Over the course of this week I had meetings at both the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The meetings contrasted the ongoing relevance of print resources in Qatar legal research while eGovernment and open access is in full implementation.My first meeting on Wednesday was at the ICT with Mr. Hassan Al Sayad. In addition to many other duties, he is in charge of an almost completed project of establishing a comprehensive legal portal to Qatari Law. The aim of the legal portal is excellent from a public access to law perspective and will provide full text access to primary Qatari legal materials. The legal portal will provide multiple formats of the documents, including Adobe PDF that preserves the integrity of the Arabic language better than HTML formatting. The database will be searchable by title, keyword, citation and other standard field searches. Also, translation is provided and material will be in English and the original Arabic, of course. Mr. Hassan was kind enough to provide the offer of early access to the database to me for comments and usability.
My second meeting was with Mr. Mohd Bin Younes at the Ministry of Justice. He is head of the Gazette and codification efforts in Qatar. I enjoyed this meeting very much and obtained a complete catalog of Qatari primary law available from the Gazette Department. This includes bound yearly compilations of the Gazette, subject specific compilations in hard bound and soft bound format, and the ongoing regular editions of the Gazette. Examples of subject specific titles include corporation law and e-commerce for Qatar. All resources in print are in Arabic and available retrospectively.
The presence of ICT’s legal portal to Qatari primary law does not, in my opinion, make the collection of these print resources unnecessary. As Mr. Mohd indicated, the print version is the official version of edicts, regulations, rules, and selected cases, and the electronic versions are not as reliable and are not official. Not yet. Using the electronic and print source together will provide the best combination of search, translation, and authenticity.