Last Saturday morning I listened to a report on BBC Radio 4 by Razia Iqbal about the Qatar Philharmonic. This is the first and so far only symphony orchestra in the Gulf and it is developing an enviable reputation. The great American conductor Lorin Maazel is said to have rated it among the great orchestras of the world. Certainly they seem to have been very received in London as this YouTube clip from their performance of Marcel Khalife’s Arabian Concerto at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 8 April 2010.shows.
The Qatar Philharmonic is just one of a number of cultural initiatives in this tiny kingdom. In her programme Iqbal discussed several of the others grouped in the Katara Cultural Village, a complex of museums, theatres, academies and auditoriums just outside Doha. The cultural village is itself one of a number of other initiatives to transform Qatar's society and economy. Others include the Qatar Financial Centre, the educational cluster with local campuses of no less than 8 first rate universities including University College London and the Qatar Science and Technology Park.
These initiatives complement an active foreign policy and, of course, the international broadcasting service, Al-Jazeera which, together, have contributed greatly to political change throughout the Middle East and North Africa. With a land area slightly smaller than that of Yorkshire and less than half that county's population, Qatar punches well above its weight.
The cultural, educational, scientific and technical initiatives discussed above will flourish only with a strong intellectual property base. Qatar has been a member of the World Trade Organization and hence party to TRIPS since 1 Jan 1996. It is party to the Berne and Paris Conventions though not to Rome but it has signed up to the WIPO Phonograms and Performances Treaty as well as to the WIPO Copyright Treaty. In accordance with TRIPS Qatar has enacted:
- Law No. 7 of 2002 on the Protection of Copyright and Related Rights;
- Law No. 9 of 2002 on Trade Marks, Trade Names, Geographical Indications and Industrial Designs the text of which is available only in Arabic; and
- Decree Law No. 30 for the year 2006 To Issue Patents Law.
Qatar is, of course, party to the Gulf Co-operation Council and enforces patents issued by the the GCC Patent Office in its territories. Patents, copyrights and semiconductor topographies appear to be the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice while trade marks, designs and geographical indications are the responsibility of the Ministry of Business and Trade.