Sonia Ashour: ‘Cultural Identity’ breaking the boundaries of cliches

This lecture illustrates the importance of the Gulf’s vocal tradition in retrieving information needed to develop relevant context, it also clarifies that understanding this culture and taking a closer look at its vocal tradition is not to recreate the past, however to achieve an in-depth understanding of this region to set a platform for innovative yet rooted design solutions. Part of the 2011/2011 Crossing Boundaries Lecture Series.

“A city without heritage is like a person without a memory”

The Gulf is built on a vocal tradition of stories, poems and pearling songs. Passed on from one generation to the other, this tradition sets the bases of information needed to understand the “WHY?” factor of it’s social structure and built environment. Today the Gulf is witnessing a major transformation on all levels, to include architecture and design and with the influx of foreign design firms in the effort of modernization this region is rapidly loosing its identity.

The information needed to understand this culture has been overlooked and neglected by it’s own people and invaluable information buried in these stories, poems and pearling songs have been cast aside resulting in design solutions alien to their environment.

This event is free and open to the public.


VCUQatar Atrium

Part of the 2011/2011 Crossing Boundaries Lectures

VCUQatar’s Crossing Boundaries Lecture Series reflects the cross-disciplinary nature of the featured speakers who are representatives of excellence in design thinking. Each speaker will present a paradigm of design thinking that seeks to evolve solutions to problems in innovative, creative ways.

About Sonia Ashour

Sonia Ashour is the co-founder of the Department of Interior Design at Dar Al- Hekma where she has also lectured in Foundation of Color, Graphics and Drawing. In 2001, Ashour founded A|G interior design consultants and has been the Principal since. Her firm handles high profile sovereign and cultural projects including embassies and residences for ambassadors for the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The UNESCO Arab Regional Center for World Heritage in Bahrain. Restoration projects include the late Minoru Yamasaki Airport in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and the Murad Guest House for the Ministry of Culture, Bahrain (a UNESCO world heritage nominated project).

Ashour is passionate about where she comes from and plays an active role in the field of academia. She teaches and advises on a volunteer basis at several Gulf-based universities and speaks on the subject of “Cultural Identity” at many conferences. She has conducted numerous cultural workshops including MENALAB 2010 in Dubai, UAE on “The preservation of Al-Khoor” and continues to act as a design and cultural advisor on many mega projects in the Gulf.

Sonia Ashour has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interior Architecture from King Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in International Hospitality Design from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.

Lecture Dates

21 Sep


Free - Open invitation


VCUQatar Atrium