Tasmeem Doha 2019, the international art and design conference recently hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) in Education City, concluded its three days of exciting workshops, talks and exhibitions by renowned artists and designers from the region and around the world.

VCUarts Qatar campus was transformed into a mini design district with creative, quirky and impressive installations and artsy kiosks all around the central foyer. The entrance had a striking display of colourful ribbons with colours transitioning from orange to purple. Attendees passed through this creative entry as they entered the university during the three-day event.

The theme of the conference was Hekayat (stories) and it was co-chaired by four VCUarts Qatar alumni: Hadeer Omar, Noha Fouad, Wajiha Pervez, and Yasmeen Suleiman.

Tasmeem Doha 2019 organisersVCUarts Qatar Executive Dean Dr Donald Baker, said Tasmeem Doha has been a very effective way to bring students and faculty members together around common interests and concerns, providing a shared body of ideas, observations and experiences to fuel an ongoing dialogue.

Swalif Sessions, Workshops and Exhibitions

Featured speakers included prominent artists and designers such as Ahmed Alrefaie, an illustrator and graphic designer from Kuwait, and Rana Beiruti, director and co-founder of Amman Design Week. Founder and Principal of Adjaye Associates, Sir David Adjaye, OBE, was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony. An architect with an artist’s sensibility, his largest project to date is the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.

Attendees had the opportunity to meet and engage with the speakers through the ‘Swalif Sessions’, where the speakers gave more detailed insights into their respective fields to a smaller and more concentrated audience.

Tehran-based artist Ali Phi’s exhibition ‘QAL, the anti-carpet’, and his audio-visual performance of ‘Elemaun’, combined stunning visuals inspired by Persian motifs with rhythmic electronic beats, a sampling of the ritual music of Iran.


Workshops during Tasmeem Doha included everything from Palestinian embroidery and architectural imagery and typography, to a workshop incorporating cooking and woodworking, as well as sculpting, virtual reality, calligraphy, coding, and T-Shirt design, facilitated by Gary Webb, Samer Fouad, Armor Gutiérrez Rivas and the 2015/16 VCUarts Qatar Artist-in-Residence Nastassja Swift, and by students from VCUarts Qatar and the university’s home campus.

Graphic design students performed live loops of their works during ‘Sonic Jeel’ (sonic generation) to great acclaim. Sonic Jeel was a design course and pseudo record label exploring systems of sound using small portable synthesizers and sampling.

Dean Baker gave a heart-warming closing speech, expressing his gratitude to the four co-chairs and everyone else involved in making Tasmeem Doha 2019 a massive success.

Organised by young people who know our programmes and what students and others would like to hear and discuss, it has been unfailingly attractive to our students, alumni and members of the arts community in Qatar. I have personally enjoyed hearing and meeting the speakers.’

For more information about the recent Tasmeem Doha 2019, visit the VCUarts Qatar website at qatar.vcu.edu.