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Posted On: 4 October 2016 01:27 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:16 pm

The GCC’s art scene is developing, thanks to support from programs like Art Jameel

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that beauty is immortalized through the art of photography.

Art Jameel supporting artists

Art Jameel, an art and culture program based in Saudi Arabia, hopes to engage photographers through workshops in partnership with the British Council all over the GCC. It aims to teach both amateur and professional photographers about different ways to take photos and then get them to participate in the annual Art Jameel Photography Award (AJPA), which has been ongoing for the past three years in the region.

“Photography art in Qatar is booming and there are many young emerging and professional photographers. Through our programs we aim to build capacity in country and through Qatari professional photographers,” said British Council Country Director, Frank Fitzpatrick. “It is a pleasure to partner with Art Jameel and the Fire Station Artists in Residence and we hope this will encourage photographers to apply for the Art Jameel Photography Award 2016.”

266-doha-fire.jpgImage source:

Art Jameel invests largely in an artist to develop the art scene in the Gulf region. This is part of Art Jameel’s community support, to develop art in the community. In Doha, Art Jameel and the British Council have partnered with the Fire Station Artists in Residence to host a workshop.

“Re-Inventing Imagery” workshop

Khalifa Al-Obaidli, a Qatari photographer, led the latest photography workshop on Saturday where he explored the topic of “Re-inventing Imagery”, which is this year’s theme for the AJPA. Al-Obaidli taught attendees about cyanotype photographs. Cyanotype photography involves an interesting printing process, which produces the final result in cyan-blue print.


With each workshop that is completed, attendees also receive a certificate of completion for attending and learning about new ways to capture or create photographs.


“I found that it’s a good opportunity to go on a wider scale on how to recreate an image from the camera. It’s not just the camera, it’s your imagination,” Al-Obaidli said. “This type of process, which is cyanotype, covers and focuses on how to recreate your image.”

Khalifa Al-Obaidli’s work

Al-Obaidli started photography in 1988, he has done many projects and participated in many competitions. He is known as a Fine Arts Photographer and likes to touch upon subjects that concerns the community and the people. He created a particular exhibition called “TAGGED: Portraits,” which focused on Doha’s workers.

“It helps to develop and enhance the workers’ situation here in Qatar,” Al-Obaidli said. “I started these kinds of topics in 2009 with VCU-Q (Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar), and it involved traveling around the world to photo festivals, where my work focusing on workers in Qatar was shown.”

Al-Obaidli has also done traditional artwork about Qatar and about its history, but in abstract ways. His work has been exhibited in Abu Dhabi and has been collected by different collectors.


“My subject reflects more of the community and society. I try to find out things to fuel my passion in art,” Al-Obaidli said. “Sometimes I don’t know how to express myself with words, but with photographs I do.”

Artist or photographer?

Speaking on whether he sees himself as an artist or a photographer, Al-Obaidli shared that his photographs have elements of art in them and aren’t considered “pure photography.”


“But I like photography more than art. I feel that the 2D image isn’t enough. I’m trying to go for the 3D sculptures [in the future],” said Al-Obaidli. “Again, workers will be the subject [of the sculptures]. I will cast them with aluminum, iron, steel, and cement, as these are the materials workers use.”

This sculpture project is expected to be launched sometime next year by Al-Obaidli. It’s still currently a work-in-process.

Doha’s growing art culture and upcoming photography musuem

When asked about artists’ inspiration, Al-Obaidli said that inspiration can be found all around us. He said that when he visits artists studios, especially the younger generation of artists, he gets inspired by their work since they have very creative ideas and an eye for art.

“I’m a very simple guy. Watching things around you, you get inspiration from that. There is no limit for inspiration, you can see it everywhere,” Al-Obaidli said. “But it depends how you see and what you get from it.”

Doha’s museum and art field is constantly growing, with the number of exhibitions increasing each year. Al-Obaidli has been involved in many of the museums’ projects, such as the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar Museums, Msheireb, even some that are on hold, like a new photography museum that’s set to open sometime soon.

“What I see, how the art here is developed between Qataris, local, and international artists, I feel confident. Especially with the new generation,” Al-Obaidli said. “Maybe they need more confidence, more space to talk and show their work and more effort put into their work. But the creativity is there.”


Al-Obaidli believes that some of the art is created more “on request” and for commercial use due to external pressures, rather than what artists want to do themselves. But what the Artists in Residence program tries to do is help them focus on their own artistic process.

“I’m happy and confident with how [art] has developed here in Doha. Sheikha Al-Mayassa also supports the artists a lot and the biggest proof is the Fire Station,” Al-Obaidli said. “The 20 artists, half Qatari, half expats, are being greatly supported, mentored, and given opportunities to exhibit their work.”

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