A final look at the “Shifting Spaces & Forgotten Walls” exhibition that was recently held at Art 29 at the W Doha Hotel & Residences. Through a series of photographs and videos, the exhibition provided a closer look at the diversity of Qatar’s atmospheric Old Al Rayyan Area.

Qatar’s exponential economic growth since the 1970s has given rise to massive changes in city planning, with older buildings giving way to new urban development, and the Old Al Rayyan Area is just one such space. It lies just outside of Qatar Foundation.

Home to car washes, tailors and juice shops, the neighborhood is a mute testimony to the area’s growth and transformation. In order to engage with the wider community and build bridges between two worlds, a group of graphic design students and faculty from VCUQatar are researching and documenting the shifting spaces and forgotten walls of Al Shagab Street. Through a series of photographs and videos, the exhibition provides a closer look at the diversity of Qatar through the lens of street culture in Doha’s Old Al Rayyan Area.

The photography of the neighborhood capture some of Doha’s unique facades, faces, “street” culture and essence of community, and provide us with a closer look at the places we so often see, but never notice. They are nevertheless, an integral part of the community and its history.

The videos, a mix of mini-documentaries and short interviews, feature the students engaging with business owners about the history of the area, discussing the shop history, and reflecting on the shop owner’s personality. The videos also highlight how the students imagine they would use their graphic design skills to reinvigorate the small businesses by redesigning the shop fronts to make them more eye-catching and appealing.

These photographs and videos came out of research that occurred in my Graphic Design elective “Design for Social Innovation”. These students worked collaboratively with a course in “Arabic Type Design” taught by Basma Hamdy to reimagine and redesign Qatar’s storefronts. The initiative was conceived as an attempt to engage with the wider community and build bridges between two diverse worlds.

THANK YOU to everyone who came out to see the work and support the project!

Check out these online mentions as part of the unveiling of Art 29, a gallery dedicated to showcasing emerging local, regional and international artists in Doha, Qatar. The “Shifting Spaces & Forgotten Walls” exhibition was featured in the articles as the first exhibition held at Art 29.