Official opening of Qatalum
His Royal Highness The Crown Prince began his official visit to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates today. The opening of the Qatalum aluminium factory – a key cooperative project between Norwegian and Qatari industry – was one of the highlights of the day’s programme.
Norwegian industry has conducted activities in Qatar since the 1960s, especially in the areas of shipping and oil and gas production. Trade between Norway and Qatar is on the rise, and the visit by the Crown Prince, who is leading a large delegation from Norwegian trade and industry, will help to further strengthen relations between the two countries.
Crown Prince Haakon and His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, presided over the formal opening of the facility. The ceremony consisted of readings from the Koran and a films recounting Qatalum’s history and featuring several speakers , including the Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, Trond Giske. A musical interlude during the opening was provided by Helene Bøksle, a Norwegian vocalist, who was accompanied by a Qatari musician who played the oud – a local string instrument similar to a lute. Following the opening ceremony, the Crown Prince and Sheikh Hamad were given a guided tour of the facility.
Qatalum, one of the world’s largest aluminium factories, is a collaborative effort between the Norwegian corporation Hydro and Qatar Petroleum. The technology used in the smelters was developed by Hydro’s research division in Årdal, Norway. This type of electrolysis technology is considered to be highly effective and far more environment-friendly than previous smelters.
All parts of the facility are expected to be operational by the fourth quarter of this year. The facility will then have a production capacity of 585,000 tonnes annually and employ about 1,100 people.
The Qatar Norwegian School
Following the opening of Qatalum, Crown Prince Haakon paid a visit to the Qatar Norwegian School, where he was given a tour by Rector Tor Øisang and greeted the children who attend the school. The children had prepared a presentation about life in Qatar, both about their school day and their leisure activities.
Established in 1971, the Qatar Norwegian School is located in the industrial city of Mesaieed. The school’s enrolment is closely linked to the activities at the factories in the area, and there are currently 150 pupils, the highest number since the school opened its doors. Now that Qatalum has been completed, many of the Norwegians in Qatar will return home, and the school expects enrolment to decline in the autumn. The school is known for its high academic quality, and is certified to provide primary and lower secondary education within the Norwegian school system.
Museum of Islamic Art
The Qatari capital of Doha has been named the Arab Capital of Culture for 2010, and the Museum of Islamic Art will be the focal point of the celebration. In the afternoon, Crown Prince Haakon was given a guided tour of the museum, which aims to be a world leader in its field. The collection includes manuscripts, artwork, handicrafts and precious stones from three continents from the 7th to the 19th centuries.
Located on its own island, the spectacular building was designed by the award-winning architect Ieoh Ming Pei, who took inspiration from the Islamic architecture found from Cordoba to Samarkand.
In the evening, the Crown Prince and his entourage travelled on to the United Arab Emirates.
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