Expressions Series Recap

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.


Expressions Chicago


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.



Expressions Houston


In February 2020, QAI hosted a lecture, “The Arabian Horse: Lore & Legend” with Houstonian and renowned Arabian breeder, Michael Byatt, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.


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:

Centuries before Qatar became one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, it was known for its prized Arabian horses that were often traded to voyagers among the sea routes of the Silk Road.

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.