The Minister of Culture Meets with the Jordanian Ambassador

His Excellency Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Thani, Minister of Culture, met earlier today with His Excellency Zayd Muflih Al-Lawzi, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the State of Qatar.

During their meeting, they discussed frameworks for cooperation between the two countries and ways to support and further develop cultural collaboration efforts, according to a statement published on the Ministry of Culture’s official Twitter account.

The Open Forum Season: Creating Dialogue between Intellectual Leaders and Youths

Next Thursday marks the end of the open forum season organized by the Ministry of Culture. The season, which started on March 17, is organized in collaboration with Qatar University and the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. The forum season includes eight events that focus on cultural, artistic, and intellectual topics with the objective of fostering public dialogue.

A number of writers and academics have expressed their views and assessments of the events, which they described as important for enriching the cultural scene and engaging different sectors of the community. Others saw these events as opportunities to break the traditional molds of lecture series and seminars in ways that stimulate public debate and attract different audiences. Commentators viewed the events as a means to creating an environment that promotes cultural debate in ways that serve the community, promote public awareness, and enrich the cultural scene.

Dr. Rabia Al-Kuwwari: The Season Contributed to Brining Cultural Mobility to the Forefront

Dr. Rabia bin Sabbah Al-Kuwwari, Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Qatar University, expressed his gratitude to His Excellency Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Thani, Minister of Culture, and the organizers of the forum season. Dr. Al-Kuwwari described the events series as a creative way to serve the community and spread cultural awareness. He explained that the value of these events can be attributed to their effectiveness in impacting the national cultural scene and in creating a well-informed public opinion. He stressed that influential decision makers need to be able to rely on the media to send effective messages.

Dr. Al-Kuwwari expressed the view that “such events should be organized on a regular basis throughout the year, rather than on a seasonal basis. The Ministry of Culture started this initiative as an experiment following the success of the Doha International Book Fair. We are indeed proud of this environment that promotes dialogue among writers, intellectuals, media specialists, and academics. It is a culture that encourages the free exchange of ideas and promotes tolerance.”

Dr. Al-Kuwwari was particularly impressed by the forums that focused on the Arabic language. They offered a view of Arabic as an important modern language that enjoys a special status in Arab and non-Arab societies alike. He also attended the forums that focused on identity issues and found them quite thought provoking. He wished there were forums that addressed the issues of Arabic dialects, the influence of foreign languages of them, and the impact of social media on Arabic.

In concluding his remarks, Dr. Al-Kuwwari noted that children’s issues still need more attention. He hoped there would be forums led by specialists in education, child care, and media to explore critical issues such as the language used to target children in media. He recognized the potential of such forums to offer recommendations and solutions.

Shabib Al-Nuaymi: The Cultural Scene is Thirsty for Forums

Poet Shabib bin Arrar Al-Nuaymi, Director of the Qatar Center for Poetry (Diwan Al-Arab), described the cultural scene as thirsty for open forums such as those organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with Qatar University and the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. He believes that such events offer rich opportunities for learning and a valuable means for enriching the cultural scene.

Al-Nuaymi considered the open forums a healthy and unique phenomenon that promotes cultural mobility and facilitates dialogue among various constituencies. In other words, he sees a move away from the restrictive unidirectional format of traditional lectures to open conversations.

For Al-Nuaymi, the open forums bring some critical cultural, educational, and intellectual issues to the forefront, thus promoting awareness among the public. He concluded his remarks by noting that he was quite pleased to see so many young people in the audience. To him, this was an indication that the topics of these open forums address their concerns and aspirations, and that young people appreciate such opportunities and recognize their value.

Jabir Atiq: The Open Forums are a Cultural Festival for Public Dialogue

Author Jabir Atiq commented that the open forums reflect their objective of connecting the public with cultural leaders. For him, the open forums season is a cultural festival that facilitates dialogue between the public and scholars, artists, writers, and innovators. “We are pleased that culture now has a season that sheds light on our cultural products. Scientists explain their discoveries, artists talk about their art, creative writers describe their works, and intellectuals open new horizons and offer new perspectives,” he commented.

