The Best Is Yet To Come
Dearest QAI Friends,
We wanted to share a note of thanks for your support, along with an update on our most recent news and developments.
In these challenging times, we are reminded of what matters to us the most: You.
We at the Qatar-America Institute (QAI) are truly honored and appreciative of your continuous desire and enthusiasm to be part of our growing community. As an independent nonprofit organization, your trust, support, and contributions are what empower us to fulfill our mission and have a positive impact. Together, we are able to further accentuate the cultural ties between Qatar and America.
Since QAI’s inception three years ago, we have experimented with many different ventures and opportunities to find what you value the most. From photography competitions to food festivals and interfaith dinners to art exhibitions, we learned to listen as we grew as an organization. Over the past eight months, we have been actively reflecting on these experiences and planning our next chapter.
QAI evolved from a 501(c)(4) civic organization that focused on political, economic, and social issues to a 501(c)(3) public charity focused on cultural activities that further the arts, education, and charitable community-focused pursuits. To accompany this evolution and further its aims, QAI welcomed a new Board of Directors that has invaluable expertise and prestige in the worlds of culture, art, business, and academia. Collectively, our new Board of Directors and staff are excited to make these new changes to better serve you. We are happy to announce that the Qatar-America Institute (QAI) is officially embarking on a new path forward as the Qatar America Institute for Culture (QAIC).
To help us deliver on our vision, we are in the process of relocating to a grand historic building situated at the heart of Washington DC’s DuPont Circle neighborhood. Our new space will be a unique destination in the nation’s capital evoking history, curiosity, beauty, and serenity. Our ‘Bayt,’ Arabic for home, provides ample space for artists, creatives, designers, and storytellers from the United States, Qatar, and the wider Arab and Islamic world to both create and showcase their work. To complement our renewed focus on culture, we are revamping both the style and substance of our brand identity, including our logo, digital properties, and social media channels. Furthermore, we are refining and redesigning our programs to align with the values and mission we strive to reflect. Last but not least, we are offering new professional opportunities to further grow our team.
We hope this message has sparked your interest and excitement to be part of this change. We recognize how the pandemic has presented the arts and culture sector with a new reality, but with your support and our new cultural identity, we are confident that we will be able to genuinely create a difference together. We are eager to reveal more details over the coming months as we continue on this journey. Thank you again for being part of our community, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, ideas, or potential partnerships by using the contact form below.
The Qatar America Institute for Culture
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.
QAI’s Expressions Artist Talk series features a variety of American personalities, artists, and creatives who have lived or worked in Qatar and whose works were inspired and influenced by Qatari culture.
An art and culture talk, Expressions aims to highlight the intersections and cultural connections that tie the American and Qatari people through storytelling. American creatives and cultural experts are invited to speak about their unique endeavors and artistic work, showcasing how they were inspired by Qatar as a country, culture, or society.
Whether in filmmaking, literature, fashion design, or music, speakers will delve into presentations and conversations that express their artistic journey and experience in Qatar.
The Expression Artist Talks Series is a recurring public creative dialogue. The guest speakers share their own experiences and reflections, followed by questions and answers from the audience.
In June 2019, QAI hosted a lecture, “The Contemporary Architecture of Qatar” with noted author and architectural critic, Philip Jodidio. The talk was held in Chicago, representing QAI’s first engagement with a major Midwestern city and cultural hub in the US.
The lecture was moderated by former Senior Associate Dean of Northwestern University in Qatar, Richard J. Roth. After a presentation by Jodidio, a dialogue on contemporary architecture and urban development in Doha, Qatar.
The event gathered Chicago area architects, engineers, business leaders and students for an overview by Mr. Jodidio that included discussion of Qatar’s state-of-the-art museums and internationally acclaimed original architecture including the I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art; the Qatar National Library; Msheireb Downtown Doha with significant design and sustainability innovations by Chicago-based architects and engineers.
Expressions Artist Talk: Philip Jodidio – Contemporary Architecture in Qatar
Architecture In Qatar:
Qatar’s rapid economic growth and emergence as a global city-state have resulted in a surge in the construction of aesthetically superior buildings designed by renowned domestic and foreign architects.
The construction of modern iconic buildings was accomplished with an eye to balancing the identity and heritage of Qatar with the functional, climatic and sustainable demands of large- scale buildings.
The focus on the preservation of identity infused with modern architectural styles has resulted in the emergence of a distinct Arab architectural style in Qatar.
Click here to download the full factsheet.
Byatt, of Michael Byatt Arabians, is an internationally known Arabian horse breeder and rider who helped develop the Arabians at Qatar’s Al Shaqab Equestrian Center, which has influenced breeding worldwide. Established in 1992, Al Shaqab has bred seven World Champion stallions, who have flown regularly between Qatar, Europe, and the United States, living for many years.
The program was moderated by Diana Untermeyer, author of “Qatar: Sand, Sea, and Sky” and cultural advisor to QAI.
Expressions Artist Talk: Michael Byatt – The Arabian Horse: Lore & Legend
Qatar and the Arabian Horse:
As early as the Sasanian Empire (224 – 651 AD), archeological evidence points to the export of trade goods, including pearls and horses, from Qatari villages to ships navigating the Gulf.
Find a brief overview below of both the cultural and historical significance that the Arabian horse has on the people of Qatar.
Click here to download the full factsheet.
Expressions in Washington DC
In February 2020, QAI hosted “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 DC 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.
Expressions Artist Talk: Marco Williams – Fostering Multiculturalism in Film
Film in Qatar:
Qatar’s rich history of art and culture has been complemented by a burgeoning film industry in the modern era. With an emphasis on contests, festivals, and programs, the film is gaining more prominence in Qatar’s cultural ecosystem.
Through support from private and government-sponsored organizations like the Doha Film Institute and Qatar Foundation, amateur, and professional filmmakers have seen Qatar become a regional player in the Arab and international cinematic scene.
With major events like the Doha Tribeca Film Festival garnering global attention and Qatari films winning prestigious festival awards, Qatar’s cinema credentials are increasingly a point of national pride.
Click here to download the full factsheet.
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.
The outbreak of the coronavirus (covid-19) has meant the closure of public spaces, business establishments, and self quarantining in countries around the world. With 439 confirmed cases in Qatar, officials are taking all necessary measures to ensure safety for all citizens. This has meant the closure of public spaces, business establishments, and cultural programs. Qatar Museums has closed all of its museums, including cultural programs, initiatives, and workshops, until further notice. People have been advised to stay indoors, to stop the spread of the disease and keep those most vulnerable safe. For those with access to wifi, you are still able to enjoy the riches of art and culture through virtual tours.
Working alongside the Google Cultural Institute, both the Museum of Islamic Art and MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art give virtual tours. Museum of Islamic Art was one of the first institutions to work with Google Cultural Institute; an initiative started in 2011, that is currently in partnership with over 2,500 cultural institutions, allowing visitors from around the world to visit exhibitions and collections archives all around the world. The tour offers galleries and information on the work exhibited. Guests can enjoy the comfort of their own homes.
(Image Source: Wikipedia)
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)