Noof Al-Naama, a student at QF partner university VCUarts Qatar, talks about her source of inspiration that enabled her to win a design excellence award

For Noof Al-Naama, a third-year student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar – a Qatar Foundation partner university – art is something that runs in the family. Her grandfather is the late Qatari artist Jassim Zaini, who is considered one of the most important modern artists in Qatar.

Growing up, Al-Naama always accompanied her grandfather in his studio, which helped her cultivate a love and passion for art at a young age. She took it upon herself to carry on her grandfather’s journey in arts and pursue a career in this field. And Al-Naama has achieved an important step towards her goal, as one of the recipients of a prestigious award in design.

Al-Naama was honored in the Arab Engineering Bureau (AEB) Awards for Design Excellence – instituted by Ibrahim M Jaidah, GCEO of AEB – with her prize amounting to QAR10,000, for her creative achievements and potential in arts and design. Launched in 2007, the Design Excellence Awards aim to encourage and assist outstanding graduating students from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar’s (VCUarts Qatar) graphic design and interior design departments, as they start their lives as designers and contribute to the community’s art and design landscape.

Al-Naama shares that she joined VCUarts Qatar because she strongly believes in the importance of choosing your field of study according to what you love and what you are passionate about.

This is how we can achieve our full potential and give the best of our abilities. As a child, my grandfather encouraged me to strengthen my artistic talent, and that it was what motivated me the most to study art. I intend to carry my grandfather’s message about the value art to the world.

According to Al-Naama, her decision to specialise in interior design was influenced by the strong impact created by the presence of art inside our homes, and how it creates joy and pleasure for individuals. Al-Naama is also keen to incorporate elements of Qatari culture and heritage into all of her designs.

A single piece of art can help others in getting to know more about our identity and our culture without saying a word… Today, we are witnessing an increasing interest and support for art and artists in Qatar. Art is one of the most important means that contribute to attracting tourists and introducing them to our culture and our heritage, especially now as we are hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Speaking about winning the AEB award, Al-Nama says it was an “unexpected surprise”, especially under the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When I received the email about winning this award, I was shocked. I was thrilled and excited because I was able to make such an achievement happen, despite the challenges that we are living because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This award was a great motivation for me to continue building my career in innovation and creativity in arts. It helped me define myself as a Qatari interior designer, and prove that we are able to establish ourselves in this field and deliver the message of art not only in Qatar, but worldwide. And I feel it shows that, with determination and hard work, we will be able overcome any challenge.

She also acknowledged the support that she received from Qatar Foundation and VCUarts Qatar.

Despite the difficult conditions that the pandemic caused, the doors of communication were always open. Everyone was very supportive and cooperative and helped us with every way possible. I wouldn’t have won this award without the support that I received from my family, teachers and university.

As for her plans and goals for the future saying, Al-Naama says:

“In the early stages of my career, I will work on building my own personality as an artist, and I will try to learn more from the experiences of others as much as possible because Interior design requires a lot of practice before I can launch my own business. I look forward to deliver my own vision and perspective or art to the world, which is that interior design is not just limited to our houses, but it is an art itself.

GCEO of AEB Ibrahim M Jaidah, meanwhile, expressed his admiration to the young artists.

It is my pleasure to have met incredible young local and international talent through sponsoring the 15th cycle of the AEB VCUarts Qatar student awards. I have witnessed the impressive work of young designers throughout the years. Many of the award recipients are making their way in their professional careers and are obtaining important positions in the government and private sector, which makes me very proud. I am sure there is a bright future for this year’s talented winners, and I congratulate them.


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