Celebrating at Art of Athletics

On Tuesday, February 14th, QAIC hosted the Art of Athletics festival, featuring virtual and in-person segments throughout the day. The morning session highlighted a Zoom conversation with celebrated Olympic swimmer and UNCHR Goodwill Ambassador, Yusra Mardini. The Q&A session touched on Mardini’s experiences fleeing the Syrian civil war, her breakthrough in the sport of swimming and how she sees her role of representing refugees around the world.  

Following QAIC’s conversation with Mardini was an in-person session with partner, S.T.E.A.M. Your Dreams. Children were invited to participate in a tech and art eSports workshop, including storytelling, e-gaming and exercise. Guests were also invited to learn about the contemporary history and culture of robotic camel jockeys from the Gulf and play traditional Qatari board games.  

Guests also toured our many exhibitions on display including our newest arts and technology exhibition, Research Labs, from VCUarts Qatar and our Perfumery Museum.  

Special thanks to Yusra Mardini and S.T.E.A.M. Your Dreams and to all those who came out.   

The festival coincided with Qatar National Sports Day. 

About Yusra Mardini

Syrian refugee and Olympic swimmer, Yusra Mardini, was appointed the youngest ever at age 19. Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN agency working with refugees, in April 2017. She advocates for refugees globally by sharing her own inspiring story. As a powerful voice for the forcibly displaced across the world, Yusra is an inspiring example of the resilience and determination to rebuild lives and contribute to their host communities. 

Yusra fled conflict in Syria when she was just a teenager, making the treacherous sea journey to Europe with her sister, Sara. When the engine on their boat stopped working mid-crossing, the sisters and two others jumped into the water, guiding their dingy to safety. This act of courage saved the lives of everyone onboard. 

After finding refuge in Germany, Yusra was selected to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics as part of the first ever Refugee Olympic Team. Having written about her ongoing struggle with being identified as that of ‘refugee’, she became the proud flag bearer for the team. She was catapulted onto the world stage, addressing world leaders at the UN General Assembly, meeting Pope Francis and honored with numerous awards. Yusra competed once again for the Refugee Olympic Team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Yusra’s incredible story is told in her memoir, Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian – My Story of Rescue, Hope and Triumph, and in the Netflix film, The Swimmers, released in November 2022. 

About S.T.E.A.M Your Dreams

STEAM Your Dreams is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that delivers STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), eSports school club leagues and national tournaments. Their mission is to impact the pipeline of scholarships for underserved youth and communities through edutainment (educational entertainment). They engage, inspire and empower elementary and middle-school children through STEAM-based eSports and eGaming. Their primary goals are to promote reading and math literacy, inspire creative problem solving, and encourage children to go into inclusive, diverse STEAM careers such as the gaming industry. To learn more, visit: https://steamyourdreams.org.