Archaeological project in Qatar halted

University of Copenhagen to discontinue prestigious project because the Arabic country did not pay as agreed

Al Zubarah is a UNESCO-protected merchant town dating back to the mid-18th century (photo: Aurel Cuvin) Al Zubarah is a UNESCO-protected merchant town dating back to the mid-18th century (photo: Aurel Cuvin)
February 8th, 2016 1:14 pm| by Lucie Rychla
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A large-scale archaeological co-operation between the University of Copenhagen (KU) and state of Qatar may cost the already financially-stricken Danish institution millions, reports Universitetsavisen.

Researchers from the university’s department of cross-cultural and regional studies have since 2009 been working with the wealthy Arabic country on the excavation of the buried ruins of Al Zubarah, a UNESCO-protected merchant town from the mid-18th century, which is famous for pearl fishing.

Qatar agreed to employ 20 researchers from the department and pay KU some 200 million kroner for a project scheduled to continue until 2019.


Did not pay 
However, the excavation works had to be stopped and the Danish researchers returned home because the Qatar Museum Authority did not pay as promised.

In 2015, the KU department had to register a loss of 24 million kroner in a provision.

Had it worked as planned, the Al Zubarah project would have been KU’s largest ever externally-funded humanities research project.

The Financial Times has recently reported that the Qatar Museum Authority had to lay off 400 of its 1,200 employees due to falling oil revenues.

Meanwhile, the University of Copenhagen has laid off 500 employees and announced that 13 courses at the department of cross-cultural and regional studies will not continue in the next academic year due to austerity measures requested by the government.