QNL organizes a conference “Western Travelogues to Makkah”

The Qatar National Library (QNL) recently hosted a conference to shed light on its Heritage Library’s remarkable collection of rare books on Western travelers to the MENA region and the holy city of Makkah from the 17th to 19th centuries.

The rare books, which provide insight into the city of Mecca, the religious pilgrimage itself and the traditional customs of Arabia at that time, were the subject of a lecture by Yousef Al Ansari, the service’s librarian. information QNL.

The event, “Western Travelogues to Makkah,” offered key insights into the culture of the Arab people and the political systems that governed the holy city at the time. He further presented interesting historical descriptions of Makkah and the Haj rituals they participated in.

Al Ansari said, “Travel books are valuable not just because of their rarity, but because they represent historical primary source works of how one culture perceived another culture at the time. That said, they also provide important historical insight into the extraordinary history of traditional Arab culture in the holy city of Makkah, religious practices during the Haj, and the philosophy of the city for the periods mentioned.”

The lecture discussed how the holy city of Makkahecca was first described by Ludovico de Varthema of Bologna, known as Haj Younes. He was the first European traveler to enter Mecca as a pilgrim in 1503 and provide a complete and accurate description of the holy city. Joseph Pitts, a famous Englishman and explorer, is also widely considered to be one of the first Europeans in history to enter Mecca after Ludovico de Varthema. He is credited with the first written account of the Western Route pilgrimage to Morocco, through Egypt to Mecca.

The ‘Western Travelogues to Makkah’ conference is part of the Library’s mission to preserve the nation’s and region’s heritage by developing innovative programs and services that are delivered in a trusted information environment and a technologically exceptional setting.

Angela C. Hale