Qatar Museums announced the programme for the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture, featuring a host of performances, exhibitions, sporting and culinary events, photography projects, residency and volunteer programmes, and more.

Inaugurated in 2012 by Qatar Museums Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Years of Culture initiative is an annual bilateral exchange that deepens understanding between Qatar and another nation and its people through a year of cultural programming.

In a special focus this year based on Qatar’s experience in developing its creative and cultural economy, the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture will give emphasis on projects that will enhance the creative and cultural industries in both countries, focused on sustainable, long-term partnerships.

Qatar Museums has been at the centre of building the country’s cultural infrastructure, opening new possibilities for the nation’s people and economy by nurturing the creative and cultural industries, which make up an ever-larger portion of the global GDP. This sector represents an especially strategic investment for emerging economies such as that of Indonesia, where the creative and cultural economy already accounts for 7% of the country’s GDP and is expected to grow, according to the Indonesian Agency for the Creative Economy.

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said there is much that the two nations can recognise in one another, including both their roles in the Muslim world.

We look forward to an exciting year of cultural exchanges, in which we both continue to develop our burgeoning creative and cultural industries.

HE Indonesian Ambassador to Qatar Ridwan Hassan said that Indonesia and Qatar have enjoyed excellent relations based on common faith and mutual interests. Today, he said that our world needs such multilateral cooperation and it begins with empowering people to interact, learn and celebrate each other.

This is why Years of Culture programmes are crucial to strengthening ties between nations. Indonesia welcomes the opportunity to celebrate our robust partnership with Qatar through the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture.

Aisha Ghanem Al Attiya, Director of Cultural Diplomacy for Qatar Museums, said that the Indonesian national motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity perfectly expresses the spirit of the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture. She said that through the many programmes to be held in both nations, the two countries will weave together a tapestry of relationships that are as varied as they are strong and resilient.

New Southeast Asia Galleries at MIA

The year officially kicked off with a reception at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), which houses a spectacular collection of Indonesian artefacts in new galleries dedicated to Southeast Asia (17 and 18).

The galleries are now open to the public and remind visitors that the region today is home to the largest Muslim community worldwide, highlighting the connection between different cultures through exhibits on the trade of commodities and the exchange of ideas across the Islamic World and beyond. Displays feature beautiful Indonesian gold jewellery and textiles.

MIA Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs Shaika Nasser Al-Nassr explained that at MIA, they tell the story of the spread of Islam around the world and its influence on art and culture. The new MIA makes that story complete with the addition of galleries in the Indian Ocean region and Southeast Asia.

Museum of Islamic Art

Shared passions and traditions

Ramadan will offer an opportunity to embark on special culinary journeys in both countries. Indonesian chefs will infuse traditional ingredients into the menus of several restaurants in Qatar during Ramadan, while special culinary demonstrations will take place at the ongoing Qatar International Food Festival.

At the same time, Qatari cuisine and traditional celebrations like Garangao will make their way to Indonesia. Collaboration around the shared passion for food will continue over the summer when two Qatari and Indonesian chefs travel across Indonesia on a culinary journey.

The Years of Culture has also partnered with Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) to organise a volunteer trip for a group of young people from Qatar to work with school children in Indonesia.

A special theatrical presentation of HAYATI (Tree of Life): Searching for The Essence of Love, organised and presented by Indonesia’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology. Created especially for this Year of Culture will be presented in Qatar this year. The production will be a visually stunning exploration of the ties between personal identity and cultural traditions.

In Indonesia, participants from both nations will join in a cycling tour to the world’s largest Buddhist temple in Borobudur, located in Central Java. The tour will culminate with a festive dinner and the presentation of a traditional Qatari performance, highlighting the shared passion of the two cultures for sport, cuisine and the performing arts.

Hidden Treasures from Indonesia (MIA)

The longest-running exchange programme of the Qatar Years of Culture, the Photography Journey, will be organised this year with the support of the Jakarta International Photography Festival (JIPFEST). A pair of Qatari and Indonesian photographers will capture images of traditional practices, documenting and preserving intangible cultural heritage in both countries. An exhibition of photographs by the participants will be presented in Qatar and Indonesia later in the year.

In the fall of 2023, the Years of Culture team is set to organise a cultural extravaganza in Qatar celebrating shared traditions of craftsmanship and hospitality. Major events will celebrate vibrant cultural traditions in both Qatar and Indonesia during Workshop Month (September), a special exhibition celebrating the two nations’ shared appreciation for the rituals of hospitality and coffee-making at the National Museum of Qatar (October), participation in the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (October) and the return of the annual Cultural Festival at Flag Plaza celebrating Indonesia as this year’s partner (November), as well as film screenings in both countries.

Emerging artistic voices of Qatar and Indonesia

The year’s special emphasis on fostering the creative and cultural industries will be carried out through a three-month-long residency programme, pairing Qatari and Indonesian designers to encourage direct engagement between emerging talent from both countries.

These collaborative residencies will provide opportunities for Qatari product and fashion designers to discover traditional Indonesian craftsmanship from local masters in jewellery design and metalworking and embroidery. Mentors and locations were carefully selected from regions of Indonesia best known for these specific areas of expertise: Tasikmalaya (embroidery) and Sumba (metal ornamentation).

Each residency will challenge participants to consider issues of waste management and sustainability in their choice of materials and designs.

Final products will be introduced at prestigious festivals celebrating Indonesian culture and design, including the Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design (ICAD) festival in October-November 2023, the Jakarta Fashion Week in October 2023, as well as a monumental year-end exhibition at the National Gallery in Indonesia.

Artworks by some of Qatar’s brightest emerging contemporary artists will travel to Indonesia as part of the ARTJOG 2023 festival, which asks participating artists to reveal the intent and motivation behind their work through various interactions, discussions and silahturahmi (a concept based on Islamic practices about keeping or mending ties between family or kin adopted by Muslin communities in Indonesia) with artists.

Additional community events and celebrations will be announced throughout the year at

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