On 18 July 2018, the Qatar-America Institute hosted Qatar-based author Dr.Mohana Rajakumar for the Institute’s inaugural Expressions Artist Talks Series. This program aims to amplify American voices whose creative works are inspired by their experience with Qatar. Throughout the year, QAI will host American filmmakers, art curators, authors, chefs, singers, painters and many others to discuss the impact Qatar had on their work, while sharing their stories of living and traveling to Qatar.
Dr. Rajakumar, a South-Asian who grew up in America who currently resides in Qatar, is a professor at the VCUarts Qatar campus in Doha and the author of various books in the romance, crime, and academic genre. She claims that Qatar feels like home because, “it is like America, it’s a melting pot because there are people from everywhere.”
The highlights of her presentation included her research on Qatari culture for her books, including the role of the majlis in Qatari society, life in Qatar, the importance of global literature, the effects of the blockade on expats, and the Emir’s role in making expats feel included.
Dr. Rajakumar claims:
“Things have changed a lot in terms of how nationals and expats interact. We have much more of a sense of ‘we are all in this together.’ The Emir has come out very publicly – almost nonstop – throughout the year and said, “we work together, I am proud of my Qataris, but I am also thankful for the expats,” and that’s meant a lot.”
The full video of her presentation and Q&A can be found below:
Expressions Artist Talk: “Pearls of the Past” with Dr. Mohana Rajakumar
On 12 July 2018, VCU Alum visited QAI for Qatari and Mediterranean cuisine, networking, and a special presentation from two recent graduates who participated in the leadership exchange program at the VCU campus in Qatar. The night began with a warm welcome from Josh Hiscock, the Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations at VCU, who discussed the impactful role of the exchange program that sends sixteen students every year to Qatar. The Doha campus opened its doors 20 years ago and was the first American university in Education City; VCU now has 63 faculty and 677 alumni.
Danielle Johnson, a recent undergraduate who is starting at the VCU Brandcenter graduate program, participated in the exchange program in the fall of 2017. This fully funded program allowed her to experience the Qatari culture firsthand, attend a senior fashion class, and even ride a camel. “We grow while we are there and go back and teach others,” said Danielle as she reflected on the daily discussion sessions throughout the week. VCU hosts an annual “Qatar Day” which celebrates the arts and culture of Qatar, which Danielle mentioned allowed her to recreate her experiences living in Qatar.
Hanan Kourtu, a recent undergrad in social work, participated with Danielle in the exchange program. She discussed the importance of attending courses prior to going abroad to learn about cultural norms, the region, and what they would be experiencing. She believes that the greatest part of the program is that the sixteen students selected represented the diversity of the VCU campus with undergrad and graduate students in mixed academic programs. Her takeaway was that both the Richmond and Doha campus are welcoming to all and prioritize diversity. While the students were abroad they helped with “Richmond Day,” – a day that brings the life and culture of VCU’s main campus to its Doha campus – in which the main campus students taught the Qatari students school chants and ate traditional American cuisines such as hamburgers and fries.
Hiscock, concluded the evening by stating that Qatar Day and Richmond Day, two festivals that celebrate cultural understanding in each campus, occur in the fall semester. In addition, the exchange program sponsors Qatari students to come to the Richmond VCU campus in the spring semester to show off their fashion designs.
Connecting the Richmond and Doha campus is a main priority for VCU and they aspire to continue this exchange program for future years. QAI was happy to provide an evening of networking and cultural exchange for all VCU alum!
Virginia Commonwealth University – Qatar | Facts & Figures
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On July 12, Qatar-based author & Virginia Commonwealth University – Qatar professor, Dr. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar appeared on the John Fredericks Radio show. During the show, Dr. Rajakumar commented on her personal views, the usage of her literary work to explain the perspectives and experiences of people of Qatar, and the perspectives of Muslim women in both Qatar and the West.
You can watch a recording of her interview here, below.
Dr. Mohana will also be speaking at the Qatar-America Institute on her latest work and her experiences, here in Washington, DC. Details and registration for the event are given at the link below.
Fatima explained the impact the ongoing blockade on Qatar has had on her as an artist, and how she has expressed the resulting pain endured by her country through her work.
Fatima is an artist-in-residence at the prestigious Fire Station in Doha, Qatar. She is also a featured artist in Ruwad, Qatar-America Institute’s ongoing collection of pioneering contemporary arts of Qatar in the United States.
On June 27th, Secretary-General to the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, spoke at the book launch of HERstory: Celebrating Women Leaders in the United Nations. This initiative was sponsored by Qatar and Colombia to highlight UN women trailblazers. Among them include the first women to serve as Under-Secretary-General, Lucille M. Mair, and the first women to head peacekeeping operations, Margaret Anstee.
The history we learn at school, that is celebrated in public monuments and events, tends to be a very partial history. It is the history of men…Raising awareness of women’s contributions is an essential part of correcting the imbalance in our culture that has historically undervalued women’s contributions and women’s work.
The Secretary-General believes that more could be done to remove the barriers constraining women from top UN and diplomatic leadership positions. Internally, the UN works to ensure that events are programed with a gender perspective to be inclusive and inviting to all.
This is not simply about the fight for gender equality… From peace and security to development to human rights, greater inclusion is the key to our success – bringing new perspectives, different leadership styles, greater innovation and, ultimately, a more effective organization.
Qatar’s support for equalizing the playing field for women is represented on a global scale.
