Fans and visitors arriving for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will have a unique experience of public art throughout their journey — from their arrival at the airport, metro stations, hotels and fan zones, to the stadiums.
Director of Public Art at Qatar Museums (QM), Abdulrahman Ahmad Al Ishaq, says QM is striving to make fans' experience in Qatar exceptional.
“Naturally, various installations will be sport-inspired, but the World Cup is not exclusively about sport. It is also about friendship, togetherness and humanity,” he said in a video posted online by Qatar Museums.
Currently, Qatar has over 80 public artworks spread across the country. An additional 40 new, major works of public art will be added in time for the World Cup. In total, over 100 public artworks will be on view during the tournament, transforming the country’s public spaces into a vast outdoor art museum.
“A great part of the collection reflects our local, Arab, and Islamic culture. This is an opportunity to break the stereotypes of our societies, which is one of the roles of public art,” said Al Ishaq.
“Public art, by nature, is not targeted to a particular demographic, but is dedicated to all segments of society. Qatar is a multicultural country, so it is essential that we are inclusive when providing an artwork, or to diversify the offering to different demographics, whether they are of an older generation that may prefer traditional cultural topics, or of the younger generations that know what’s trendy through social media.”
Hamad International Airport has various public art installations including the famous Lamp Bear by Swiss artist Urs Fischer. Lamp Bear is welcoming the guests at the airport and celebrating the idea of travel, just as the artist celebrates travelling back in time to the symbols of childhood — a place we have all been to and where once in a while we like to go back.
Al Ishaq described this artwork as one of the most significant public art in the country.
“This Lamp Bear is a piece that has a distinctive place in the heart of each traveller. Previously, if someone were to travel, they would take a photograph of their ticket, or their seat on the plane. Now, they take a picture of the lamp-bear and captions 'astawdieukum Allah (farewell)', and that’s how you know they’re going on a vacation. It cheers people up, and some even call it 'the sweetheart of millions'.
"The primary reason is that airports can be viewed as transitory places, occupied by exhausted travellers. In contrast, the bear reminds people of the warmth of home.”
From the airport to metro, blank walls have been painted with striking artworks that are evident in Al Sadd and Msheireb metro stations to name a few.
Public artworks were also installed at hotels including the iconic bright blue Hahn (2021) by German artist Katharina Fritsch currently at Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel.
Artworks have also been installed near the World Cup stadiums. They American conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner’s All The Stars In The Sky Have The Same Face (2011/20) installed at Stadium 974, and I Live Under Your Sky Too (2022), a light installation by Shilpa Gupta in the form of an animated sentence, also at Stadium 974, among others.
Al Ishaq described Qatar’s public art as the “cherry on top” amidst the country’s development in various sectors.
Abdulrahman Ahmad Al Ishaq added: “Qatar has exerted unprecedented efforts to develop its own foundation, infrastructure, economy, culture, education, and med-icine. We are now able to look beyond this achievement and are mounting these works of art on our streets. I always like to give this example: public art is the ‘cherry on top of the cake,’ the cake is the foun-dation, but when you’re done baking it, you place this cherry on top which gives the impression that you’re satisfied with what you’ve created.”