Atiq offered the view that the open forums season is a major achievement, especially in the middle of all the shopping and entertainment festivals that have taken the region by storm. “Just like fun has its season, knowledge and learning should have their season as well. We need seasons that enrich our minds, showcase our cultural and intellectual products, and give us the opportunity to meet cultural leaders to learn from them and engage with then in conversation,” he added.

The new format of the open forums caught Atiq’s attention. For him, unlike the one-way communication mode of traditional lectures, open forums create an environment that encourages conversation and the exchange of perspectives. He sees this format as a successful way to reduce the gap between cultural leaders and the public, and give young men and women the opportunity to meet their cultural role models. “No effort should be spared in making the open forum season a success. Our need for knowledge should never be ignored,” he remarked.

Atiq concluded his comments by saying that “it is heartwarming to see such a large-scale cultural event in the same year as the FIFA World Cup, which has put Qatar at the world’s spotlight. The world should know that Qatar is interested in sports, but we have other interests that are equally valuable to us. The open forum season reflects the vibrant cultural scene in Qatar.” He wished the forum season would be replicated in all Arab countries to make cultural, scientific, and literary events a top priority.

Hanan Al-Sharshani: The Events Shed Lights on Contemporary Cultural Issues

Author and researcher Hanan Al-Sharshani started her comments by thanking the Ministry of Culture and the organizers for the open forum season. She sees these forums as a first step toward a cultural movement similar to what Doha experienced in the past when the public could meet with the leading intellectuals of the Arab World to exchange ideas and experiences.

Al-Sharshani added that “through the open forums season, we are renewing our commitment to the service of culture. These events help narrow the gap between different perspectives and between cultural leaders and the public. They also give cultural leaders the opportunity to share their concerns and aspirations and to shed light on critical contemporary cultural issues.”

The Sixth Forum

The sixth open forum, which is entitled Poetry and Songs: Differences and Deteriorating Standards, is scheduled to be held tomorrow at Qatar University’s College of Law. The forum series, which includes eights events, aims to enrich open dialogue about current cultural, intellectual, and artistic issues. It also aims to promote cultural diversity and to give cultural leaders the opportunity to contribute to supporting the Qatari cultural scene. The Ministry of Culture aims to create an environment that supports the role of culture in the service of the community.

 

The Need to Reinforce Confidence in Arab Islamic Civilization

A number of participants emphasized that the Arab countries have the tools to stand on equal footing with the West. After all, the current Western civilization has its roots in Arab civilization. They emphasized the importance of reinforcing confidence in the Arab Islamic civilization and the importance of teaching Arabic in schools and universities. Author and media personality Tayseer Abdullah raised the question of whether Arabs can move their focus toward the east, particularly China, given that Western dominance has only resulted in Arab weakness and ineffective development. He wondered if focusing on the east would result in a new form of dependence. Dr. Abdul Wahab Al-Afandi asserted his rejection of any form of dependence on foreign powers, Western or Eastern. He offered, “Instead of dependence, we need to become on the same footing with others. The Arab countries have the tools to establish equal partnerships.” He called for maintaining communication with knowledge producers, particularly that Arabs have made significant contributions to knowledge production. He also called for the development of Arab social media platforms.

Hanadi Zaynal posited the possibility of a cultural hybrid that mixes Eastern and Western cultures. Dr. Jassim Al-Jazzaa responded by stressing that the Arab World is proud of its own Arab and Islamic culture, and that Arab culture, unlike Zionism for example, does not harbor animosity toward others. He added that the moral aspects of Arab and Islamic culture are more deeply rooted than in Western cultures, as can be clearly seen in the Western response to the war in Ukraine compared to the Western attitude toward the Arabs in general, and the Palestinian issue in particular.

During the question-and-answer session, a member of the audience asked about the negative consequences of Western hegemony and the cultural aspects that Arabs need to maintain. Dr. Al-Jazzaa responded that the problem in the Arab World has to do with leadership and strategic policies. The absence of clearly defined strategies resulted in government institutions that favor brute force over good governance. He asserted that these institutions need to be led away from dependence on foreign powers and into true sovereignty.

In response to comments from the audience regarding the importance of the Arabic language, Dr. Abdul Wahab Al-Afandi stressed the importance of teaching Arabic and Islamic Studies in Arab universities. It is critical, in his view, that Arab students study Islamic Studies in the Arab World rather than in Western universities, particularly in the UK.

