The art scene is burgeoning across the Arab world. From the United Arab Emirates to Egypt and now Qatar, more art venues are opening to the public. Unlike the Emirati and Egyptian art scenes, where independent galleries offer great exposure to art, the artsy wave in Doha is primarily sponsored and managed by the Qatar Museum Authority.
The Museum of Islamic Art is considered one of the most iconic Qatari museums, but other museums and galleries show a variety of visual arts as well.
While every contribution to the scene helps to nourish it, those who took the first steps are always worth a greater chunk of appreciation, like these two amazing Qatari artists.
Wafika Sultan Saif al-Essa
In a time when not so many women studied art academically, Wafika Sultan Saif al-Essa was one of the first women to stride down that path. She traveled to Egypt to study at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Zamalek and majored in interior design. Pairing her experience as an interior designer and her practice as a visual artist paved the way for her to innovate and experiment.
As odd as it may sound, Essa was encouraged to explore her national heritage further while working at Qatar TV, where she strived to visually represent the Qatari character through designing and executing backdrops for local programs.
From there, she delved deeper into the world of arts to explore colors and form, incorporating them with calligraphy in what led to her best pieces of art. Essa’s work has been displayed in several local and international exhibitions.
Another Qatari artist whose contributions have left an enduring mark in today’s Qatari art scene is Faraj Daham. While many people may perceive art in whimsical manner, Daham’s artistic methodology is often derived from a scientific approach, a style that stems from his days as a technical high school student.
He started his journey after graduating from the Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts in Kuwait with a degree in Theatre Stage Design, followed by his master’s degree in fine arts at Ball State University in the United States.
Among the steppingstones he set for the Qatari artists was founding Qatar Fine Arts Society. He was also one of the first to hop on board the Al-Jasrah Club, which acted as a hub for exchanging ideas and building networks with other artists, way before the art societies of Qatar were formally established.
Daham’s iconic artwork has been displayed in several cities regionally and across the world.