Years prior to the discovery of the nation’s liquified natural gas (LNG) depositories, Qatar’s economy was dependent upon the pearling industry. Each day, men would dive to the bottom of the sea, both literally and metaphorically holding their breath in the hopes of returning to the water’s surface with something as beautiful as it is valuable, a pearl. Though the apex of the pearling industry in Qatar is long gone, dhow boats still float along the Corniche as a reminder of what once was.
Qataris’ desire to remain connected to their country’s history is not limited in scope to the visibility of these vessels, but is also apparent in the art researched and created by contemporary Qatari artists. Pearls of Wonder: a digital era, an exhibition now on display at Qatar America Institute of Culture, was curated by Dr. Bahaaeldin Abudaya, Curator of Contemporary Art, Qatar Museums. the exhibition features the work of five Qatari artists who explore the country’s rich and involved history of pearl diving and its related traditions and culture through a contemporary lens. This multi-sensory exhibition will be on display at QAIC for the remainder of 2023.
On Friday, June 2nd, we were delighted to host a reception for QAIC members, VIPs and our generous sponsor, Excelerate Energy, who made the exhibition possible. The evening began with opening remarks from QAIC Executive Director, Fatima Al-Dosari. Fatima extended her sincere gratitude to the exhibition’s sponsor, Excelerate Energy, whose Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs, Derek Wong, took to the stage to share a bit about Excelerate Energy and how their mission aligns with QAIC’s. We were honored that US Ambassador to Qatar, Timmy Davis, also kindly shared a congratulatory remarks via video.
Business executives and Ambassadors alike enjoyed the musical accompaniments of Dana al-Fardan, who, along with the Doha Film Institute, provided us with the music and visuals which played throughout the evening, as well as some sea-themed treats such as sushi, caviar and the evening’s signature QAICtail, the “Pearly Wonder.” The group of valued stakeholders were then treated to a private tour of the exhibition under the guidance of QAIC’s Director of Programs, Laila Abdul-Hadi Jadallah. Through video, audio and virtual reality technology, our guests were exposed to a time when Qatar was the most important pearl producer in the world, harkening back to a time when the tradition of pearl diving and its subsequent trade shaped the economic trajectory of the region.
Later in the evening, we opened our doors to the larger DC community. It is with great joy that we can report that in its first evening alone, Pearls of Wonder was viewed by nearly 400 people. Our team looks forward to welcoming even more guests in the months ahead.
Pearls of Wonder was originally presented at Lavan 541 in New York City in 2021 during the Qatar – USA Year of Culture 2021. To learn more about the exhibition, click this link to our Pearls of Wonder: a digital era exhibition webpage.