The Ministry of Culture posted a video about Islamic architecture during the Umayyad Dynasty on its website. This is one of the videos the Ministry posts on its official Twitter account about the history of Islamic architecture. The publication of the video is part of the Ministry’s efforts to celebrate “Doha Capital of Islamic Culture 2021” under the banner “Our Culture is Light.”
The new video emphasizes that the Umayyad Dynasty was the true beginning of Islamic architecture. This is when domes decorated with verses from the Qur’an were added to Byzantine architecture, and when wooden gables and marble floors were introduced. The video mentions that the Umayyad Mosque and the Aqsa Mosque are among the most important buildings from that era.
On December 18, the Ministry of Culture’s Qatari Forum for Authors posted a series of UNESCO posters about Arabic on its social media pages. These are part of the Ministry’s collaborative efforts with the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science to celebrate World Arabic Language Day. The posts are about the importance of Arabic and its status for Arabs and Muslims around the world.
The posts explain that Arabic is one of the most commonly used languages around the world, as more than 400 million people speak it on a daily basis. It is also very important for Muslims, since it is the language of the Qur’an and prayers.
Arabic is a gateway to a world of diverse cultures, ethnicities, and world views. It is a language of eloquence and verbal arts, as the Qur’an was revealed “in a clear Arabic tongue” (Qur’an, 26:195). It is also a highly adaptable language that facilitated the development of many fields of study, such as geometry, algebra, medicine, arts, and science in addition to language arts. Arabic is the oldest language that still maintains its linguistic structures and literature. The Qatari Forum for Authors and the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science are committed to continuing their efforts to promote and preserve Arabic and to engage their members in their campaign to celebrate Arabic. These efforts include publishing interactive cultural content on their social media accounts and maintaining dialogue to discuss the importance of Arabic and innovative ways to promote it.
Qatari cultural organizations are celebrating World Braille Day by hosting events and activities in addition to promoting awareness about Braille through social media. These events and activities aim to increase interest in Braille, which facilitates communication, opens endless horizons of knowledge, and grants access to unlimited learning resources to the visually impaired.
Qatar Social and Cultural Center for the Blind offers a comprehensive presentation of the Braille writing system on its social media pages. The presentation describes how Braille developed and how it is used. It also notes that Braille is no longer limited to print materials, but current digital equipment can display written content on a computer screen or a smart phone on an electronic line that changes as one reads.
The Ministry of Culture’s Media Center is fully committed to supporting different groups within society, including those with special needs, to ensure that they benefit from the Center’s services and that their contributions to society are appreciated. The Center reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a dire need for reliable mechanisms, such as Braille, that facilitate access to the Center’s services, especially for those with special needs.
In this context, the Learning Team at Qatar National Museum organized a tour for the visually impaired yesterday. The tour made it possible for the visually impaired to access the museum collection through audio commentary and tactile materials. A tour guide would accompany visually impaired visitors through the exhibits to describe the artifacts in the collection while visitors read the museum guide in Braille. This tour was initially available in Arabic only, but the museum added an English tour for the visually impaired on Tuesday from 10:00 am to noon and from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. The Qatar National Museum announced on social media that it is pleased to make tours available to the visually impaired through tactile stations, technical assistances, and Braille guides. Ikrami Ahmed, Assisting Technologies Specialist at Qatar Social and Cultural Center for the Blind, posted a video on the Center’s social media pages yesterday, in which he explains the development of Braille, how it is read, and how widespread it is in Qatar.
Qatar National Library is also celebrating World Braille Day by extending an invitation through social media to visually impaired patrons to visit the library. Members of the library have access to Book Share, an electronic resource that allows reading for the visually impaired. The library is using social media to promote its services and to provide information about reading access. The library social media pages also offer information about World Braille Day, which is celebrated on January 4, the birthday of its creator Louis Braille who brought light into the lives of millions of visually impaired individuals all over the world. Thanks to his work, they can enjoy reading like everyone else.
Al-Jasrah Social and Cultural Club released the 59th issue of its magazine Al-Jasrah Al-Thaqafiyya. The issue comes in a new format and a new focus as explained by Mr. Ibrahim Al-Jeeda, chairman of the club’s board of directors. In his editorial column he writes, “With this issue, we say goodbye to 2021. We wanted to end the year with a transformation of the magazine in terms of content and format in ways that reinvigorate the magazine. The magazine is like a beam of light that extends infinitely and never knows inertia, and with it, Al-Jasrah illuminates our world.