Author Abdullah Al-Adhaba warned against forming Arab alliances with the “Zionist entity” because such alliances can drag Arab countries into war. Besides, such alliances would constitute a direct threat to the Arab League of Nations. Dr. Abdul Wahab Al-Afandi agreed with this view and denounced the alliances some Arab states are forming with the “Zionist entity.” He emphasized that anyone who believes that such alliances can offer protection is delusional.

Author Abdul Aziz Al-Khatir proposed to deconstruct the word “we” in the title of the discussion session. He commented, “If we deconstruct that “we,” we will be able to answer a lot of questions. For example, we often hear expressions such as “we and heritage,” “we, the state, and nationalism,” “we and cultural minorities,” and “we and the other.” That “we” is quite fragile because we cannot talk about the Arabs as a centralized entity. We have to, first of all, figure out who “we” refers to.”

Amal Arrab wondered about specific ways to promote and support confidence in Arab and Islamic civilization.  Poet Shabib bin Arrar Al-Nuaymi, Director of Qatar Center for Poetry (Diwan Al-Arab), raised the question of what the Arabs have offered to the Arabs. Dr. Jassim Al-Jazzaa responded by reiterating that the current Western civilization was built on Arab foundations, as it was the Arabs who introduced the scientific study of medicine, history, sociology, and many other fields of study.

Dana’s Love Story Concludes the Doha Theater Festival Performances

Tonight, at the Drama Theater in Katara (the Cultural Village), Al-Watan Theater Company’s performance of Dana’s Love Story brings to a close the performances of the 34th Doha Theater Festival, organized by the Ministry of Culture’s Theater Affairs Center. Dana’s Love Story is written and directed by Hamad Al-Rumayhi with Assistant Director Ibrahim Abdul Rahim. The play stars Huda Al-Maliki, Fatima Al-Shrouqi, Zainab Al-Ali, and Al-Anoud Al-Khouri.

The play tells the story of Dana, a young woman who is in love with Saqr, a poor young pearl diver. Saqr finds a large pearl during one of his dives, and the divers’ captain promises him a large sum of money for it. When the captain sees Dana, he pressures Saqr to take the money and let go of Dana so that he can marry her. Dana asks Saqr not to take the money and urges him to move away from the town with her so that they can get married. Saqr yields to the captain’s pressure and accepts the money. He also agrees to break up with Dana, and the captain forces her family to marry her to him. Over time, Saqr uses the money he got from the captain to become a captain himself, and later he becomes the chief captain. Now that Saqr has a treasure-trove of pearls, the captain who married Dana goes to him one day to buy pearls. Saqr pressures him to divorce Dana in exchange for pearls. The captain yields under Saqr’s pressure and divorces Dana. Saqr proposes to Dana, but she rejects him and says, “Those who let you down once will let you down again.”

Writer and director Hamad Al-Rumayhi commented that the idea of the play came to him when he was serving as a judge for the University Theater Festival Our Youth on Stage. He later decided to write this play as a practice performance for young actresses and used it two years ago in a project sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. He was then asked to postpone the production of the play in hopes that it would be performed at the festival. Once it was decided to resume the activities of the Doha Theater Festival, he proposed the play to Al-Watan Theater Company and it was enthusiastically accepted. He added that the play takes the format of a theater workshop, as it requires specific acting and breathing techniques as well as the ability to play different roles. He promised the audience a lot of surprises.

Al-Rumayhi noted that the play includes various art forms, such as singing, dancing, oration, and acting. As for its main theme, it focuses on women rights and freedom of choice. The play was originally entitled The Pearl, Queen of Times Bygone, but Al-Rumayhi changed the title and decided to have an all-female cast in order to make the play more focused on Dana’s character and the main message.

Multiple Roles

Fatima Al-Shrouqi explained that she plays two characters in the play: Dana’s shadow and the pearlers’ captain who marries Dana. She indicated that she was initially leary about the daunting challenge of playing a male character. She said, “I was worried the audience would laugh when they see me in traditional pearling captain clothes.”

Zainab Al-Ali, who plays Dana and also the shadow, commented that her characters move from being a young girl to a strong woman who makes difficult decisions about love and money.

