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16 November 2019

The role of art in politics

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Workshop led by THIMUN delegate at Doha Learning Days education festival

Art’s important role in today’s politics and social movements – and how it has the innate ability to unite, as well as divide – was the topic of a THIMUN-led workshop presented at WISE’s Doha Learning Days festival.

The discussion was delivered by Fatima Al-Sulaiti, an 18-year-old student from Qatar. Fatima has been involved in THIMUN for five years as a delegate at its annual conference, which sees Model United Nations students from around the world come together for three days to learn, network, and share ideas.

Drawing on her own experiences growing up, Fatima said: “I am the daughter of a diplomat. I have lived in the UK, Malaysia, and elsewhere, and I grew up with politics in my life, but I have always had a passion for art.

“Over time, I began to realize that art plays a big role in politics, and I discovered that a lot of things we see is influenced by politics.

Fatima’s workshop – which was also presented at the Qatar Leadership Conference last month – explored the concepts of art and politics, and how they are intertwined. Fatima brought the talk to life with relevant examples, including the image of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Amir of Qatar, that went viral following the announcement of the blockade in 2017. Other areas of focus included controversial artists Banksy and Shepard Fairey.

“Ideally, I want to show people that there is a lot more to art than just a drawing – it can have a lot of impact, and it has the ability to influence how we see things,” said Fatima.

“Art brings people together. And it can be used to express an idea, or a metaphor, or a message.”

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The event was attended by students from across Qatar. William Gitta, from Uganda, is a Northwestern University in Qatar student, and said: “Art and politics are certainly linked, so I found the presentation very interesting.

“I particularly liked the information about Banksy. Whenever I revisit Banksy’s work, I learn something new. This time I realized that, maybe, part of his art is vandalism, which is something I hadn’t thought about in the past.”

Doha Learning Days is organized by WISE – an initiative of Qatar Foundation – and is the country’s first experiential learning festival. The six-day event, which concludes on November 19, is taking place across Education City’s Ceremonial Court and Green Spine.

For more information about Doha Learning Days and the activities on offer, please visit: www.wise-qatar.org/wise-2019/doha-learning-days/

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