A peek into Qatari traditions and souqs

 14 Feb 2016 - 13:28

A peek into Qatari traditions and souqs
Opening of the A Click for A Cause under the title of From the Souq photography Exhibition by Qatari photographers held at Shangri-La hotel. (Photo: Baher Amin)

From the vantage point of four Qatari artists, there is more to souqs than a tourist attraction or a commercial space or a place to while away time. The photographers exhibit what they captured with their cameras at “A Click for a Cause - #ShangrilART” in Shangri-La Hotel Doha.
By Raynald C Rivera

Souqs are a quintessential element firmly woven into the very fabric of Qatar’s fascinating cultural landscape.
No tourist has, perhaps, not paid a visit to Souq Waqif to purchase a thing or two to remind him of the trip or take photos of the souq’s rustic-looking buildings planted along its cobblestone-paved alleyways immersing themselves into the Qatari culture and tradition.
From the vantage point of four Qatari artists, there is more to souqs than a tourist attraction or a commercial space or a place to while away time.
For Khalid Al Shibli, more important are the people who visit the souq and he attempts to capture their movements from above.
“I was looking at the souq as one big organism. I wanted to capture the natural organic flow of the people, how they interact with the souq as they saunter on its alleyways,” Khalid told Doha Today of his “Over the Souq” collection.
He imagines the view as if he were a falcon roaming curiously over the traditional buildings.
“I wanted to cover a larger radius and I could only do that from a bird’s eye view, that’s why I took it from this angle so I could give a full and proper sense of the movement of a large mass of people in the area.”
On his choice of subject, he explains, “The souq is an important part of Qatar’s history and tradition. I personally like the traditional aspect of the souq and the traditional aesthetic of the area.”
His interest in photography began three years ago as a fun activity with his friend and ended with him buying a professional camera.
“It started as a friendly competition between me and my friend using our phones. Then it sparked my interest in photography so I started using a professional camera and when I discovered the many features that I could utilise I engaged more in photography using professional camera.”
What started as a pastime has turned into a passion that Khalid wants to pursue in not so remote future.
“I just don’t love photography. I’m very passionate about it, but I slowed down temporarily because of academic commitments. I’m currently a senior student in Qatar University taking Business.”
Khalid’s photos are part of the “A Click for a Cause - #ShangrilART”- group exhibition featuring four Qatari artists organised by QTalent and Shangri-La Hotel Doha.
“This is purely a hobby and passion project but once I graduate and have more time in my hands, I will have more time to dedicate towards my passion and travel to do more nature and landscape photography.”
Young writer, blogger and photographer Tahani Al Hajri focuses on traditional handicraft in her photos included in the expo.
“My collection is called “Our Past. It is about traditional handmade trades popular in the past,” she explains.

(photo: Baher Amin)

Apart from her penchant for anything locally made, Tahani’s interest on photographing Qatari handicraft was born out of commitment to preserve an important part of her culture that she fears will be forgotten as progress accelerates.
I love traditional scenes, handicraft in particular, and I document them through my camera because people begin to forget them. I took this photo of an old man doing craft by hand in a festival in Katara. I just took this photo in order for people not to forget it.
To preserve traditional Qatari handicraft, “I think the younger generation have to learn from artisans because there are not lots in Qatar now. People should be encouraged to learn from them because after sometime people might forget about them. They will just buy online and forget all our handmade products.”
She first ventured into photography in 2008 and until now it remains a hobby she has always desired when time permits.
“I don’t do it all the time. I just like to capture moments, historical places, traditionally handmade objects,” says Tahani, who has always been a globetrotter and blogger.
“I like to travel a lot to new places and destinations like Poland and Hungary where I took a lot of photos which I plan to exhibit in the future.”
Having been to various cities around the world, however, it there is no place like home which for her stands out in a special way.
“Qatar is unique because it has managed to strike a balance between modern and traditional which you can’t find in other countries.”
Another artist whose works are featured at the expo is veteran professional photographer Rashed Al Mohannadi, whose collection looks at common objects and scenes in a different way.
Capturing the images in black-and-white, Rashed takes the viewers’ focus to the very core of his subjects.
With over 19 years of commercial experience, Rashed has participated in many local and international photography and art exhibitions and his work collected by many curators around the world.
Ameera Radhi shifts the viewers’ attention to the walls of the buildings in souqs in her “Old is Gold” collection. Using her lens, Ameera creates a striking contrast between the rustic monotonous walls with the clear bright sky.
A VCU-Q student, Ameera is also an amateur filmmaker and founder of QomraQtr photography group and says her goal is to “Translate thoughts into visual materials.”
The exhibition is the inaugural photo expo for both Qatar Talent (QTalent) and Shangri-La Hotel Doha.
“We collaborated with Shangri-La Hotel to organise this photography exhibition that features four Qatari photographers whose collections are inspired by their own vision of the souq,” said QTalent founder Maryam Al Subaiey.
“QTalent is a talent agency that provides sales, recruitment, and consultation services for local talent to promote them and link them to available opportunities in the market,” said Maryam.
The exhibition displays 21 photos which are all for sale.
“Fifty percent of the sales will be donated to the refugees. The photos are available in different sizes and prices because we want to encourage people to support local talent and purchase local art. This is the first photography exhibition for our company and we hope to support more local talents by organising more exhibitions for them,” added Maryam.
The exhibition is one of many events lined up by Shangri-La Hotel Doha to position itself as a patron for arts and culture especially in support of local Qatari talents.
“A Click for a Cause - #ShangrilART” is open to the public in the exhibition foyer located at level 2 of the hotel.

The Peninsula