Qatar: From A Local Landscape Into An Outdoor Art Museum

In light of hosting the 2022 Fifa World Cup, Qatar is reinventing itself through art! The country wants to be a “vast outdoor art museum experience.” The plan is to expand all of Qatar’s public art programs. For one thing, Qatar museums will showcase more than 40 new works by Qatari and international artists!

“As the rest of the world turns their eyes on Doha, we thought one of the best ways to introduce ourselves and create a dialogue would be through art in the public sphere,” said Abdulrahman Ahmed Al-Ishaq, Qatar Museums’ director of public art.

In fact, the project entails that many places across Qatar will showcase art pieces: public squares, schools, athletic facilities, shopping centers, railway stations, stadiums, and the Hamad International Airport. Furthermore, all artwork portrays Qatar’s identity and culture, sharing a piece of the country with the world through art. Qatar wants to be the Middle East’s main art hub and to make art a part of Qatar’s urban fabric.

However, Qatar has recently faced criticism whilst working on preparing for the 2022 Fifa World Cup. The world questioned the way migrant workers were treated, as well as Qatar’s anti-homosexuality laws. Nonetheless, Qatar has made it clear that it welcomes all, with no threat to anyone, hoping that the art program initiative would alter how the world might perceive Qatar.

In 2013, the public art program was launched. Artworks that kickstarted the initiative were Damien Hirst’s “The Miraculous Journey“, Ali Hassan’s “Desert Horse” and “Wisdom of a Nation.” As a matter of fact, the initiative included as well a yearly program encouraging artists to paint murals that reflect on historical, cultural, and social issues.

However, Qatar hasn’t stopped since then. There are many recent art installations that truly show what Qatar is about.

Qatar beyond the World Cup

“Falcon” by the Dutch sculptor Tom Claassen is outside the Hamad International Airport. In fact, it’s an abstract golden representation of Qatar’s national bird.

“Untitled (Trench, Shafts, Pit, Tunnel and Chamber)” by the American Bruce Nauman is outside the M7 Msheireb Downtown, Doha. The experimental piece is two 6-foot high by 20-foot by10-foot steel sculptures.

“Two Orchids” by the German artist Isa Genzken is near the National Theatre. It’s a sculpture that idealizes the plant.


Regional artists will be taking part in this initiative, showcasing their art. There’s the Iraqi sculptor Ahmed Al Bahrani; he’s known for his works on political pieces that discuss displacement and memory. Additionally, Faraj Daham will exhibit some of his works, which are known to focus on architecture.

Female talents will be a part of this initiative as well! The Lebanese American artist Simone Fattal will participate with artworks of her own. Moreover, her work focuses on war, migration, displacement, religions and mythologies. There’s also Shua’a Ali, a Qatari artist. She will exhibit her first public work in Downtown, Doha. Furthermore, the piece is called “Tawazun”, which means balance in Arabic. It’s an abstract sculpture of stacked stones that stand for Qatar’s progression, according to the artist.

If Qatar keeps going this way, its dream of being “the art Mecca of the Middle East” might become true!

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