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Qatar museum welcomes 'all' amid Gulf dispute


Doha (AFP)

Qatar's multi-million dollar national museum which opens Wednesday welcomes "all the people", an official said amid a simmering political dispute that has isolated Doha from its neighbouring former allies.

Qatar's ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani is set to officially open the museum, built at an estimated cost of $434 million, on Wednesday evening.

The vast museum was originally scheduled to open in 2016 -- a year before Saudi Arabia and its allies cut all transport and diplomatic ties with the energy-rich kingdom.

Sheikha Al-Mayassa Al-Thani, chair of Qatar Museums and an influential member of the ruling royal family, said that the blockade had no effect on their 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.

"We are more than proud of this achievement."

The ceremony on Wednesday is expected to include a number of dignitaries, including Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

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

Qatar rejects all charges and says the blockade 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 the country's wealth and ambitions.

French architect Jean Nouvel designed the desert rose-shaped museum, calling it an "ambitious project".

"It's a building that becomes a destination, it's a building that has to be an icon," he told AFP on Wednesday.

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