Al-Anoud Al-Khouri, who plays Dana in some scenes and Saqr in others, also expressed her initial concerns about the challenge of playing a male character. She noted that the play is her second experience in professional theater after several experiences in children’s theater and university theater.

 

The Puppeteer: A Drama that Reinforces Citizenship

Yesterday at the Drama Theater in Katara (The Cultural Village), the Doha Theater Company put on a performance of The Puppeteer, a play participating in the Doha Theater Festival organized by the Ministry of Culture’s Theater Affairs Center. The play is written by Jamal Abdullah and directed by Fayiz Al-Falih who also starred in the performance with Hanan Sadiq. The team included scenographer Abdul Rahman Al-Manaey, assistant directors Ibrahim Mohammed and Khalifa Jabr, and Khalifa Jaman who composed the soundtrack.

Fayiz Al-Falih, who directed and starred in the play, explained that The Puppeteer is about a loving married couple who live in peace until war breaks out. As their hometown becomes a conflict zone, the husband, who is a puppeteer, refuses to leave with his wife to escape the shelling. The shelling intensifies, and despite his wife’s pleas to leave, he insists on staying even when darkness envelops their home. He added that his character is very clam despite the danger, yet his role requires a powerful performance that conveys and the concept of citizenship. He also noted that the play has no projections on current world events.

The Puppeteer is the second play to be performed in the festival after Qatar Theater Company’s Al-Ghubba which was enacted two days ago. The third and final play, Dana’s Love Story which is written and directed by Hamad Al-Rumayhi, will be performed on Saturday by Al-Watan theater Company. This year’s festival schedule includes five university theater performances, all of which are international plays, three performances by community theater groups, three discussion sessions, and eight seminars. The schedule also includes a series of research presentations, a special performance of Najma’s Theater by the Theater Affairs Center, and discussions that follow each performance.

Next Sunday, the Opera Theater at Katara is expected to host a celebration of World Theater Day, which is celebrated every year on March 27. The festival awards will be announced at the celebration, and the winners are to be honored.

 

Tears and Calls for the Commemoration of Abdul Aziz Jassim

The events of the Doha Theater Festival, which lasts until next Sunday, included a discussion session entitled Readings in Abdul Aziz Jassim’s Theater Experience. The session, which was held two days ago, was moderated by Ahmed Abdullah, who started his comments by reviewing milestones in Abdul Aziz Jassim’s career. He focused on Jassim’s contributions as one of the most prominent theater actors in the Gulf and the wide range of roles he played on stage in comedies, tragedies, and political plays, all of which touched people’s hearts and reflected their concerns and aspirations.

Actor Mohammed Bou Jassoum commented that the late Jassim (Bou Saud) honed his acting skills by keeping a keen eye on everyday life and by closely observing the art scene and various actors. Jassim continuously experimented and strove to develop his own unique acting style. He also participated in many theater training programs. Bou Jassoum remembered that when the Culture and Arts Administration was first established in 1976, it organized two workshops, one was led by the late Al-Munsif Al-Suwaysi in 1979 and the other was the Doha Theater Training Program in 1986. Jassim participated in both. Bou Jassoum noted that what distinguished Abdul Aziz Jassim most were his presence and quick wit, both on stage and in front of cameras.

Director and actor Falih Fayiz shared some of his fond memories of the late Jassim, and many in the audience were so moved that they joined in with their stories about Jassim. Saad Bourashid started his comments by announcing his plans to document Jassim’s career and contributions, as he shared many of those successes with Jassim starting when Bourashid joined Al-Sad Theater Company when Bou Jassoum was the first to graduate from the Theater Department.

Academics: Reliance on the West Cost the Arabs their Confidence in their own Power

A group of academics who participated in a discussion session entitled The West and Us: Arab Centralism and Globalization, The West Complex between Fact and Fiction concluded that Arabs’ loss of their confidence in their own political, intellectual, and economic abilities has increased their dependence on the West, resulting in Western hegemony in Arab political and economic life.

The discussion session was held yesterday at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies as part of a series of lectures, seminars, and discussion sessions organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with Qatar University and the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. The discussion panel included Dr. Abdul Wahab Al-Afandi, President of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Dr. Jassim Al-Jazzae, and Dr. Rashid Boutayyib, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. The discussion session was attended by His Excellency Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Thani, Minister of Culture, and several academics, intellectuals, media representatives, and guests.

