On September 16, 2019, the Qatar America Institute for Culture hosted a launch event in New York City for its inaugural FOCI Photography Program, a three-month long contest, that aims to broaden cultural awareness between the United States and Qatar through the creative lens of Qataris, Americans, and other that have interest in the region.
The FOCI Photography Program welcomes submissions from photographers that creatively depict and interpret the theme of “The U.S.-Qatar Journey,” which is to say they highlight the intersection of American and Qatari culture through cultural and educational partnerships and joint ventures in the areas of healthcare, environment, and innovation.
Hosted at the historic Explorers Club, an institution with a long history of travel and discovery, the event welcomed guests of various creative and cultural backgrounds, influencers within the social media travel space, as well as tourism media.
While the primary purpose of the event was to bring awareness to the FOCI program, the event also served as an introduction to the cultural heritage of Qatar with the help of a gallery of Qatari cultural landmarks, select Qatari artworks, and a “virtual reality” experience that immersed guests into 3D depictions of the 2022 World Cup stadiums being erected in Doha, Qatar.
Present at the launch was the guest of honor H.E. Nasser Ibrahim Allenqawi, the Counsel General of the State of Qatar to New York, who gave remarks to the crowd about the importance of cultural programs like FOCI which allow people to share in the exchange of creative ideas and narratives that would not be as effective through alternative mediums outside of the realm of the arts.
Mr. Allenqawi went on to quote Her Excellency Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, who said that “in such a place [like Qatar] where many cultures intersect and people cohabit peacefully and in harmony, the value of cultivating an open mind is paramount.”
In addition to the strong cultural ties between the United States and Qatar, Mr. Allenqawi also went on to mention the established educational partnerships between the two nations, one being New York’s own Weill Cornell Medicine whose Qatar branch donated various giveaways to the event.
QAIC was also grateful for the participation of Qatar Airways at the event who provided guests with helpful information should they be interested in making Qatar a travel destination in their future. The event concluded with a raffle where several lucky guests won a book on Qatar’s cultural legacy, as well as a Qatar Airways model Boeing aircraft compliments of Qatar Airways.