Cartoonists and caricature artists in Qatar have been in circulation for many years now but it was right after the more than 21-month-old blockade when they were given more exposure and importance as they now have rational reasons to address politics in the GCC region in a more liberated way through the editorial cartoons that they release on a regular basis in one of Qatar's big 3 English dailies namely Gulf Times, The Peninsula, and Qatar Tribune.
A caricature is a rendered image showing the features of its subject in a simplified or exaggerated way. They can be insulting or complimentary and can serve a political purpose or be drawn solely for entertainment.
Caricatures of politicians are commonly used in editorial cartoons, while caricatures of movie stars are often found in entertainment magazines.
In Qatar's case, as there really is no sort of entertainment sector in this part of the world, caricatures focus mainly on GCC state leaders with the ongoing diplomatic embargo used as the central theme of such.
Once published in newspapers, caricatures will then be regarded as "editorial cartoons."
According to a report from Reuters, this form of journalism is becoming a strong news element in local Qatari newspapers and are increasingly attracting many readers, as they draw attention to some of the most controversial social and political issues in the emirate.
Qatar-based editorial cartoonists say they now enjoy more freedom to be openly critical by touching on topics that were previously considered sensitive, such as health services and corruption in private and government institutions.
The former part of this write-up is true to Qatari cartoonist Saad Al Mohannadi who told Reuters that editorial cartoonists like him are now indeed "enjoying more freedom."
Saad publishes his daily cartoons in a local newspaper from his home office in the coastal city of Al Khor, north of the capital Doha.
He believes that the boldness of the cartoon depends on the topic, saying that some issues require a provocative approach while others don't.
"If the topic I am criticising or the negative phenomenon I am discussing is rude and flagrant, it requires a cartoon that can match it in strength and boldness. That's when you sense boldness in cartoons. Moreover, the Arab reality, with the recent revolutions, have increased the freedom limit. Such events also require powerful and bold cartoons to cope with them."
A Facebook user who goes by the name of Kenfan Jen commented by saying:
"Wow! Qatar is seriously trolling the blockading countries in this new section of QT. 👍"
A Twitter user who goes by the name of @Ms.AllRights commented by saying:
"More than just a cartoon. It's reality."
A Facebook user who goes by the name of Liaki Ayoouni commented by saying:
"Guys, this is Anwar Gharghash. He is the UAE state minister for foreign affairs. He tweets about Qatar more than he breaths. This cartoon is very smart! ✌️"
A Facebook user who goes by the name of MaHabub Alam commented by saying:
"This is what happens when jealousy strikes."
A Facebook user who goes by the name of Jomar Pires commented by saying:
"I have to laugh. Want to help? END THE BLOCKADE NOW!!"
In the same report by Reuters, Al Mohannadi said that none of his cartoons were ever banned from being published. However, he still challenges controversial issues to see how far he can go with freedom of expression.
Al Sharq Arabic Editor-in-Chief Jaber Al Harami even once said that as freedom of expression grows in the country, so does the boldness of cartoon topics.
Many Qatari cartoonists are now publishing their work on social media which attracts higher numbers of viewers.
In a past article that we've published, we named the top caricature artists and cartoonists in Qatar. The list includes the likes of Joanne Brooke, Khalid A. Ali, and Shuujat Ali to name a few.
Have you seen any of these witty editorial cartoons printed in various Qatar dailies? If yes, what's your stand about them? Drop us a line in the comments and also, don't forget to like and share this article—it keeps us going!
(Cover image source: Cartoon Movement)
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