02 March 2009

VCUQatar opens the Mousharaka Professional Conference with keynote address by Ibrahim Jaidah

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar in partnership with Icograda opened the Mousharaka Professional Conference with the keynote address by Ibrahim Jaidah on 2 March, 2009 at 7:00 pm in the university’s atrium.

The opening began with Muneera Umedaly Spence, Chairperson of the Mousharaka Organizing Committee and the Chairperson of the Graphic Design Department at VCUQatar, welcoming everybody to the opening. This was followed by VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone’s welcome speech.

In it, Dean Vanstone thanked The Minister of Labor Dr. Sultan Al Dosari, Icograda President Don Chang, Vice-President of Education for the Qatar Foundation Dr. Abdullah Al Thani and the audience, welcoming them to the Professional Conference for Mousharaka, the first Icograda Design Week in the Arabian Gulf. She went on to thank the VCUQatar faculty, Icograda board members and specially Ms Spence who collaborated to make this conference a reality.

Ms Vansotne continued illustrating what was to come in the coming days during the Mousharaka Conference, “hoping for inspiration and the development of a dialogue that will energize design thinking in all spheres of design activity.” She continued highlighting VCUQatar’s tenth anniversary and what the university has achieved and plans to accomplish. “Our primary mission is to lead design education in Qatar, and build regional capacity for a design research culture and a thriving, innovative, design profession.  The scope of this challenge can only be accomplished through ongoing cooperation across cultures, religions, languages, disciplines, industries and countries. The attendance tonight of over 400 people in the audience including 168 students from 14 different countries ranging from Australia to Zimbabwe tells me that we have lots of partners in willing to join us in this endeavor. As the speakers and participants at Mousharaka so clearly illustrate, design in the 21st century is an interdisciplinary, international and collaborative venture,” she added.

She concluded thanking Her Highness, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for her vision and inexhaustible commitment to education and wished everyone an engaging conference.

Don Chang, Icograda President addressed the gathering next, thanking Qatar Foundation and VCUQatar for hosting this design week with in partnership with Icograda. He spoke about the relevance of design in the world today and how the role of graphic designers had evolved so they were now communication designers, evolving responsibly in a changing planet, creating through interdisciplinary channels, thoughts of social, economical and cultural benefits for society.

Dr. Abdullah Al Thani addressed the gathering on behalf of Qatar Foundation and spoke of His Highness The Emir’s vision to equip Qatar and the region to meet the challenges of the 21st century and how Qatar Foundation was doing this with the three pillars of education, research and community development. “The first to come was Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts. And I can say that, during the 10 years it has been here, it has made major contributions to all three parts of our mission,” he said. “But the hosting of this international design conference is for us a coming of age, and just as the opening of the Museum of Islamic Art has marked Doha’s accession to the title of one of the world’s great cultural capitals, hosting the Icograda Design Week in Doha does something similar in the area of design,” he remarked. He concluded hoping guests leaving Qatar would be enriched having witnessed for a very short time the remarkable developments here.

The final speech of the day was delivered by Abdulaziz Al Sulaiti on behalf of the Ministry of Labor. He thanked the Emir and Her Highness for their vision and support and all the sponsors who have been supporting VCUQatar’s Tasmeem Design Week over the years, and extending the same support to Mousharaka this year.

The event of the evening was the notable keynote address by renowned Qatari architect Ibrahim Jaidah who elaborated on the importance of Mousharaka and how without it we could not have developed the civilizations we have today. He gave instances of the influence Venice had on Middle Eastern architecture and how the Ottomans, when they went to Europe, invited artists from all over the world to create masterpieces – another form of Mousharaka.

Mr. Jaidah’s work on the Sharq Village & Spa was a Mousharaka as well. He spoke about how he had to recreate the 1960s neighborhood that existed there but had been demolished. He talked about working with the client Qatar National Hotels to make this feasible and the Thai Spa operator, who had to learn about the culture and everything it entailed from the segregation of sexes to the effect of shades and shadows – resulting in a beautiful traditional-looking Spa.

“Everything from the lobby to the bedrooms had a theme. The lobby was spacious, yet contemporary, the bedrooms straight out of the Arabian Nights – all local vernacular. Yet we had to make this work, as the hotel has to make money, of course,” he smiled. He mentioned the others involved in the project as well from the designers, and landscape artists to the management Ritz Carlton. He spoke of how the success of this collaboration resonated every time one walked through the hotel.

He continued highlighting some of his other projects, like the 100-storey building that he consulted with world-famous architects on, and the very contemporary mosque, where he worked very closely with celebrated architect Arata Isozaki on. He concluded telling the students how fortunate they were to have the opportunities given to them and how they could be leading designers in the region.

Mr. Jaidah is a pioneer of a new movement in architecture that combines the far-reaching influences of Islamic art with a modern style. AEB’s work has led to several awards, including two other Arab Cities Awards and one Islamic Cities Award. Mr. Jaidah will soon be publishing a book charting the history of Qatari Architecture, followed by a second book chronicling the evolution of the AEB architectural style.


Earlier in the afternoon VCUQatar spearheaded the creation of MEDEA – the Middle East Design Educators Association - a platform for educators charged with getting the most out of design. Sonia Ashour, design entrepreneur from Saudi Arabia, Australian Russell Kennedy, President Elect Icograda and British designer Ian Silverstein were the speakers who focused on designers of the future and integration of design opportunities into business, civil society, design entrepreneurship and design leadership. VCUQatar’s Assistant Professor Peter Martin was assigned as facilitator generating a vision statement and agenda for future MEDEA meetings.

Mousharaka / The Icograda Design Week in Qatar, presented by VCUQatar, is composed of the Education Symposium and the Professional Conference, where prominent speakers will share perspectives on design and design collaborations and students will engage in two-day workshops culminating in an exhibition of the best work.. VCUQatar is also spearheading the creation of MEDEA – the Middle East Design Educators Association - a platform for educators charged with getting the most out of design. For more information about Mousharaka, featured speakers and events, and to register please visit http://www.mousharaka.com/

Design Debate Doha takes place on 3 March, 2009 in the atrium at VCUQatar. The event is open to the public.

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