Sheikha Al Mayassa takes on ‘negative’ Qatar press with art and culture – Doha News

Eighty new public art works are being installed across the country and various exhibitions are set to take place in Doha.

Qatar has been the subject of negative press by those who have yet to experience the Gulf state, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani said at the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF) on Wednesday.

“I think we’re trying to show the diversity of the Arab world, but also we want people to experience Qatar as it really is. There’s such negative press about Qatar, which is fairly inaccurate of people who actually have never been to Qatar,” said Sheikha Al Mayassa.

The senior Qatari official’s comments come in reference to a wave of criticism that has emerged from – mainly from the west – since the Gulf state won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup more than a decade ago.

Doha has under the global spotlight mostly for issues related to migrant workers and labor laws. However, authorities say the introduction of historic reforms, including the dismantling of the Kafala system and the region’s first minimum wage law, have been largely dismissed and ignored by critics.

In her discussion on Wednesday, Sheikha Al Mayassa referenced the speech of Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at the World Economic Forum (WEF).

During his remarks, the Qatari leader took aim at the unfair criticism of the Gulf state – the first to host the FIFA World Cup in the Middle East.

“For decades now, the Middle East has suffered from discrimination. And I have found that such discrimination is largely based on people not knowing us, and in some cases, refusing to get to know us,” said the amir last month.

Echoing the amir’s statements, Sheikha Al Mayassa said that “the World Cup serves as a step towards unifying people” while opening up conversations between those coming from different cultural backgrounds.

“The World Cup is a great opportunity to celebrate people and celebrate our differences to have those conversations, even if these conversations are difficult, even if you may disagree on those conversations,” added the Qatari royal.

Growing arts scene

As the chairperson of Qatar Museums (QM), Sheikha Al Mayassa has been at the forefront of transforming the local arts scene.

With Doha edging closer to kick off in November, the arts institute has geared up efforts to lead initiatives designed to showcase the Arab world and Qatar to millions of incoming visitors.

Sheikha Al Mayassa revealed that 80 new public art works are being installed across the country, noting various exhibitions are scheduled to take place for the big event.

“We have an amazing exhibition in collaboration with the Baghdad museum as well as other museums in Europe and the US. It’s talking about the 500 years of the Abbasi empire when Baghdad was a capital of the Islamic world,” said the QM chairperson.

Other exhibitions lined up include the Labor of Love exhibition with the Palestinian museum, focusing on textiles from the illegally occupied land. The initiatives led by the museums authority also fall under the Qatar National Vision (2030).

“We’ve created a 25-year plan that fits perfectly in that vision of developing the human capacity that we have in Qatar and the region,” noted Sheikha Al Mayassa, adding this aims to introduce the country to foreigners in a more authentic manner .

One initiative includes the activation of heritage sites, including the abandoned Ain Mohammed village.

“One particular project that I’m very excited about is Ain Mohammed, because the people who are activating that village are actually descendants of the original families and tribes who lived there many centuries ago,” said the Qatari royal.

Seeking to bring out key elements of the Qatari culture, authorities are planning on installing 1,000 “Bedouin style” tents in the desert for World Cup fans. An exhibition for nomadic tents will also welcome visitors during the global event.

“For the World Cup we’re opening an exhibition on nomadic tents, because we’re very proud of our past and it connects the regions of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. And that’s going to be the highlight of our programme,” said the QM official.

Meanwhile, Sheikha Al Mayassad also revealed a major announcement to the audience at QEF, in which she confirmed new desert artwork by Icelandic–Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. This will follow an exhibition in Doha next March at the National Museum of Qatar.

While foreign artwork continues to flock into the country, the Gulf state is also keen on ensuring support for local artists in different industries, from filmmakers, to craftsmen.

“We depend very much on the organic role of our culture and society,” Sheikha Al Mayassa said.

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