On the eve of Ramadan, the Qatar-America Institute was fortunate enough to be able to contribute to those in need during these unprecedented times. This Ramadan season, QAI is providing support to the nonprofit organization Tables Without Borders to assist in their mission of providing jobs and access to their community of refugee chefs and numerous others coping with the economic uncertainty brought by the rise of the coronavirus.
Tables Without Borders assists refugees and asylum-seekers in establishing their new lives in the United States. Their efforts are aimed at rebuilding the lives of these refugees and asylum-seekers “through the power of food.”
They accomplish this mission by pairing refugee and asylum-seeking chefs with restaurants where they participate in a paid culinary internship and a special dinner dedicated to showcasing the cuisine of the respective chef’s home country.
The most recent goal of the organization is to provide 1,500 meals that will be donated to out of work restaurant workers, at-risk immigrant communities, and various other parts of the general population who are at an adverse risk during these times.
This week’s meals were prepared by Chef Williams from the Ivory Coast. Chef Williams spent several years in France developing his culinary skills and cooked this week’s meal inspired by the flavors of Morocco. He prepared buttered couscous, seven vegetables in a tomato sauce to go on top, and lemon and herb grilled halal chicken.
During this week’s outreach with Chef Williams, Tables Without Borders was able to sponsor around 600 meals that were distributed to the clients of CASA (a non-profit organization in DC that mainly serves Latin American clients).
Last week, Syrian couple Abo Yaman and Randa, along with the assistance two furloughed restaurant workers were able to prepare over 500 meals inspired by Syrian cuisine and given to various at-risk organizations throughout the Washington area.
Those 500 meals were disbursed to families and staff at Jubilee Housing (an affordable housing community), N Street Village (homeless and low-income shelter for women), and a local church that coordinated distribution with CASA.
Prior to that, another 170 meals were prepared by Ethiopian chef and refugee Haimonot and disbursed to feed night shift workers at Howard University Hospital, with the remaining meals going to a temporary homeless shelter in Arlington, Virginia (a suburb of Washington D.C).
You can assist this organization in reaching their goal by donating at their GoFundMe page.
This year, the auspicious month of Ramadan will be very different compared to previous years due to the rise of the Coronavirus and the various health precautions adopted to curtail the damage that stems from the Coronavirus. In an effort to engage the spirit of Ramadan, take a quick look back at how QAI celebrated this month by gathering members of our community and bringing the various cultures and religions that make up the fabric of our society.
In 2019, the Qatar America Institute (QAI) in partnership with DC Scores and America’s Islamic Heritage Museum hosted an Interfaith Poetry Night and Iftar to celebrate Ramadan with DC community members at its Washington DC headquarters.
With over 100 guests in attendance, including students, artists, and law enforcement, the event featured an interfaith poetry night followed by an Iftar (breaking the fast). The event presented a special opportunity to celebrate and appreciate poetry and its influence across cultures, continents, and religions and build understanding and awareness in the community around Ramadan and Islamic practices in Qatar and the United States.
Student poets from DC Scores; Ja’Quan, a student at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and Yanina, a student at the Maret School, and published American-Muslim author and poetess, Hawa Fuseini, performed their poetry ahead of the breaking of fast dinner.
The Executive Director of the Qatar America Institute noted that: “Events such as this Iftar highlight the strengthening reliable partnership between the United States and Qatar. As we gather to break the fast, we note the relationship between the two countries stretches from art, culture, sports, economy and growing interfaith links, and we celebrate the educational ties of scientific and cultural advancement that six American universities in Qatar’s Education City are solidifying every day – a mission that has been – for centuries – at the center of the Islamic tradition’s rich history of cultural enlightenment. This year we mark Education City’s class of 2019 and the particular milestone of Texas A&M’s campus in Qatar graduating its 1000th student.”
The Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum (FBQ Museum) announced that it was calling for submissions from artists in Qatar for an exhibition that will be premiered after the crisis stemming from the Coronavirus. The museum announced an open call for all artists in the country to take part in an exhibition titled “Artists in the Time of COVID-19 Crisis.”
The Director of the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Museum, Kees Wieringa, said that “since the time the museum temporarily closed its doors in mid-March as part of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it has taken the opportunity to work on the amazing collection and design a new museum experience.
He specifically stated that “we are preparing the new FBQ Car Museum and we are also working on digitizing the collection of artifacts which will be accessible through our new software that will be available for you online to view our unique collection and use it for research.”
