Qatar is known as the home to some of the most major artworks in the world. The push for art and design acquisitions largely began in the mid-2000s. The country has held major exhibitions of some of the world’s most notable artists including Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, Richard Serra, and Louise Bourgeois, among others. American-Chinese star architect I M Pei was enlisted to design the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), one of the country’s most iconic landmarks. The royal family collect some of the world’s most expensive artwork. The family was reportedly the buyer of both Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players, for USD250 mn in 2012, and Paul Gauguin‘s When Will You Marry, sold for a reported USD300 mn in 2015 — two of the most expensive art deals in history.
In addition, Qatar is home to various artists that have made their mark both locally and regionally.
HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani
Sheikha Al Mayassa is the sister of The Amir, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and the 14th child in the Qatar royal family. She chairs Qatar Museums (QM), which manages the country’s art collection and museum landscape. Sheikha Al Mayassa holds a degree in arts and political science from Duke University and is fluent in Arabic, French and English. As the chair of QM, she has overseen the recent purchase of works by Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko, as well as a record-setting USD250 mn for Cezanne’s ‘The Card Players’. The organisation’s annual acquisitions budget has been estimated at USD1 bn.
Sheikha Al Mayassa is also Chairperson of the Doha Film Institute (DFI) which partnered with the Tribeca Film Festival to produce several annual iterations of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. In February 2013, they announced a USD100 mn feature film fund with Participant Media, a production company founded by billionaire Jeffrey Skoll, who was the first employee and also first president of internet auction firm eBay.
Time, Forbes and Arabian Business have named her one of the 100 most powerful and influential women in the art world.
HE Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani
HE Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani is a Qatari artist, collector, researcher and an educator in the field of modern art in the region. He is the Vice Chairperson of QM, Advisor for Cultural Affairs at Qatar Foundation (QF), and founder of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. In the early 1990s, HE Sheikh Hassan started building a collection of modern and contemporary art, mainly focusing on the region and its historical and cultural connection from North Africa to Asia and from Turkey and Iran, which led to the creation of Mathaf.
Abdulaziz Yousef Ahmed
Abdulaziz Yousef Ahmed is a Qatari cartoonist and animation artist who is known as Temsah, which means alligator in English. He holds a fine arts degree, which he received in 2001-02 in the US. He then became a professional cartoonist in 2007. Using cartoons, he works on engaging campaigns to promote serious issues such as road safety in Qatar. Abdulaziz and fellow Qatari cartoonist Abdulaziz share a cartoon column in one of Qatar’s major Arabic newspapers, Arrayah, and run a cartoon-dedicated company together called Qartoon.
Ahmed bin Majed Al Maadheed is a young contemporary artist who recently became one of Qatar’s most prominent artists for his iconic portrait of The Amir, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, widely known by its name as Tamim Al Majd (Tamim The Glorious). The portrait became a nationwide phenomenon when Ahmed shared his artwork on his social media platforms right after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt initiated the Qatar blockade. The portrait can still be seen across Qatar on cars, homes, buildings, companies, popular landmarks and more, as a beacon of solidarity with Qatar. Due to his portrait, Ahmed became a celebrated artist in Qatar, and gained nationwide and international recognition. Ever since, he has held exhibitions across the country. In addition to founding his own media company, Notion Media, Ahmed has been involved in many media related projects such as animations, making TV series, adverts, media campaigns and producing artworks on large frames.
Ahmed Al Jufairi
Ahmed Al Jufairi is a Qatari artist known for pushing the boundaries of self-expression and toying with the concept of freedom. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), majored in painting and printmaking. Ahmed focuses on the beauty of imperfection. He believes that ‘beauty’ and ‘perfection’ are relative terms. He has been known to tackle the subject of social acceptance, arguing that uniqueness and individuality are keys to beautiful innovations.
Ali Hassan Jaber
Ali Hassan Jaber is a Qatari visual artist. In the 1970s, he pursued this passion by becoming a volunteer calligrapher for one of Qatar’s first national newspapers, Jaridat Al Arab. He spent time after university honing his artistic skill by learning printmaking, as well as taking on a course in restoration in Egypt and Belgium. He later began experimenting, producing pieces that focused on black and white Arabic calligraphy. He has experimented with vibrant and luminous colours over the last 15 years while focusing on the Arabic letter ‘N’. For Ali, focusing on one letter alone exhibits the artistic power of calligraphy, proving that one letter can yield wonderful art.
Amal Al Aathem
Amal Al Aathem is one of Qatar’s most well-known artists and founder of 7th Heaven Arts centre. She is also the Counsellor of Ministry of Culture and Sports, representing the country in many international biennials and events. Working with mixed media, Amal‘s outstanding artwork has taken her to art festivals and exhibitions around the world including Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain, Morocco, the US, Italy, Japan and more.
