Home to prominent artistic culture, with numerous museums, galleries, and artistic showcases highlighting female artists, Qatar is booming with creativity and diversity. Here, get to know five of the best female talents from the country.
1. Wafika Sultan Al-Essa
A pioneer in the Qatari art scene with her earliest works published in the ’70s, Wafika Sultan Al-Essa, is one of the first Qatari women to receive an art degree and practice it professionally, setting an example for generations of Qatari women to come, while transcending borders with her art.
Sultan Al-Essa’s paintings resemble a musuem of natural history. She explores Qatari folklore, music, human relationships and incorporates calligraphy in her pieces, which show the heavy Islamic influence on her style. Her art also has a feminist flare, often featuring scenes depicting groups of women in everyday life in a modern and progressive gaze.
Al-Essa was awarded the Arab Woman Award for best Qatari artist, and continues to be a beacon for many emerging female artists who are trying to pave their way in the Middle East, and beyond.
2. Bouthayna Al Muftah
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Described by art critics as “quickly becoming one of Qatar’s most sought after contemporary artists,” Buthayna Al Muftah’s art has made its way around the globe to adorn homes and collections alike. Muftah intertwines Western practices with her heritage to showcase and introduce her identity, culture and Qatari tradition with every idiosyncratic brush stroke.
Through her art, she aims to cultivate an emotional and personal connection with the viewer by bringing the history of her land back to life on every canvas, exhibiting elements of Qatari folklore in abstract modes which garnered her a permanent collection spot in the National Museum of Qatar in 2019, and an abundance of other exhibitions, around the world. Muftah says that through her “gestural free-flowing brushstrokes,” she hopes to deliver “an almost tangible sentiment in each piece.”
3. Sara Foryame
Exploring Islam and culture through art is a non-normative barrier that Sara Foryame aims to shatter. Through visual art, she tackles topics such as gender identity, what it’s like to be a Muslim woman, and the media’s portrayal of these aspects of her life.
One of her most-talked about pieces is a metaphorical play on the negative connotation some associate with the hijab. The video shows scarves being placed into individual bags, shaken up, and then held by what appears to be hands wearing dishwashing gloves. In addition to delivering powerful messages through her art, Foryame also supports new emerging artists and aims to bridge any cross-cultural gaps through her workshops and exhibitions, with a focus on cultivating an engaging relationship with her local Muslim community in the UK and Qatar.
4. Dana Al Fardan
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Another pioneer to have found her niche is Dana Al Fardan, Qatar’s only female musician and contemporary composer. Al Fardan is a symphonic artist and songwriter highly influenced by her culture and heritage, which can be heard through her Arab-influenced classical contemporaries.
Her music has not only garnered her a local audience but also international attention, which has been boosted by the cross-continental release of her most recent album, Sandstorm. She was also appointed as Qatar Airways’ official composer, literally enabling her music to transcend borders as it crosses paths with every airplane passenger. Al Fardan has also ventured outside the Middle East through her debut at the Ionic Theatre in London with the London Metropolitan Orchestra, with a rendition of renowned poet Jibran Khalil Jibran’s lyrical novel, Broken Wings, which brought Arabic music and Qatari talent to a whole new audience for the very first time.
5. Wadha Al Sulaiti
With wearable art as her forte, Wadha Al Sulaiti’s work surpasses being a Qatari visual artist and fashion designer. She has been a large contributor to the art scene in Qatar and the region. In addition to being the board member of the Qatar Visual Arts Association, she was also the director of The Girl’s Creative Center in Qatar — a center that supports girls by giving them opportunities to be creative and innovative. Al Sulaiti also curated numerous art exhibitions around the world, one of which was named Qatar: Heritage and Modernity, and was showcased in 2007 at L’Institut Du MondeArabe in Paris. Both, her fashion and visual art pieces pay homage to her Qatari background by showcasing elements of Arabic heritage such as calligraphy, and elements drawn from Islamic art and architecture.
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