The University of Maine signed a memorandum of understanding with the Academic Bridge Program (ABP), a Qatari initiative preparing students for university study. The MOU is designed specifically to assist Qatari ABP students transition to programs at UMaine across majors.
ABP is a branch of the Qatar Foundation and has graduated nearly 3,000 students.
Orlina Boteva, director of the UMaine Office of International Programs, said,
We are very pleased to partner with ABP… We look forward to developing a deep and long-lasting relationship with ABP, and look forward to welcoming ABP graduates to campus. International students contribute so much to our university, and we’re proud to be home to a diverse group of students who gain valuable experience in the classroom and across campus.
Georgetown Announces New Executive Master’s in Leadership, Policy, and Innovation with Qatar Leadership Centre
Georgetown Announces New Executive Master’s in Leadership, Policy, and Innovation with Qatar Leadership Centre
Beginning in Fall 2018, the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business will offer an Executive Master’s in Leadership, Policy, and Innovation, in a joint effort with the Qatar Leadership Centre.
The Qatar Leadership Centre (QLC) is a Qatari institution established to support leadership abilities in talented Qatari professionals. The new Georgetown degree was developed in response to the desire of QLC graduates to incorporate QLC programs into a graduate degree.
The new Master’s program is available to qualified QLC graduates and will allow them to build on their experience with QLC National Leadership Programs. The program lasts nine months and features modules in D.C., Doha, and online coursework.
Georgetown University President John DeGioia announced the new agreement and program, saying,
Through this agreement, we have sought to provide the best possible contexts for alumni of the Qatar Leadership Centre to develop the skills and talents that will enable them to lead and manage effectively… Our ongoing engagement in Qatar remains integral to our work of becoming a global university, as we ensure that all our students are fully prepared to be knowledgeable and compassionate global citizens and leaders.
The prestigious Pulitzer Fellowship was awarded to three reporting fellows at Northwestern University in Qatar. They will be investigating human rights violations within the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan with the aid of the Pulitzer Center with the hopes of raising awareness.
Dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar, Everette E. Dennis said:
“Students involved in hands-on reporting and scholarly research develop a real sense of what their careers and future work environments will be. With the Pulitzer Center’s support, our students have the opportunity to travel in Pakistan and India to report on some of the world’s most disregarded, yet important, issues.”
Previous fellows have taken a special interest in India and Pakistan with topics including the death penalty, anti-terrorism laws, and climate change.
Georgetown and Qatar Leadership Centre Launch Executive Master’s in Leadership, Policy, and Innovation
Starting in September 2018, Qatar Leadership Centre and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business will jointly offer the Executive Master’s in Leadership, Policy, and Innovation. QLC alumni are qualified to participate and turn their program certificates into a graduate degree.
Georgetown will tailor its already established Executive Master’s in Leadership to fit the needs of students in Qatar, while growing their own global alumni network.
Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia:
“Our ongoing engagement in Qatar remains integral to our work of becoming a global university, as we ensure that all of our students are fully prepared to be knowledgeable and compassionate global citizens and leaders.”
This new program will allow Qatari citizens to advance their own development, while utilizing their new level of theory and practice to create solutions to various global challenges.
Qatar Leadership Centre (QLC) is an initiative of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar. QLC was established by His Highness Sheikh Tamim to be a national platform for leadership excellence, in support of the development goals of the State of Qatar. His Highness saw QLC as a center of excellence for developing leadership and creating knowledge, in support of the human, social, economic and environmental pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030. The National Vision highlights the fact that Qatar cannot fully develop its economy and society without its human capital and chief resource– its people.
As part of its Ramadan program for this holy month, QAI hosted friends and families for its final Iftar on June 12th, 2018 focusing on the message of “Islam, Culture & the Arts.” This Iftar sparked conversations about popular traditions seen in Qatar and throughout the Middle East while allowing our guests to experience them firsthand. Arab culture is a set of shared traditions and beliefs that unites most of the twenty-two countries in the Middle East.
While guests waited to break their fast, they enjoyed Ebrahim El Subaie’s calligraphy work and had the opportunity to have their name scripted by the artist himself. Anisa Mohammad showcased her henna designs while sitting in QAI’s Qatari majlis. Guests also enjoyed a live Oud performance by Muaz Edriss.
The evening kick started with a warm welcome from Douglas Smith, former Assistant Secretary of DHS under President Obama and member of QAI’s Board of Directors, who spoke about Gulf Bridge International, the largest Qatari owned private network in the Middle East. Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim Chaplain at Georgetown University and Founder and President of Clergy Beyond Borders, who was awarded the James Gettemy Significant Ministry Award in 2002 for his work in progressing the relationship between the followers of the three Abrahamic religions, shared some comments, and gave the evening prayer.
Imam Yahya Hendi shared his story of becoming the first full-time Muslim Chaplain at an American university. This story included the purpose of his hiring which was mainly to educate non-Muslim students, faculty, and staff about the Muslim faith, while also serving as a resource to Muslim students. In addition, the Imam educated the audience about Ramadan’s goal and the true meaning of Iftar. “The word Iftar comes from the word open. To open our hearts & minds. Iftar everyday reminds me that the sky’s the limit. To dream and think big. That Jews, Christians, and Muslims can come together!”
With only one day left of Ramadan, we’d like to be the first to say Eid Mubarak and we hope you enjoyed our 2018 Ramadan Iftar Series!
The QAI Iftar Series is made possible thanks to the generous support of Gulf Bridge International.