Qatar unveils Hirst's 'Miraculous Journey'

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The last statue in a series of sculptures titled "The Miraculous Journey" by British artist Damien Hirst that were installed earlier in the week at the entrance to the Sidra Medical and Research Center in Doha on October 8, 2013

Qatar unveiled 14 massive bronze sculptures by British artist Damien Hirst charting the gestation of a human being from conception to birth.

The "Miraculous Journey" statues were uncovered for a day this week outside the Sidra Medical and Research Centre, still under construction on the outskirts of Doha.

They were put back under wraps until January 14 to "protect them while work is ongoing" in the area, the Qatar Museums Authority explained.

The project is an initiative by Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, the emir's sister who heads the museums authority and wants to give a boost to art in the gas-rich Gulf state.

The installation consists of 14 figures which took three years to create, ranging between 4.8 metres (15.75 feet) and 10.7 metres (35 feet) in height and weighing between nine and 28 tonnes each.

They begin with the fertilisation of an egg and end with a fully-formed baby. It portrays the gestation of a foetus.

The unveiling coincided with the Doha opening on Thursday of a first solo exhibition in the Middle East by controversial artist Hirst. Entitled Relics, it runs until January 22.

The exhibition showcases Hirst's diamond-encrusted skull, "For the Love of God," as well as a shark preserved in formaldehyde.

Qatar this month displayed a statue immortalising French footballing legend Zinedine Zidane's headbutt on Italy's Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final on the Doha corniche.

The display comes as Qatar prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.