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10 Women Ruling The Qatari Art Scene
The Doha ladies to look out for
Art Stuff 26 Nov 2019

Doha may seem like an unlikely art destination, but the Qatari art scene is booming. KAWS’s holiday has just landed in the Dhow harbour, and you know anywhere KAWS is, is worth visiting. Qatar is home to a number of stunning museums and galleries, many of which are run by women. These are the ladies to look out for the next time you are in Qatar!
 
HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums @almayassabnthamad

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Image by Brigitte Lacombe


Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is engaged in the fields of formal and informal education. She is Chairperson of Qatar Museums, Doha Film Institute and Qatar Leadership. In having the privilege to serve her country in multiple fields – among them culture, leadership, philanthropy and education – she has been able to facilitate conversations across borders and fields. As a public servant, her objective is to invest in Qatar’s local community, and celebrate Qatar’s diversity using the visual arts as a vehicle for communication. Her current interests are in human development, cultural regionalism and economic growth, using culture as a catalyst for education, dialogue and exchange. Through her public work and support of Qatar Vision 2030, she is building an exciting creative future for Qatar that will connect artistic communities in all areas of culture. 
 
Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz bin Jassim Al Thani, Director of National Museum of Qatar
Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz bin Jassim Al Thani is the Director of National Museum of Qatar. She provides curatorial and managerial leadership, and supervises education and programming initiatives, as well as special exhibitions and conferences. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in English from Carnegie Mellon University, as well a Master’s in Sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Sheikha Amna has previously held positions in the Investment Banking division of Goldman Sachs at Qatar Financial Center and was the Director of Finance and Strategy for the office of QM Chairperson H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Sheikha Amna is also on the Middle East Board of the World Class Learning Group (WCL Group) and is a member of the Industrial Advisory Committee to the Center of the Advanced Materials (CAM) at Qatar University (QU). As of 2018, Sheikha Amna is a member of the Board of Directors of the Journal of Interpretation Research — a biannual peer-reviewed academic journal covering research in the field of heritage interpretation.  
 
Marilena Koutsoukou, Founder of Muse/Lab @marilenakik
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Marilena Koutsoukou is the Founder and Director of the boutique art firm Muse/Lab. Marilena holds a dual degree in International Relations and Economics from Tufts University, and an MA in Museum and Gallery Practice from UCL. She has worked in exhibition design and curation, consults for several art galleries and private collections and organizes international cultural projects. Marilena is also the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art advisor in the Middle East and collaborates closely with cultural institutions in Qatar. The latest project, which she both organized and curated, is ‘Aegean Desert’, a photography exhibition of HRH Prince Nikolaos inspired by the Qatari desert and the Aegean Sea. This exhibition is the first institutional collaboration between Greece and Qatar, and consists of two multisensory immersive experiences, at Benaki Museum in Athens, and at Katara Cultural Village in Doha. She is passionate about creating unique cultural bridges through the blend of diverse artistic styles.
 
Dima Abdul Kader, Founder of Emergeast @emergeastDima Abdul Kader - artgorgeous
Dima Abdul Kader is co-founder of the Middle East’s first online art gallery, Emergeast. The initiative is the first of its kind to focus solely on emerging artists from the Middle East geared towards new and young collectors worldwide. Dima has a BA and MSc. in Economics from McGill and SOAS University. Following her move from the world of finance, her experience includes working with art as an alternative investment class and art consultancy for corporate collections in London. Since Emergeast’s inception in 2014, the gallery has been responsible for incubating a number of regional artists through acquisitions by esteemed collectors and placements in international auctions, notably Emergeast’s most recent partnerships with U.S online auction houses Artnet And Paddle 8. She has co-curated a number of exhibitions including an all female led group show in Doha’s ART 29 space featuring rising Qatari artist Bouthayna Al Muftah. Dima’s mission is to foster a homegrown space for emerging artists to narrate their own journeys, underlined by an Eastern consciousness for both artists and collectors.
 
Bouthayna Al Muftah, Artist @b_almuftah
CREDIT Jan Klos 03

Image by Jan Klos


Bouthayna Al Muftah is a Qatari visual artist. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts Qatar. Upon her graduation, Bouthayna focused her artistic practice in printmaking, typography, documentation and artists’ books, which evolved into multiple installations. Her artistic approach draws inspiration from cultural heritage borrowing elements from the people of Qatar’s oral history and folklore. Bouthayna’s fascination with her surrounding context has led her to develop strong interest in the life in the old neighborhoods of Qatar and its people. As an approach to reconstruct past experiences into contemporary settings, she often finds characters and stories to transform in her own world. She gradually turned to book binding as a way to express her inspirations and themes in the form of conceptual documentation of the past, whilst simultaneously deconstructing and rediscovering elements in an abstract style.
 