The museum, established in 1998 as a non-profit museum foundation of public interest, is home to a growing collection of more than 50,000 objects collected covering four major themes: Islamic Art, Qatari Heritage, Motor Vehicles, and Coins & Currency covering over four continents and spanning several different time periods.
Qatar’s Philharmonic Orchestra, an organization under the Qatar Foundation umbrella, performed a virtual performance to entertain those currently housed indoors to limit the spread of the Coronavirus and to encourage others to do the same. The orchestra members, from the comfort of their living room, performed “the second movement from Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No.9 (From The New World), which was adapted into a song called Goin’ Home, in their living rooms.”
The Executive Director of the Orchestra, Kurt Meister, stated that “we wanted to show people that, despite the current situation, the orchestra is still working, still rehearsing, and still preparing for the time when we can all come together again.”
The performance can be viewed below or at the following link.
American Artist KAWS collaborated with Acute Art to create an app called COMPANION (EXPANDED). The idea for the app came from the project EXPANDED HOLIDAY, the new augmented reality project consists of a global public exhibition as well as entirely new AR sculptures that users can display, view, photograph, and share through the Acute Art app. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the COMPANION version was created for users to use in the comfort of their own homes.
KAWS is a multimedia artist based in New York City, and his works have garnered him global recognition. He is a multimedia artist having done murals, paintings, and large scale sculpture.
This year, in January 2020, KAWS debuted an inflatable large scale sculpture on the dhow harbor in Doha, Qatar. He was commissioned by Qatar museums to carry out an exhibition ‘He Eats Alone,’ which showcased his work spanning his twenty-year career at the fire station venue near the harbor.
Acute Art collaborates with some of the world’s most compelling artists to find new avenues via technology to share their creative vision through the digital mediums, including augmented and mixed realities.
The new Acute Art app allows users to discover and become interactive with KAWS’ artwork through augmented reality. The app engages audiences that might not have a relationship to art in the traditional sense, taking the experience out of the gallery and into our homes.
The app is free to download until April 15th through the Apple Store and Google Play.
The number of coronavirus cases is increasing around the world, which has led to the inevitable order for a majority of people to stay indoors and self- quarantine. While we stay inside here’s an alternative option for entertainment; virtual tours. You can view art from famous museums around the globe digitally, at home. Google Cultural Institute has partnered with over 2,500 cultural sites to offer online access to collections and online exhibits. Here is a list of some of the best art museums that the US and Qatar have to offer.
You can access these virtual museum tours at the following link.
Guggenheim, New York City
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City boasts a collection of Impressionist, Post- Impressionist, Early Modern, and contemporary works, as well as temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Located on the National Mall, the Gallery’s collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, medals, and decorative arts traces the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present, including the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas and the largest mobile created by Alexander Calder.
J Paul Getty Museum
Also known as The Getty Museum, is located in Los Angeles, and has two campuses located in Getty Villa and the Getty Center. The primary museum, Getty Center, houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, decorative arts and photography from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, gathered internationally. The Getty villa hosts collections of Ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
Located in Doha, Qatar, the museum celebrates the modern and contemporary, showcasing works by artists based in Qatar, the Middle East, and the international Arab diaspora. The museum offers an Arab perspective on modern and contemporary art. It is considered to be one of the most important cultural attractions in the country.
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute is located in Chicago’s Grant Park, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. It houses some of the most iconic pieces of art by abstract artist, Pablo Picasso and post-impressionist artist Georges Suerat. As an art institute it has one of the largest art history and architecture libraries in the country.
Museum of Islamic Art
The museum is built on an island off of an artificial projecting peninsula near the traditional dhow harbor in Doha. It is one of the world’s most complete collections of Islamic artifacts originating from Spain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India, and Central Asia.It holds Islamic art from three continents over 1,400 years.
The MoMA, Museum of Modern Art
The museum is located in midtown Manhattan and is considered one of the most influential museums of modern art in the world. MoMA’s collection offers an overview of modern and contemporary art, including works of architecture and design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, illustrated books and artist’s books, film, and electronic media.
The Met Is the largest art museum in the United States, located in Manhattan, New York City, and is the third most frequented art museum in the world. The permanent collection consists of works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt, paintings, and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and modern art.
