UK: UCL branch in Qatar to specialise in archeology

University College London (UCL) will open a campus in Doha, Qatar, next year which will specialise in Arab and Islamic archaeology. The top-ranked university is the first from the UK to open a branch in Qatar.

Some 150 students a year will eventually be involved in research and masters degrees in archaeology, conservation and museum studies at UCL Qatar (UCL-Q).

A range of training courses will also be provided for Qatari museum and heritage professionals, the university said after an agreement was signed last week by UCL, the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA).

The idea is to develop Qatar "as an international centre of excellence in research in archaeology, conservation, cultural heritage and museology," the announcement said.

UCL will also relocate to Qatar four existing research projects on the Gulf region and set up additional research programmes relevant to the Arab world.

UCL-Q will join mainly US branch campuses and HEC Paris at Doha's Education City. UCL staff will also teach at Qatar University and some of the US universities.

"We are special in the Qatari market because we are the first ones to really focus on postgraduate teaching and research. All the existing American universities are primarily focused on undergraduate training, and do relatively little in terms of research," said Thilo Rehren, a professor at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, who has been leading the development of UCL-Q.

Michael Worton, UCL Vice-Provost, said UCL-Q would be "a bridge between the Arab world and the West in terms of discussions and debates about cultural heritage, the relationship between the past and present, and the nature of national and individual identities".