Murals outside the venue, painted by artists from VCUarts Qatar, aim to showcase local life and culture to the world in 2022
The Education City Stadium recently hosted its first official match, a season opener for the Qatar Stars League 2020. Since most football enthusiasts watched the match at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 venue virtually from home due to COVID-19 restrictions, what they might have missed are the newly installed murals outside the stadium painted by budding artists in Qatar.
The idea for the murals came about when the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) was finishing preparations to launch the Education City Stadium in 2019. They wanted to create a lively and engaging space outside the stadium that captures the essence of its unique location – in the midst of the vibrant Qatar Foundation (QF) environment that hosts universities, schools, research centers, and all-year-round community activities.
The SC put out a call for local artists, particularly from the nearby Virginia Commonwealth School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), a partner university of QF, inviting them to paint the walls outside the stadium with artworks that capture life in Education City, Qatari culture, spirit of football, and more.
“The brief was to build murals around the stadium that depict what Education City means to us and depict something that has an aspect of the local culture—something that speaks to the community,” said Mohammad Jawad, an alumnus of VCUarts Qatar who participated in designing the murals. “We had about 10 days to two weeks, so there was a pretty short timeframe to decide what to paint and actually do it.”
Like football, there is no language barrier for art. You can have people who speak different languages, with different views, all come together to enjoy it
Jawad, who has spent almost a decade studying and working at QF, was excited to get involved and reflect what the campus means to him through his artwork.
His mural comprised different faces of people drawn with one continuous line, signifying the unity amid the diverse community within Education City, and Qatar as a whole. Jawad added that the unity and resilience that the people of Qatar have shown, especially after the blockade of the country by its neighbors, was what inspired his artwork.
“It really came down to the theme of power among the people and how—when they unify as one—they can achieve a lot,” said Jawad. “And what also really encapsulates my experience of Education City is the diversity of people and the unity within them.
“That really makes this space what this is, or it would just be like any other space. So, I was talking about the larger community of Qatar, how it has a mix of expats and locals, and the higher harmony they live in.”
About 15 artists participated in designing the murals, mostly VCUarts Qatar students and alumni. The project was managed by SC employee and local artist Yasser Al Mulla, in collaboration with Mubarak Al Malik, a well-known Qatari graffiti artist.
“Engaging the local community is at the heart of our plans and preparations for the FIFA World Cup and this project is a testament to our efforts to include everyone on our journey to 2022,” said Al Mulla.
The significance of these murals is that it's a way of archiving history in time. Through this expression of art, you archive history and what the country was going through at a specific time
“Each mural tells a story about Qatar, its history, people, and rich culture. Fans visiting Education City Stadium in 2022 will get a taste of the county’s burgeoning art culture and will be able to form discussions about the depictions in the murals. Like football, there is no language barrier for art. You can have people who speak different languages, with different views, all come together to enjoy it."
The installation of murals in collaboration with the local community around the stadium is an example of the various activities SC organizes to ensure engagement of the stadiums with the public, and a lasting legacy for these massive infrastructure developments beyond 2022.
“The significance of these murals is that it's a way of archiving history in time. Through this expression of art, you archive history and what the country was going through at a specific time, what the country really stood for, or what the people really believed in,” said Jawad. “The next big thing everyone is waiting for is 2022. So, to be part of a group of artists presenting or depicting their expression to showcase during the World Cup is a way of giving back to the community and as a way of self-expression.”
“The project is also a reminder that the World Cup is more than just 28 days of football, away from this, it is a cultural celebration uniting the world together. For us, to be able to engage the Qatar Foundation community, in this once-in-a-life-time opportunity on the road to delivering the first World Cup in the Middle East, is about providing a platform for its members to leave their mark for generations to come,” Al Mulla added.