Marchitecture is an annual month dedicated to Qatar’s architecture and Urban Design. Open to Culture Pass Members, the month-long tour, and series of workshops showcase Qatar’s beautiful buildings and cultural sites. Its mission is to highlight the importance and beauty of the country’s architectural history and future. The program gives members exclusive access to cultural experiences in a variety of locations.
Qatar has seen notable growth in its architectural landscape, with the juxtaposition of traditional and modern aesthetics. This year the tour focuses on the Modern Day Architecture of Qatar. The program, already underway began with an in-depth overview of the Qatar Foundation building. The series will go on to review and inform the program participants of various other architectural attractions that Qatar has to offer from Msheireb Downtown to the Weill-Cornell Medicine Campus in Education City to the Qatar National Museum. The Culture Pass allows members unique insights on the unique path of modernity Qatar has utilized in its practice of design and construction of infrastructure.
Qatar Museums created the program as part of their cultural programs, which provides members with access to various tours, workshops, and talks tailored to their artistic interests. To become a member, visit the Qatar Museum’s website.
(Image Source: Qatar Museums Website Graphic)
QAI is honored to announce new members joining its Board of Directors, as well as the Board’s new Chairwoman, Peggy Loar replacing the interim Chair, the Honorable Douglas Smith. QAI’s Board of Directors now consists of both Qatari and American professionals who will help bring QAI to the forefront of the US-Qatar partnership and position our institution to expand its footprint across the United States. Moreover, they bring a wealth of knowledge stemming from a deep understanding of the US-Qatar partnership. These perspectives, shaped by their experiences in a wide array of fields dealing with art, culture, and academia, will help propel QAI’s renewed cultural mission forward.
Our new Chairwoman, Peggy Loar, is a museum professional with global experience in museum planning, and program development, museum architecture and design, and museum leadership. From 2008 to 2013, she served as the founding Director of the new National Museum of Qatar, in Doha, designed by Jean Nouvel, where she brought 30 years of experience in museum planning and management, exhibition design and educational programming to the Qatar Museums Authority.
Members of the Board:
Dr. Sheikha Al-Misnad is an academic who has occupied numerous positions in teaching, administration, and research for over three decades, including the presidency of Qatar University from 2003 to 2015. Ashraf Abu-Issa is a Qatari businessman and the Chairman of AbuIssa Holding. Dr. Khalid Ibrahim AI-Sulaiti is currently the General Manager of Katara Cultural Village Foundation and brings 20+ years of progressive experience in academia, marketing, and management positions spanning several sectors. Sandra (Sandy) Bell Wilkins has had a career in fashion since 1968 and was the Chair of the Fashion Department at VCUQatar from 2005 to 2016.
Christopher Nixon Cox and A.T. Smith, both members of QAI’s founding Board of Directors continue to serve the organization under its new mission.
The Qatar-America Institute hosts its’ Expressions Artist Talk in Washington on both creating and teaching documentary filmmaking with renowned filmmaker Marco Williams and Michael Dyson.
The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) hosted their Expressions Artist Talk, “Fostering Multiculturalism in Film: Reflections & Lessons as a Film Professor in the Arab World,” featuring renowned filmmaker and Northwestern University professor Marco Williams at its Washington office.
Most recently, Professor Williams completed a film called “The Undocumented” – a PBS broadcast/ Independent Lense featured documentary. In 2007, Williams directed and produced “Banished,” a movie that documents African-American descendants’ experiences as they return to the former homes that earlier generations of their families were once evicted from.
The program was moderated by Georgetown professor Michael Dyson, who serves as a regular commentator on National Public Radio, MSNBC, and CNN. Professor Williams discussed his teaching experience while at Northwestern University’s Qatar campus.
As part of his discussion, Williams exhibited his students’ short series Naseeb. Naseeb examines the plight of a young woman as she pursues her dream of becoming an architect against the wishes of her mother, who instead wants her to be married.
The screening of the series served as a jumping-off point for the two academics as they discussed how the students’ creation served as a reflection of the complexity within various parts of Arabian Gulf society and, in general, the greater Muslim world.
Other aspects of the discussion centered around issues of patriarchy within both the West and the East; how one can teach without allowing Western bias to seep into the classroom; and how to best discuss sensitive issues through the usage of Film as a medium.
Fostering Multiculturalism in Film” was a part of QAI’s Expressions Artist Talk series, which features American personalities, artists, and creatives who have lived or worked in Qatar and whose works are inspired and influenced by Qatari culture. The guest speakers share their own experiences and reflections, followed by questions and answers from the audience.