Bouthayna Al Muftah
Bouthayna Al Muftah is a Qatari visual artist who is considered to be one of Qatar’s most talented young artists. With a background in graphic design, illustration, and printmaking, Bouthayna received her BA from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts, Qatar in 2010. Upon her graduation, she focused her artistic practice on printmaking, typography, and drawing, which evolved into multiple mixed media installations. She applies organic, modern designs to just about anything, from bespoke artisan wrapping paper, to cushions, scarves, and hand-bound notebooks.
Fahad Al Obaidly
Fahad Al Obaidly is a Qatari artist with multiple interests. He has donned the creative role of a fashion designer, filmmaker, stylist and curator. In 2017, Fahad gained international recognition at Berlin’s legendary Kraftwerk space, where his work was showcased alongside other Qatari artists as part of a large-scale exhibition, Contemporary Art-Qatar, presented by Qatar Museums (QM) to mark the finale of the Qatar Germany 2017 Year of Culture programme. The artist’s work has been previously showcased at the Katara Art Centre, Fire Station, and Art 29 gallery at W Doha Hotel & Residences.
Faraj Daham is a celebrity Qatari artist. The visual artist’s work evokes his solitary exploration of civic responsibility towards his present time and space, in a multitude of aesthetically pleasing languages that resists easy categorisation and calls for self-reflection and consciousness of the world surrounding him. Daham, who did his Masters at Ball State University in the US, has had several gallery and museum exhibitions including at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. In addition to having his work exhibited internationally, Faraj has been featured in various articles including ‘World’s Largest Modern And Contemporary Arab Art Collection Visits Spain’ written for ArtLyst in 2016.
Hassan Al Mulla
Hassan Al Mulla is a Qatari artist, described as a ‘pioneer in painting in Qatar’ for his surrealist oil paintings. In addition, he is considered to be one of the leading innovators who has played an important role in establishing the Qatari art movement. Hassan was one of the 18 founding members of the Qatari Fine Arts Society in 1980 and served as its second president. In 2011, he was the vice president of the Qatar Society for Rehabilitation of People with Special Needs. He is a former director of the Department of Culture and Arts, and taught painting at Qatar University. He remains an active and leading member of the Qatar Fine Arts Society and has participated in many exhibitions and festivals of art and culture at local and international levels.
Khalifa Al Obaidly
Khalifa Al Obaidly is the Director of Artist in Resident at the Fire Station and a renowned Qatari photographer. He originally studied marine biology at Qatar University, and underwater photography was one of his earliest formative experiences with the medium. In addition to photography, Khalifa has worked at a number of science and art museums, including the Aquarium at the Qatar National Museum, serving as an assistant director at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), and the Qatari National Council for Culture, Art and Heritage. In addition, he previously worked for Msheireb Properties as the manager of Msheireb Art Center.
Mubarak Al Malik
Mubarak Al Malik is a young interdisciplinary artist most known for for his graffiti artwork. He is behind some of Doha’s well-known graffitis. Mubarak came to the spotlight after painting on the broken walls of an empty lot along Salwa Road. He is also one of six Qatar-based artists to paint the walls of the Fire Station, marking the 100 days of the Qatar blockade. He has been commissioned to produce artwork at Aspire Zone, Qatar Foundation, Katara Cultural Valley, Hamad International Airport (HIA) and other important landmarks in Qatar.
Rashid Al Kuwari
Rashid Al Kuwari is a well-known Qatari cartoonist and animation artist. Using cartoons, he works on engaging campaigns to promote serious issues such as road safety in Qatar. Rashid, along with fellow Qatari cartoonist Abdelaziz Yousef, has a cartoon column in one of Qatar’s major Arabic newspapers, Arrayah, and run a cartoon-dedicated company together called Qartoon.
Sophia Al Maria
Sophia Al Maria is a Qatari-American artist, writer and filmmaker. Her work has been exhibited at the Gwangju Biennale, the New Museum in New York, and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Her first book The Girl Who Fell to Earth (Harper Collins) was published in 2012 and was published in Arabic with a translation by Ziad Ziady in 2015 by Bloomsbury Qatar as Between the Earth and Sky. She now lives and works in London where she writes screenplays for a living.
Wafika Sultan Al Essa
Wafika Sultan Al Essa is a Qatari professional visual artist, specialising in painting and plastic arts. One of Qatar’s most active artists since the 1970s, she was part of a group of artists who sought to inscribe painting in Qatari society and to develop a creative dialogue between artists and other social groups. Wafika’s paintings draw on Qatari folklore, ornaments, songs and natural history, interrogating relationships between men and women and questions of genre. She frequently depicts groups of women and scenes of everyday life with a progressive perspective, as in her early painting On the Coast. Portraying a casual gathering of three dark figures seated on the beach, Wafika explored Qatar’s relationship with the sea and fishing traditions as these were being eclipsed by a burgeoning oil industry.