Dr. Abdul Wahab Al-Afandi: The Arabs have not taken advantage of oil resources to achieve Centralism

Dr. Abdul Wahab Al-Afandi, President of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, explained that the Arabs aligned with the United States in the past during the Soviet Union era. Now, they are aligned with Israel. These alliances are not new, as the same type of alliances were formed during the Crusades when some Muslim states aligned with the Crusaders against other Muslim states, as in the case of the Tawaif kings in Andalusia.

He added that, “Arab centralism came about as a result of various factors, such as the European Industrial Revolution, the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope pathway, and the building of the Suez Canal. At that time, “Arab centralism was commercial in nature and quite impactful. Arabs were later marginalized as a result of discovering alternative trade routes. As the West lost its monopoly on oil, Arabs had a chance to reassert their centralism. However, this resource has not been fully utilized yet.”

He elaborated that Western centralism can be easily seen in the political, economic, and military spheres, hence Western hegemony across the world. This hegemony includes cultural dominance, which Arabs sometimes import themselves. He argues that Arabs have to find ways to create their own cultural products and establish strong inter-Arab alliances. He added, “Weakness in the Arab region, for the most part, is not the result of conflicts with the West. This weakness is mostly the result of conflicts between regimes and the people.” He gave the examples of some Arab leaders who establish ties with Israel to gain support for their regimes against their own people. These leaders, according to Dr. Al-Afandi, cannot communicate with their people; therefore, they have to collaborate with Israel to legitimize their rule.

Dr. Al-Afandi concluded his remarks by calling for breaking away from Western hegemony. For him, this objective can be achieved only if Arabs use their cultural, intellectual, and industrial resources to build confidence and unity.

Dr. Jassim Al-Jazzae: Four stages leading to Western hegemony in the Arab World

Dr. Jassim Al-Jazzae based his argument on the premise that states, like individuals, resist the dominance of foreign powers. In political terms, states resist foreign powers controlling domestic educational, economic, and political decisions. He added that sovereign states by definition, can maintain and protect their complete political, cultural, and economic independence, which is almost unfeasible in modern times.

Dr. Al-Jazzae summarized the historical development of Western hegemony in the Arab World. The first stage took the form of military confrontations between the Byzantine Empire and the Arabian Peninsula, followed by Byzantine-Arab and European-Arab conflicts that continued until the French campaigns. As the West realized that military confrontation cannot establish hegemony in the Arab World, a new approach was adopted. This new approach, which ushered in the second stage, involved breaking up the Arab World into smaller states based on ethnic and nationalist lines. The third stage focused on occidentalizing ideologies by ensuring that Western agents were included in decision making circles in Arab states. The fourth stage aimed to establish economic hegemony through the presence of Western organizations and corporations that inhibit economic production in Arab countries. The objective has been to transform the Arab World into a consumers’ market.

Dr. Al-Jazzae concluded that many Arab regimes are not interested in Arab unity because it might negatively impact their own interests. Arab unity, in his view, requires a multi-national development plan that brings together peoples and regimes alike. The crucial point is that unity does not require eliminating sovereignty.

Dr. Rashid Boutayyib: The Arabs’ problem is imitating the West

Dr. Rashid Boutayyib, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies offered the view that the most insightful answer to the question of Western hegemony in the Arab World was answered by Allal Al-Fasi. In his book, Self-criticism, particularly in Chapter 14 entitled Thoughts between Modernity and Modernization, Al-Fasi gives the same answer offered by Abdulla Al-Urawi and Mohammed Abed Al-Jabiri. Dr. Boutayyib elaborated that Al-Fasi, who was a Salafist jurist, saw that the problem is imitating the West. In other words, Arabs have to take modernity from the West in order to address the issues of their time.

The lecture and discussion session series includes eight events that continue until March 31. The next session, entitled Poetry and Songs: Differences and Deteriorating Standards, will be held next Monday. The events aim to enrich dialogue on current cultural and artistic issues, to promote a culture of diversity, and to give intellectuals, academics, and graduates the opportunity to contribute to supporting the intellectual environment. The Ministry of Culture is supporting the event series with the objective of fostering an environment of cultural debate in the service of the community.