Layla I. Bacha, Qatar Foundation @laylaibrahimbacha
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Layla I Bacha is an Art specialist who has been working in curating and commissioning public art and art exhibitions for local and international artists in Doha for the past 10 years. In 2014, she joined Qatar Foundation to acquire, manage and make accessible the Qatar Foundation art collections. During her time with Qatar Foundation, Layla handled the Art portfolio in the foundation where she sat the collection management process and programmed a lot of art activities around the collection, among them the initiative Qatar Foundation Art Trail tours. Activation of the collection and programming of the gallery was achieved through partnerships with other institutions and universities in Doha, such as the French institute, The British council, Qatar museums, Virginia commonwealth university in Qatar. Layla has a bachelor degree in Arts Plastiques from La Sorbonne University in Paris and MA in Museum and Gallery practice from University College London in Qatar.
Laura Barlow, Curator Mathaf Museum @_lbarlow
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Laura Barlow is a Curator at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar. Her work is focused on artists’ invention of new forms and visual languages in relation to global histories of socio-political change. Recently curated exhibitions at Mathaf include Hana Al Saadi: Proposal for Public Sculpture (2018); Mohammed Melehi: 1959- 1971(2017);Basim Magdy: It All Started With a Map and a Picture of Scattered Little Houses(2017); Hassan Sharif: Objects and Files (2016); and Saloua Raouda Choucair: The Meaning of One, The Meaning of the Multiple (2015); Wael Shawky: Crusades and Other Stories, (2015), as assistant curator; and Manal AlDowayan: Crash, (2014). At e-flux, New York, between 2010-2014, she organized exhibitions with Mariana Silva & Pedro Neves Marques, Khalil Rabah, Rossella Biscotti, and Hito Steyerl, and was managing editor of Art Agenda reviews from 2010-2012. She is a PhD candidate at the BauhausUniversität Weimar Institute of History and Theory of Architecture and Planning. She holds an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from CCS, Bard, USA, and a BA in History from Swansea University, Wales. 
 
Julia Gonella, Director Museum of Islamic Art
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Julia Gonnella is the Director of Museum of Islamic Art. She studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, where she gained her BA in Islamic Art and Archaeology (1986) and MA in Social Anthropology (1987), before being awarded her PhD in Islamic Studies and Social Anthropology at Eberhard-Karls-Universität, Tubingen in 1994. Among the exhibitions she curated for the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin are: Heroic Times – A Thousand Years of the Persian Book of Kings (2011), Samarra – Centre of the World, 2012 (2013), Masterworks from the Serail, The Albums of Heinrich Friedrich von Diez (2013), and How Islamic Art Came to Berlin: The Collector and Museum Director Friedrich Sarre (2015). She is a recipient of significant Awards and Fellowships. Among these are Cordoba: VCU Qatar Fellowship for the conference ‘Diverse Are Their Hues’ (2009) and Metropolitan Museum New York: Curatorial Exchange Fellow (2013).
 
Ghada Sholy, Founder of Anima Gallery @animagallery
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Ghada Sholy initially studied journalism and radio TV production in the US and worked as a news anchor and program producer on Qatar Television and Radio. She took a break until her children got older and then decided to concentrate on art. Both Ghada and her husband share a passion for art and started collecting slowly at an early age. She took a private course in all aspects of contemporary art and gallery management at Christie’s in New York and founded Anima Gallery in March 2012. Anima Gallery is an International art gallery that exhibit local, regional and international artists. Anima Gallery is a space that reflects her belief in free expression through art. Accordingly, Ghada selects her artists based on their artistic value as well as the issues they address.
 
Sara Foryame, Curator Public Art Qatar Museums @frozenvanitysara
Sara Foryame is a curator at Qatar Museums in the Public Art section. Her main area of interest and research is Public Art and Cultural diplomacy, in particular to how institutions decision making can have short- and long-term effects on the local community’s engagement and public value of museums. Sara has been working in the cultural sector for 6 years. She was previously an independent curator supporting emerging artists and facilitating cross-cultural dialogue through exhibitions, publications and workshops focusing on engaging the local Muslim community in the UK and Qatar. For the last three years, through educational and participatory methods, she has been focusing on how to create an inclusive space for often excluded communities through intimate and large-scale exhibitions.

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