Yousef Ahmad is considered a pioneer for his significant contribution to the evolution of modern and contemporary art in Qatar. Observing the socio-economic, cultural, artistic and historical developments which Qatar witnessed during the 1970s and 1980s, Yousef set upon himself the responsibility, as an art advisor and educator, to document the development of the art scene in Qatar. He was among the first generation of Qatari artists to study overseas. Yousef’s body of work includes a selection of oil paintings and mixed media calligraphic pieces where he utilises and creates local palm tree paper to his new conceptual artworks. Yousef has won several regional and international awards and honours, and has widely exhibited at art fairs and biennials, gaining him international recognition. He has served as an art advisor for many art galleries in the Arab world. Yousef is a member of the Qatar Award Jury and Hand Papermaking International Board of Advisors; he currently serves as Senior Advisor at the Cultural Advisor Office, Qatar Foundation.
Wadha Al Sulaiti
Wadha Al Sulaiti is an established Qatari artist and fashion designer, specialising in fashion design and visual artistry. Her artwork includes calligraphy and mixed media on textile pieces. Her work has been featured numerously in Al Markhiya Gallery exhibitions. She also founded the Al Roshana Gallery in Doha. Some of Wadha’s fashion designs have been featured in international fashion shows and have become very popular over the years.
Maqdeem and Aisha Al Naama
Maqdeem and Aisha Al Naama are Qatari fashion designers, entrepreneurs and sisters. They are founders of fashion label brand, Maqdeem, which was founded in 2015. Their passion is to empower women with confidence through fashion. Embracing rich Qatari tradition and culture, Maqdeem blends modern style, comfort and Arab cultural values, and a small selection of their collection can be viewed at their outlets. The designers have released collections of coloured abayas, jalabiyas, kaftans and as well as shirts and trousers. Maqdeem also take custom orders for their abayas.
Nada Al Sulaiti (Hairaat)
Nada bint Khamis Al Sulaiti is a Qatari jewellery designer and founder of Qatari jewellery brand, Hairaat Jewellery. She started her career in jewellery design in 2007 when she won her first jewellery design award, and established Hairaat in 2011 to bring a new original Qatari concept of creative luxury pieces, radiating Qatar’s rich culture and blending it with international appeal, creating unique statement pieces. With Hairaat, Nada has become a frequent exhibitor at the annual Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) as part of their Young Qatari Designers (YQD) programme.
Nouf Al Meer (Nouf Jewellery)
Nouf Al Meer is a Qatari jewellery designer and founder of Nouf Jewellery. She established Nouf Jewellery in 2014, creating jewellery that evokes the spirit of feminism and blends western fashion and essentials of oriental feminism. The designer’s pieces reflect both originality and gallantry, and possess the ability to draw the attention of others and render them spellbound. She takes her inspiration from her surroundings: nature and environment as well as her social interaction with people. With Nouf Jewellery, Nouf has become a frequent exhibitor at the annual Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) as part of their Young Qatari Designers (YQD) programme.
Ghada Al Buainain (Ghada Al Buainain Jewellery)
Ghana Al Buainain is a Qatari jewellery designer and founder of Ghada Al Buainain Jewellery. Ghada started designing jewellery in 2012. Within two years, at the age of 22, she created her first collection, Pipe in Gold, based on a mechanical character made up of four main pieces. The brand aims to create a distinctive urban design drawn from ideas emanating from the region. With Ghada Al Buainain Jewellery, Ghada has become an exhibitor at the annual Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) as part of their Young Qatari Designers (YQD) programme.
Leila Issam Abu Issa (Leila Issam Fine Jewellery)
Leila Issam Abu Issa is a Qatari jewellery designer and founder of Leila Issam Fine Jewellery. She channels her creative impulses into her Leila Issam Fine Jewellery line, crafting minimal designs from precious stones. Leila emerges from a prominent Middle Eastern merchant family, whose success and history spans generations. Her grandfather, the late Abdul Salam Abu Issa, was a photographer of the Gulf States’ royal families, publishing portraits of the royals and documented major events for many years. Her design pieces create ultimate adornments for women who are becoming successful in their lives and careers, and demonstrate their feminine inner strength. With Leila Issam Fine Jewellery, Leila has become an exhibitor at the annual Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) as part of their Young Qatari Designers (YQD) programme.
Did we miss anyone? Share your suggestions in the comment box below!
This is part of Marhaba‘s ‘Who’s Who in Qatar’ series. Learn more!
Author: Ola Diab
Copyright © Marhaba Information Guide. Reproduction of material from Marhaba Information Guide’s book or website without written permission is strictly prohibited. Using Marhaba Information Guide’s material without authorisation constitutes as plagiarism as well as copyright infringement.