 

Jalila Al-Fahdiya: Khalil’s Character Stirs up Patriotism

The Drama Theater at Katara (The Cultural Village) hosted a discussion session on The Puppeteer, a play by the Doha Theater Company performed at the 34th Doha Theater Festival. The session, which was held the other day, was moderated by Abdul Rahman Al-Mansouri and attended by director Falih Al-Fayiz.

Jalila Al-Fahdiya, Director of the Omani Theater Administration, offered an analysis of the script. She commented that “The overall theme of the play is outstanding, and the playwrite has a unique way of addressing such controversial topics.” She noted that the character of Khalil stirred up feelings of patriotism, but perhaps the calm attitude between him and his wife, Al-Reem, was unrealistic, especially in their isolation during the war. Al-Fahdiya also discussed the symbolism of the puppets hanging on the house walls, which represent the married couple’s shared memories, and the red lights that stand for imminent danger. She concluded her remarks by lauding the actors for their effective performance and clear enunciation.

Several artists and critics who attended the play participated in the discussion. For example, Kuwait journalist Mufrih Al-Shammari commented, “Today, I watched a performance with an honest conversation between a married couple conveying the true meaning of patriotism. As for the calm attitude Al-Fahdiya talked about, I see it as a natural outcome of continuous conflict and war.” He thanked the Doha Theater Company and director Falih Al-Fayiz for the performance.

Actor Ali Mirza Mahmoud added that the absence of mobility on the stage and the limited use of scenography and sound effects made it difficult for the actors to do their best. He noted that some directors are taking an easy approach toward directing, and he emphasized that the actors’ performance was outstanding.

Actor Saad Bourashid focused on the actors’ performance, as he said, “The performance was professional, especially the stellar performance of Hanan Sadiq. Falih Al-Fayiz is, of course, a star, and I have learned a lot from him.” Actor Salim Majid added that the performance was quite creative and he congratulated Falih Al-Fayiz on his resounding success.

Scenographer Abdullah Dasmal Al-Kuwwari explained that the two main characters moved in a very limited space on purpose because space was used to reflect their feelings. The play is about a happily married couple whose lives change when war breaks out. The wife urges her husband, who is a puppet maker, to move away from the conflict zone, but he insists on remaining in their hometown with his puppets, whom he considers the children he never had.

Theater Festivals Need Support

Yesterday at the Doha Theater Festival, the final event, a seminar was held with the title Theater Festivals: Where To? The seminar participants included Dr. Marzouq Bashir and Dr. Ali Al-Anzi, who was visiting from Kuwait. The seminar, which was moderated by Salah Gharib, lasted an hour and a half, and it was held at Building 15 in Katara (The Cultural Village). The seminar generated active participation by the audience of theater enthusiasts about the crises of theater festivals and possible ways to maintain them.

The seminar started with Dr. Marzouq Bashir thanking the Ministry of Culture and His Excellency the Minister of Culture for making it possible to resume the Doha Theater Festival. He also expressed his pleasure to see such an enthusiastic gathering working together to bring the Qatari artistic movement back to life after a long hiatus. In his opening remarks, Dr. Bashir reviewed the historical development of theater and theater festivals. He explained that he would focus on Arab theater festivals that target the public rather than specialized theater festivals that target children, college students, and adolescents. As he noted, these types of festivals have their respective unique standards and styles.

Dr. Bashir talked about the evolution of Greek theater in the 5th century B.C., nothing that at that time, there was no distinction between playwriters and directors. There was one artist who wrote a play, directed it, and participated in the performance as well. He added that theater festivals are particularly important because they help discover new talents and help create an environment that is conducive to interaction among artists.

Dr. Bashir also mentioned some drawbacks of theater festivals. He commented that “some theater companies became exclusively focused on winning awards. There is also wasteful spending in terms of organization that usually comes at the expense of supporting the theater movement. Instead of excessive spending on organization, funding can be used to better support theater groups.”