The new issue comes with new designs for layout, cover, and colors. The content has also changed to be denser on cultural content, which can be seen in the feature article Writing in the Grip of the Market, which addresses current realities of reading and publishing in the Arab World.
Visual arts had a spotlight in the issue in a review of Places, an art gallery displaying Yusuf Ahmed’s paintings which depict historical scenes of old Doha. The paintings bring to life the history of the Mushayrib neighborhood with its old stores and main streets. Another spotlight on visual arts is Ahmed Ezz Al-Arab’s profile of Gazbia Sirry’s paintings and life. Other articles introduce African writers who recently received international awards, such as Abdulrazak Gurnah, who won the Nobel Prize in literature, and Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, who won the French Prix Goncourt Award.
The issue includes interviews with Moroccan author and critic Mohammed Mutassim who addresses the topic of cultural studies and how they are received in the Arab World. It also includes a conversation from the archives between Lebanese-American poet Etel Adnan and Tunisian poet Khaled Al-Najjar, who first met in Tunisia in 1978.
The cities of Mosul and Jerusalem are featured in this issue of Al-Jasrah magazine with special focus on their Islamic landmarks. Critic Dr. Sabri Hafiz continues to narrate his memories with Tawfik Al-Hakim, the pioneer of Arab theater. In his second installment of memories, he not only talks about Al-Hakim, but also about the cultural scene at Al-Hakim’s office at Al-Ahram newspaper during the sixties and seventies.
Cinema has its share in the new issue of the magazine, as it includes an article entitled “Film Festivals: Sociological Phenomenon and Historical Documentation.” The article sheds light on the beginnings of film festivals and how they relate to historicizing film as a social phenomenon.
The Theater Affairs Center retweeted a post by the Ministry of Culture remembering the late painter Jassim Al-Zayni. The retweet comes in an effort by the Center to take part in celebrating Qatari artists and remembering those who passed away but left their mark on our world. The Ministry of Culture regularly publishes posts that feature Qatari leaders in the fields of arts and culture. These posts have been welcomed by many artists and art enthusiasts who appreciate the remembrance of Qatari innovative minds.
The post about the late Jassim Al-Zayni, who was the pioneer of contemporary Qatari visual arts, sheds light on some of his achievements. Al-Zayni was born in Doha in 1943, and his artistic career started in 1967. He studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Iraq, and later became the first elected president of the Qatar Fine Arts Association. He also served as the director of the Museums Authority at the Ministry of Culture. Al-Zayni’s paintings focus on the historical transformation of Qatar’s society after the discovery of oil. He participated in all the galleries organized by the Qatar Fine Arts Association and numerous Arab and international galleries and biennales between 1974 and 2006, when he had his last gallery show The Pearling Chief before he passed away in 2012.
Jassim Al-Zayni is most famous for his 1972 painting Qatari Features, which was classified as one of the most distinguished Arab works of art. The painting depicts a young girl wearing a traditional Qatari bukhnuq headdress sewing buttons on a thobe worn by her brother who is donning a traditional Qatari ghutra and Uqal. This painting, which was the topic of endless debates among Arab and western art critics, was often described as a masterpiece.
The Ministry of Culture has recently celebrated the late artist Abdul Aziz Jassim by posting a video of his work on its social media pages. The video was widely watched and shared, especially by the late Jassim’s friends and fans.
Al-Watan Theater Company is readying to open its own theater. This is an effort by the Ministry of Culture to support local theater companies in order to enrich the Qatari theater movement. The Ministry’s ultimate goal is to facilitate theater productions that reflect its mission to build artistic capacity and support talents. The Theater Affairs Center, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Culture, has been established to serve as a hub for theater enthusiasts and to translate the Ministry’s mission into reality.
Nasser Al-Hammadi, Al-Watan Theater Company’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, explained that this theater is a new addition to the Qatari cultural infrastructure. The project was launched in 2016 when the Center decided that Al-Watan Theater Company needed to have a space dedicated to its productions instead of relying on the Qatar National Theater. Having its own theater would create an additional source of funding for the company. He added that the Center’s Board of Directors worked hard to achieve this goal. A proposal was submitted to Mr. Abdul Rahim Al-Siddiqi, Director of the Theater Affairs Center, who fully supported the idea. Once support was secured, Al-Watan Theater project started to take shape, especially that the company is based in Hazm Al-Markhia district which had a site suitable for building a theater.
Al-Hammadi further commented that the theater, which took only a few months to construct, has a 110-viewer capacity, and it has been fully equipped with 48 light sources and microphones. The backstage area and the actors’ rooms are designed to meet the standards of professional theaters, since this theater is intended for professional productions, not just as a training stage or a theater for amatures.
