Back to the Future: Pop-up art studios welcome passersby in the heart of historic Doha

Historic Doha neighbourhood
4 min read

For three months, between October and January 2023, the heritage-steeped neighbourhood of Fereej Al Najada in Doha, Qatar, is hosting local artists and creators in seven traditional houses from the historic district, which are housing a temporary pop-up art studio project and exhibition space called Back to the Future.

Back to the Future: Celebrating art, past and present

Back to the Future is just one of the projects launched by Qatar Creates, a year-round cultural initiative working to foster and provide a platform for artistic and cultural events in Qatar, as well as paying homage to their diversity, all as part of the 2022 World Cup celebrations.

The beautiful, historic houses have been lovingly renovated, and will give the chance to artists and designers to work on and promote their artworks to visitors in Qatar who have come for the World Cup, who will be able to wander through the open studios and art galleries and view the art and digital installations as well as shopping on the site.

"Back to the Future aims to kickstart a dialogue about Qatar's creative history and future potential, as well as showcasing the current art scene in the country"

Back to the Future aims to kickstart a dialogue about Qatar's creative history and future potential, as well as showcase the current art scene in the country.

Restoring a jewel of historic Doha

Director of the project, Fahad Al Obaidly, said: "We worked seriously to respect the original architectural style and identity of Fereej Al Najada. Our main aim was honouring the communities who lived and thrived between these walls over the last century, and to give the neighbourhood a new pulse, to connect Qatari society with its past."

Director of Cultural Heritage Protection at Qatar Museums, Abdullatif Al-Jasmi, has led efforts to restore and preserve the area for future generations.

Al-Jasmi said: "Back in the day, Fereej Al Najada was full of memories, life and bustle, but all of that is now a thing of the past. To truly preserve this part of our history, we have restored the buildings and given them new stories to tell. By renovating and adapting Al Najada's heritage buildings, we are writing a new chapter in the story of this neighbourhood – one that celebrates the history and spirit of the area, while providing inspiration for the creative community."

Getting to know Qatari artists

Visitors to Fereej Al Najada will be able to get to know local Qatari artists in an informal environment and chat directly with renowned Qatari artists, such as Yousef Ahmad, Maryam Al-Homaid, Amal Al Aathem, Anfal Al Kandari, Abdulaziz Yousef, and Bashir Mohammed, and new talents such as Virginia Commonwealth University graduates Aisha Al-Abdulla and Abdulrahman Al Muftah, among others.

One of the oldest districts in the heart of Doha, Fereej Al Najada was once a centre for local families to gather, celebrate and connect with one another.

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Doha's rapid urbanisation during the seventies after the country's independence resulted in the gradual decline of the district, and many of its historic buildings were demolished.  

Through the Al Turath al Hai (Living Heritage) initiative, Qatar Museums has taken steps to preserve the cultural and architectural heritage of Fareej Al Najada, restoring an area of 5,360 square metres and transforming it into an open public space.

The overall aim is to link society, culture and the economy by providing the necessary space for Qatar's creative industries and enabling interconnection between generations.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition with additional reporting. To read the original article click here.

Translated by Rose Chacko   

This article is taken from our Arabic sister publication, Al-Araby Al Jadeed and mirrors the source's original editorial guidelines and reporting policies. Any requests for correction or comment will be forwarded to the original authors and editors.

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