Qatar Museums this week announced the appointment of Zeina Arida as the new director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, the leading institution of modern and contemporary art in the Arab world.

Arida comes to Mathaf from the Sursock Museum in Beirut, where she served as director since 2014. She will succeed Abdellah Karroum, who has concluded his tenure as director of Mathaf and is now the Special Curatorial Advisor to Sheikha Amna Al Thani, the Acting Deputy CEO of Museums Collections and Heritage Protection for Qatar Museums and Director of the National Museum of Qatar. The new role will allow Karroum to undertake independent academic and curatorial projects internationally.

Zeina Arida

An expert in the arts, culture and heritage of the Arab world with a focus on photography, archives and modern and contemporary art, Arida reopened the Sursock Museum after a ten-year renovation and expansion. She initiated local and international partnerships, presented exhibitions, public programmes and library and archives programmes, and turned the museum into a local and international landmark.

After the museum was damaged by the Beirut blast in 2020, she raised more than US$2.5 million for the reconstruction of the building and the restoration of the artworks. From 1997 to 2014, Arida was also the director of the Arab Image Foundation, where she co-initiated MEPPI, a strategic multi-year programme designed to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the region’s photographic heritage. She will work side-by-side with Karroum for a period to facilitate a smooth transition.

Qatar Museums CEO Ahmad Al Namla welcomed the new director, adding that Arida will bring her deep experience and distinctive vision to Mathaf to guide the institution into its next decade.

Arida said she was honoured to be chosen to lead the exceptional institution.

I am excited to begin working with the staff, the Qatar Museum leadership and the outstanding artists of Arab background within the region and around the world, as we build on Mathaf’s achievements of the past years.

Karroum, meanwhile, said he was privileged to have led Mathaf as director for the last eight years.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mathaf, I am proud of the museum’s achievements and progress during my tenure. I am confident that the museum will continue to flourish under the new director, Zeina Arida. I wish her every success in the future.

Karroum joined Mathaf as Director in 2013. A curator, researcher and cultural instigator born in Morocco, he came to Mathaf after serving as associate curator for La Triennale, Paris (2012) alongside the late Okwui Enwezor and as artistic director of the Biennale Benin (2012). He first came to prominence as the founder of L’appartement 22, an experimental space in Rabat for exhibitions and artists’ residencies, established in 2002.

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