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.