Faculty and students from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) brought a splash of creativity, goodwill – and colour – to the FIFA Club World Cup 2020™ activations recently held across Education City.

The activations were held in the run-up to, and during, the tournament matches held at the Education City Stadium.

Sonali Raman, Adjunct Faculty of Fashion Design from VCUarts Qatar, was the moderator for a panel discussion on ‘Traditional Fashion’, organised by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) on 1 February on the Quranic Garden at Oxygen Park, while students from the university’s Graphic Design department – Naima Almajdobah, Asmaa Al Mannai, Sara Raessi, Nadia Jabari and Maryam Al Muftah – captured the messages shared by football fans on their way to the matches.

Cultural exchange

The panel discussion was part of SC’s efforts to promote cultural exchange among nations competing in the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™, focused on enhancing understanding and appreciation of culture and heritage of participating nations including host nation Qatar.

SC invited guests that represented the nations in the tournament – Brazil, Germany, Egypt, Mexico, South Korea and Qatar – to present the traditional and folklore outfits from their respective countries.

Panel Discussion VCUQ FIFA Club WC

Participants in the panel discussion included well-known Qatar-based Mexican actress, influencer, social activist and former model Yezenia Navarro; popular Qatari fashion and contemporary designer Elham Al Ansari, ethno-archaeologist who specialises in Arabian archaeology Shaima Sherif; 19-year-old Brazilian journalism student at Northwestern University in Qatar Mariana Araujo; and Egyptian fashion entrepreneur and Noire Group CEO Abla Sebak.

According to Raman, the event was an opportunity to explore and understand the cultures and traditions that defined the costumes of the countries that the ladies represented, including Qatar’s fashion heritage.

She said that Qatar’s cosmopolitan outlook translates into a mosaic of many cultures living harmoniously and learning much from each other. In this regard, the country truly is a microcosm of the world.

Sporting events like the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020, according to Raman, bring together different cultures on a grand scale and throw the spotlight on all the diversity that exists in Qatar, giving everyone a chance to get a deeper insight about them. She said that such evenings of inter-cultural exchange help us all to share and embrace other cultures including local Qatari traditions.

Mural of hope and pride

Influencer Abdulla Al-Ghamdi  Football fans on their way to the Education City Stadium to watch the matches were seen enthusiastically sharing personal wishes of hope, inspiration, pride and goodwill with graphic design students of VCUarts Qatar stationed near the periphery of the match venue.

The students collated the messages into giant murals of brilliantly coloured stylized fonts, onto whiteboards placed there specifically for the purpose.

Naima Almajdobah, a Class of 2022 junior, and one of the VCUarts Qatar students who were on-site shared the experience – and her own excitement. She said that they were lucky to meet famous social media influencer Abdulla Alghafri, who also shared his messages – and hope – for a better world. Naima said that Alghafri personally took part in the artwork, writing the message ‘Invest in yourself’ in Arabic on the canvas.

It was definitely a special moment for me. He took a video of the mural and shared it on his personal Instagram and Snapchat accounts, so that those unable to attend the event, could see what we were creating.

An air of bonhomie and camaraderie, according to Naima, was reminiscent of life before the COVID-19 pandemic, with people walking around and cheering for their teams – the atmosphere pulsing with laughter and positivity.

Art helps capture such moments of happiness and hope; this knowledge, I believe, is what motivated fans to come forward and share their personal feelings with us, allowing us to make those sentiments part of an artwork that will mark the occasion for eternity.

For more information about VCUarts Qatar, visit qatar.vcu.edu

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