Exclusively from our Chairperson
We asked our Chairperson, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, to talk to us about her inspiration for art, heritage and creativity in Qatar. She shared her goals and opened up to us about the highlights of her job.
Read the full interview below and prepare to be inspired. You can find out more about our Chairperson and her office here and share your thoughts on this post through our social media hub. You can also find more interviews like this in our In Conversation feature.
When did your passion for arts and culture begin?
H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa: Art and culture have always played a role in my life. As with every child, you are already exposed to various forms of art from a very young age. I've always enjoyed going to museums and learning about people from different cultures and civilizations, which is why I studied international affairs and literature. Although I started my career in the foreign service, I found that working in the culture sector is the perfect bridge to combine my interests, and my priorities in bringing up my own children.
Art and culture is a religion we can all practice. It's a space to discuss, interact and show all works of art, as well as the people behind the creation of exemplary things. It acts as a facilitator to connect the other invaluable cultural entities in Qatar and the world with our community. We learn from these interactions on a daily basis.
Finally, what always remains from the greatest civilizations and histories is their buildings and artefacts. For example, despite the decline of the Roman Empire, the buildings of that period still remain a living, tangible part of its culture. The frescos created during that period of time continue to engage artists and visitors from all walks of life. The Pyramids and Pharonic civilization in Egypt, the Mayas and Aztects in Latin America, Tribal art in Africa - they all continue to survive long after their existence.
What excites you most about the future of Qatar's cultural sector?
H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa: What's exciting is that the various entities that are working towards delivering Qatar's 2030 vision are working together and complementing the gaps across the different institutions. QM is only one part of the larger picture. We work closely with the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage as well as Katara and Qatar Foundation. Naturally, this allows for diversity and the exchange of ideas. The growth of the private sector's interest in cultural activities is also promising for the sustainability of Qatar's vision.
What impact do you hope the work of Qatar Museums will have on Qatar and beyond?
H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa: The main focus of QM has always been in engaging local audiences with the rest of the world. Our strategy is in line with Qatar's 2030 Vision. It bridges entities from the government and non-government sectors, private and public sectors - allowing creativity to flourish alongside our rapid development.
More recently we have been entrusted by the Supreme Education Council to help develop the arts curriculum in schools as well as teacher training in arts education. This is significant because it ensures that students and teachers alike are using the museums and cultural institutions as extra-curricular labs where they learn real subjects from objects on display.
You can take the MIA as an example - lots of maths and science classes take place within the MIA using the museum's astrology collection. The MIA has the second largest collection of astrolabes in the world and it's great for students to go back to their own history to apply current scientific methods. The upcoming 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports museum also works really closely with the Qatar Olympic Committee and Health Sectors to promote healthy lifestyles.
If you dig a little deeper, you'll find that QM has already worked, and is continuing to do so, across a range of sectors, with various entities in Qatar: Hamad Hospital, Qatar Foundation, Katara, Aspire, the new Hamad International Airport, and Ashgal, to name just a few.
Can you describe the highlights of your working day?
H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa: Every day is a different working day; but every day is equally challenging! His Highness the Emir's vision for Qatar's future is ambitious and requires a lot of hard work. It takes discipline to live up to the responsibilities that are expected of all of us. As a public servant, it brings me great pleasure to interact with the QM family and various entities that work alongside us. It's also a great pleasure to welcome international delegates from around the world who want to develop cultural bridges with Qatar. We are looking forward to Qatar hosting the UNESCO World Heritage Conference next month. Qatar is the perfect bridge for East and West, and we continue to foster this on a daily basis.
What role would you like art and culture to play in the lives of children?
H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa: Every child is born an artist. Children think creatively and by exposing them to arts education and cultural institutions from a young age, it nurtures innate talent. Our objective is not to turn every Qatari into an artist, but rather to enrich their lives with the history of art and the ability to be creative. This would help each person in their future career, even if it's non-arts related. It's a tool, another language that brings people together and creates a space for innovation and expression.