabs who traded and owned them", the Reuters report stated. 

The museum is an old white-washed house whose courtyard which was once crowded with East African slaves waiting to be sold.

Videos and audio panels chronicle Qatar's role in a lucrative slave-trade network extending across the Indian Ocean and the ordeals of its victims: men pressed into risking their lives pearl diving in Gulf waters and workers brought by force from Africa to work on oil rigs after World War Two.

Antique photos show black slaves standing beside masters and their camels, adopting the flowing robes and waist-belt daggers that marked their slow entrance into Arab culture.

Citing Reuters' report, Arabian Business, stated an image of Nepalese labourers in blue overalls on a Doha building site carries the caption: "Many construction workers in rapidly industrializing parts of the world, especially the Gulf region, are considered to be contractually enslaved".

The museum explicitly links historic slave-trading to human trafficking and bonded labour.

"The story of slavery did not end in 1952," Adullah said.

"People need to focus on human exploitation today and how we can change that." 

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