Doha Film Institute (DFI) and The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) partnered on a delegation to Los Angeles to highlight Qatar’s role in supporting Arab Cinema and MENA region filmmakers during Oscars week.
Los Angeles, CA – February 16th, 2020: The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) joined together with program partner the Doha Film Institute (DFI) for QAI’s Expert Voices delegation to Los Angeles during the 2020 Oscars week. Expert Voices Series, a QAI initiative sponsored by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (S.C.), invites experts from Qatar as a medium for encouraging broader and more diverse conversations and collaborations between Qatari experts with U.S.-based leaders in the fields of culture, sports, and technology. This month’s Expert Voices delegation to L.A., focusing on film, consisted of DFI’s CEO Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, QAI’s Executive Director, Fatima Al-Dosari, and Abdullah Al-Mosallam, Deputy Director of Ajyal Film Festival and Chief Administrative Officer of DFI.
The delegation’s objective aimed to highlight Qatar, a major investor in the U.S. and soon-to-be home to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as a force in the film industry via the Doha Film Institute. In addition to showcasing the nation’s role in supporting and championing films, filmmakers, and creatives from the region, the Expert Voices delegation solidified existing relationships and fostered new ones in California. The Expert Voices trip to L.A. presented an opportunity for QAI and DFI to act on their new partnership and join together in strengthening the voices from the region, through the power of films and storytelling, and by engaging in conversations on the importance of female empowerment and multicultural representation.
Fatima Al-Dosari, Executive Director of the Qatar America Institute, said, “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to join our partner, the Doha Film Institute, in L.A. to champion the three Qatari-backed films that were recognized at this year’s Oscars: the DFI-granted films The Cave and Brotherhood and the Al-Jazeera Witness supported film St. Louis Superman. We are also excited to showcase the strong ties between Qatar and the U.S. through its investments and partnerships in California, In fact, these ties will continue through Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will bring over $10 billion worth of business to U.S. firms, followed by a close handover from 2022 in Qatar to 2026 in the United States.”
The delegates met with industry leaders in Los Angeles ahead of attending the 2020 Oscars, where two of DFI’s supported films were nominated: The Cave, a Syrian civil war film directed by Feras Fayyad was nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category, while Brotherhood, a Tunisian film by Montreal-based filmmaker Meryam Joobeur, earned a nomination under the Best Live Action Short Films category.
Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said, “Bridging the gap between east and west cultures is at the forefront of Qatar’s public diplomacy, so we are very grateful for this opportunity to further strengthen our ties with our peers in America. Our commitment to supporting global storytelling has given volume to important new voices, and we are proud to be associated with a diverse range of films that have won critical acclaim and top honors at the world’s leading film events. Arab cinema is in a good place right now due to the efforts of our emerging filmmakers who continue to bring our stories to the rest of the world, with unique perspectives that promote cross-cultural exchange and encourage dialogue and discourse.”
The activity-filled week included a meeting at City Hall with City of Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch’s office to discuss Qatar’s pivotal role in the state of California, a relationship that extends beyond the financial sphere into the fields of arts, sports, technology, education, and entertainment. His Excellency Khalid Al Sada, Consul General of the State of Qatar in Los Angeles, hosted a dinner at his home in honor of the DFI-funded films, joined by the producers behind the Oscar-nominated film Brotherhood and special guest Brigitte Lacombe, an esteemed French photographer.
The delegates also enjoyed a private tour of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, prior to attending The International Feature Films of the 92nd Oscars Reception, spotlighting the nominees for Best International Feature Film. QAI and DFI were also honored to join the exclusive luncheon celebrating the female Oscar nominees hosted by fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. The event toasts women’s empowerment with a special focus on von Furstenberg’s InCharge movement and the Academy’s Women’s Initiative.
QAI also partnered with Deborah Sawaf, CEO & Founder of the luxury handbag brand, Thalé Blanc, to host a High Tea and Talk on multiculturalism and female empowerment in the creative and tech industries, with special guest speakers DFI’s Fatma Hassan Alremaihi and the CEO and Founder of The Female Quotient, Shelley Zalis. The event gathered members of the L.A. community to learn about Qatar’s role in advancing women’s rights in the Middle East, DFI’s work in supporting MENA region representation in the international film community, and the importance of promoting women in the technology and creative fields.