The theater design, as he described it, is inspired by Qatari heritage, as the first and second rows of seats are traditional sadw seats and the rest are wooden chairs with Qatari traditional designs. He emphasized that the theater will open soon in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, but the company is yet to decide on its official name. The company’s board of directors is considering whether to name it after a pioneer of Qatari theater or to maintain the name Al-Watan Theater. He reiterated that the theater is a significant addition to the Qatari theater infrastructure and stressed that it will be available for all theater groups and production companies to hold their performances for a nominal fee. He concluded by saying, “In the end, our goal is a Qatari renaissance in theater and performance arts, and everyone should contribute to achieving this goal.”
The director of Al-Watan Theater Company revealed that the company intends to organize a theater festival that brings together local theater groups and companies to participate in a theater competition in order to enrich the Qatari theater movement. As for the company’s latest news, he explained that the company is currently holding its board of directors’ elections according to the schedule set by the Ministry of Culture, and the new board will establish the company’s new strategy.
The Ministry of Culture’s Publication and Translation Administration has released the 171st issue of Doha magazine in January. The new issue includes a series of articles on diverse cultural topics.
The issue opens with an editorial piece by Khaled Al-Ouda Al-Fadli, Editor in Chief, entitled We and Cultural Diversity. In his article, Al-Fadli discusses the role Qatar plays in promoting cultural diversity by hosting numerous international conferences, forums, and festivals. These events reinforce the role of intercultural dialogue and understanding which help combat negative attitudes toward other cultures, religions, and civilizations. These events also strengthen bilateral relations and friendships, thus promoting development. Qatar is also engaged in many cultural cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding as well as other forms of facilitating cultural, artistic, and intellectual exchange.
The issue includes articles on various topics, such as digital currencies, escaping poverty, and climate change, as well as investigative reports on the history of the debate over free verse, new contributions of language arts, why children need stories, and the nature of the calendar used in Southern Arab inscriptions.
The issue dedicates space for cultural debates over the Arabic language and its future, the birth pains of the Qatari novel in the absence of referential frameworks, and other topics.
The Qatar National Theater is currently offering a workshop on basic acting techniques, organized by the Ministry of Culture’s Theater Affairs Center. The month-long workshop is given by Lebanese actress and director Rawan Hallawi, and it targets male and female university students who are interested in theater and wish to participate in the next University Theater festival.
Director and academic Roa Al-Qaly, drama instructor at the Theater Affairs Center, commented that “Over the last six sessions, the workshop focused on Stanislavski and Chekhov’s acting methods. It adopts a comparative approach, because, unlike Stanislavski’s method, Chekhov’s method focuses on performance from the inside to outside.”
She added that “22 students from six different universities, including 12 Qataris, are taking part in the workshop. Interestingly, some of the students had participated in previous editions of the University Theater Festival. This is a very positive indication, as it aligns with the Center’s mission to maintain participation and to inspire the love of theater among young people. These opportunities motivate university students to engage in self-development activities that increase their enthusiasm to participate in theater workshops.”
She further commented that Rawan Hallawi is particularly keen on helping students improve their acting skills. She is offering them a university-level academic curriculum in a simplified way. She noted the active participation of students who are constantly engaged in discussions that promote their inquisitiveness and observation skills. The team work activities of the last sessions focused on body language, space, and group interaction. The next sessions will focus on individual performance and character development.
Al-Qaly remarked that she is quite pleased with the results of the workshop so far. She concluded by saying that at the end of every session, she asks students what they have learned and whether the workshop has achieved their objectives.
Starting next Monday and for three days, Artist Abdul Rahman Al-Matawa is giving an art workshop on monoprinting at the Visual Arts Center. The workshop aims to introduce participants (aged 17 and up) to the art of printmaking, printing tools and equipment, and the different printmaking techniques. The workshop will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Building 19 in Katara.
The workshop will provide participants with hands-on experience in printmaking techniques and cutting-edge printing technologies. Printmaking is an art form that requires an artist to have extensive experience and an unquenchable desire to find new and innovative ways of artistic expression. Al-Matawa is one such artist, as he has mastered autograph printing, which is one of the most complicated printing techniques. He has spent most of his career researching graphic techniques and ways to utilize printmaking in preserving heritage and local traditions while using advanced modern technologies with a unique style. His style has developed over years of experimenting and studying various visual art forms. He sees the workshop as an opportunity to share his knowledge and experience in printmaking techniques.