As part of its plans to transform the nation’s landscape into a vast outdoor art museum experience, Qatar Museums, in collaboration with the Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar (Ashghal), has recently installed several public artworks across the city.
Ahmed Al Bahrani’s 2019 sculpture Flag of Glory is an iconic representation of a forceful nation.
In this monumental work, one hand supports the other as together they raise the Qatari flag with an unstoppable force. This sculpture embodies the spirit of National Day for all citizens of Qatar, celebrating, honouring and commemorating the people and leadership of Qatar: Dar Al’iz, Tamim Al Majd and Hamad Al Khair.
By glorifying the burgundy colour not only seen in the flag, but also the burgundy that runs through all our veins, Al Bahrani’s sculpture is a testimony to the way in which the country of Qatar embraces race, culture and gender in an impartial manner and honours its people, as Qataris and non-Qataris alike.
Dugong, a site-specific sculpture by Jeff Koons is a celebration of Qatar’s natural heritage.
Standing at a height of over 21 metres and stretching across a length of 31 metres, the inflatable Dugong is a larger than life imagining of the creature, gliding effortlessly through a marine habitat; a celebration of Qatar’s natural heritage.
The world’s second largest population of dugongs live in Qatar. These marine mammals are believed to have made their first appearance in the waters of the Arabian Gulf approximately 7,500 years ago.
Isa Genzken’s installation at the Qatar National Theatre is a powerful celebration of life.
For Two Orchids, the artist created monumental white orchids using industrial materials, such as stainless steel and aluminium. Despite its overwhelming scale, an airiness hangs over the work, as its delicate form stretches along two stems attached to supporting stakes. The orchids are planted in a grouping of elegant, white blossoms. Rife with ambiguities, the sculpture underscores the fragility, elegance, and beauty commonly associated with the flower’s image.
Two Orchids functions as a powerful celebration of life while its perennial existence inevitably suggests our own mortality.
Us, Her, Him is a site-specific public installation that welcomes visitors to the newly inaugurated Flag Plaza.
Najla El Zein said: “Us, Her, Him – is an installation that reflects on human interaction and connection. It is composed of a series of sculptural benches spanning over three hundred and thirteen meters of hand-sculpted limestone, sited all around the Flag Plaza. This is a place of unification, and working in a public space brought a new layer of meaning to my practice.
The sculptures, which are intended as functional seating, illustrate various modes of interaction: acquaintance, friendship, love, introversion, confidence, familiarity, fluidity and obstruction. While each piece has its own individuality, they come together as a collective. I hope that my work will be a meaning part of this new public space, celebrating the commonality and connections that exist between individuals of all ages and backgrounds.”
Shouq Al Mana (b. 1996) is a Qatari contemporary artist whose practice focuses on culture and identity influenced by her interest in merging elements from the past and the present.
Located at Lusail Marina Promenade, Egal serves as a tribute to Qatar’s history and traditions, by representing a piece of cultural headwear worn by men as part of the national attire. The egal is typically worn on top of the ghitra, a square scarf. The raised stance of the egal is a symbol of respect and appreciation towards Qatar’s leadership, citizens and residents for their unity during the blockade that began on 5 June 2017. With the variable heights of each egal, the artist highlights the different generations that experienced the blockade.
Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair’s sculpture creates a space for communality and collective engagement.
Prominently located along the waterfront in MIA Park, Bench (1969-71) is a public sculpture comprised of seventeen limestone pieces that form a semi-circular seat. The continuous interconnecting stones draw on forms from science as well as the rhythmic, self-reliant structure of Arabic poetry (Qasa’id), embodying the progressive growth and universal expression of society and citizenship.
Saloua Raouda Choucair (1916–2017) created this piece to be in dialogue with the park, referencing her influences of modularity and infiniteness in Islamic and modernist art and architecture, and the progressive systems of the natural and urban landscape.
In Islamic culture, the number seven has spiritual significance. Richard Serra pays homage to this in this sculpture – constructed from seven steel plates.
The powerful piece faces the sea in MIA Park, embracing the surrounding greenery and delighting spectators as they relax by the coast.
Richard Serra was commissioned by Qatar Museums to create 7 based on the personal recommendation of I.M.Pei – the architect who built the adjacent Museum of Islamic Art.
According to Pei, he wanted an artist that would complement the museum and ‘connect the aesthetic content of the museum to the possibility of building a public space for the people’.
The project took around three years to complete and was unveiled in 2011.
The installation of César’s Pouce in Souq Waqif continues the programme of installations by major artists at unexpected locations throughout Qatar.
Qatar Museums selected Souq Waqif as the location for Pouce so the work could act as a landmark of modern art in the heart of the city, combining the traditional with the contemporary. Its central position, at the top of Al Souq Street and at the heart of the bustling restaurant area, emphasises its scale in relation to the surrounding streetscape of cafés, coffee shops and eateries.
At night, the highly polished bronze patina of the sculpture complements the glow of street lighting at this site and during the day, the work is visible from numerous angles and street views. It has become a prominent marker, a familiar spot where people agree to meet. It also provides an important location for tourists and visitors and has become a stop within public art tours that reflect upon both the art and the diverse public spaces of the city.
Abdulrahman Ahmed Al-Ishaq, Qatar Museums’ Director of Public Art, said: “It has been an honour to partner with Ashghal to install these incredible artworks by celebrated local, regional and international artists and we thank them for their generous support. Qatar Museums invites residents and visitors to Qatar to experience these pieces, which have transformed Qatar into an outdoor canvas.”
Eng. Mohammad Arqoub Al Khaldi, Chairman of the Supervisory Committee of Beautification of Roads and Public Places in Qatar, said: “Displaying artworks in public places such as parks and beaches is a part of the Committee’s commitment to increasing the presence of art all around us. We look forward to further expanding the cooperation between the Committee and Qatar Museums in this regard as this plays a big role in highlighting Qatar’s cultural identity to visitors but also benefits the citizens and residents of Qatar.”
Throughout 2022, Qatar Museums has installed more than 40 new and commissioned public artworks across Doha in a variety of public spaces including parks and shopping areas, educational and athletic facilities, Hamad International Airport and Q-Rail stations, as well as select stadiums that are hosting the FIFA World Cup matches.