Dr. Ali Al-Anzi started his comments by expressing his gratitude to the Ministry of Culture and the Theater Affairs Center for inviting him to the festival, which he described as the first of its kind in the Arab World. He extended his congratulations to theater enthusiasts in Qatar on the resumption of the festival. He commented that the seminar came at a critical time, as he saw a decline in the popularity of theater festivals with some notable exceptions, such as the International Festival of Carthage. He suggested an international multi-round format for theater festivals in Arab countries. He explained, “Participating performances in theater festivals have tended to be modest, below expectations, uncompetitive, or unable to add to the theater movement. This has been the case since the 90s with some notable exceptions, such as Tunisia and Morocco.”

Dr. Ali Al-Anzi concluded his remarks by saying, “I would like to see Arab theater festivals become more than gatherings of artists. I am also seeing that most successful performances tend to come from outside government organizations. This suggests that it is imperative for theater to attract a wider audience. Since festivals do not serve this purpose, we need to study the audience in order to identify news ways to reach new groups. The Theater Affairs Center is working on a digital theater archive. This is a laudable and highly valuable effort that will preserve the history of Qatari theater.”

Director Saad Bourashid commented that theater festivals are quite valuable and their continuation is necessary for the development of the artistic movement in any country. He added, “We are calling for the reestablishment of the permanent theater committee.” He raised the question of why theater performances disappear once the festival is over, and suggested the continuation of performances in other cities so that theater activities reach a wider audience.

Ali Hussein, an aspiring artist, raised a series of questions: “What is the state’s plan for the theater festival? What are the objectives of the festival? How can it attract a wider and more diverse audience? What does the community gain from having such festivals? What is the strategy to achieve the objectives of the festival?”

Artist Hanan Sadiq added that it is important to develop a strategy for the development of the local theater festival while planning a major international theater festival in Doha. She noted the issue of continuing performances after the festival in order to maintain the public’s interest.

Actor Ali Mirza Mahmoud commented, “We should thank God for the resumption of the theater festival and look for ways to keep it going. I believe that the next festival will be different in ways that will help ensure its continuity. However, it is imperative that the festival receives substantial media support. The Ministry of Culture can promote the festival on radio, TV, and newspapers so that more people would learn about it, and hopefully participate.”

In other news, Dana’s Love Story, a play written and directed by Hamad Al-Rumaihy, was a resounding success. The play, which starred Zainab Ali, Fatima Al-Shurouqi, Huda Al-Maliki, and Al-Anoud Al-Khouri, concluded the festival’s performances.

Qatari Forum for Authors Holds New Session to Celebrate the Arabic Language

In collaboration with the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture, and Science, the Qatari Forum for Authors organized a discussion session hosting Dr. Najaa Kallash, Professor at the University of the International Studies of Rome – UNINT. The session, which is part of the Forum’s efforts to celebrate the Arabic language, focused on Dr. Kallash’s experience teaching Arabic to non-native speakers.

Dr. Kallash described UNINT as “a dynamic private university with three colleges: the College of Economics, the College of Political Science, and the College of Translation. The College of Translation offers seven language options: English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese, and Arabic.”

Regarding the academic programs at UNINT, Dr. Kallash explained that the university offers undergraduate and graduate (M.A.) programs. The undergraduate Arabic language, culture, and translation courses are designed for students to reach the B2 proficiency level, according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, by the end of three years of instruction. Graduate courses at the M.A. level are more specialized, as students train on translation and interpretation. They also study Arabic literature, linguistics, and advanced writing skills. By the end of the M.A. program, students reach the C1 level, as they can perform translation as well as simultaneous and consecutive interpretation to and from Arabic and Italian.

In addition to language instruction, the Arabic program at UNINT offers extra-curricular activities that promote language learning and cultural awareness. Each year, the Arabic program celebrates the UN Arabic Language Day in collaboration with some Arab embassies in Rome.

As for interest in learning Arabic in Italy, Dr. Kallash explained that there are numerous Italian universities that offer Arabic language instruction, but there are only a few with Oriental Studies programs. She added that Arabic is taught only at the college level and not in K-12 programs, and most college courses focus on Standard Arabic. Colloquial Arabic is offered at the graduate level in order to offer a deeper understanding of Arabic diglossia.

The discussion session included some videos of UNINT students participating in language and culture learning activities and expressing their love of Arabic and Arab culture.