Shua’a Ali Stacks on Qatar’s Future

Qatari artist Shua’a Ali is quite busy. She is one of the designers behind the first collection of furniture from Qatari-Italian brand FROMM and has used her creative senses to give furniture designs an edge that only an artist can envision. She has also finished two public art installations, each an interplay of natural materials with a stacking element added in its formation, a story behind its inception.

In August, 2022, Qatar Creates launched the latest of Shua’a Ali’s public artwork as part of the new programme of Qatar Museums where new and commissioned public artworks by celebrated Qatari, regional and international artists would be presented throughout Doha. Right from its international airport, from the Qatari desert to the bustling Souq Waqif, in the coming weeks and months, the nation’s public spaces will be transformed into a vast outdoor art museum experience featuring more than 100 public artworks, which will be on view for locals and the 1.5 million visitors who are expected to travel to Doha for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

Called Milestones, Shua’a Ali’s work can be found at the Grand Hamad Plaza – Node 2 and is representative of an important period in the economic history of Qatar. It symbolises the financial system which has transformed from a pearl diving economy to various forms of modern industries. In addition, it highlights the accelerating developments the city has experienced in the past decades.

“The ropes wrapped around the work twice represents the two-month dive, and wrapped the work around four times representing the 40-day dive. In addition, the gold stone represents wealth and prosperity and how the area as transformed later to the financial district and gold souq,” explains Ali.

Shua’a Ali has always been involved with the creative field having studying art in various countries she has travelled to. With parents posted in different places around the globe, Shua’a learnt art forms from countries she lived in like silk painting from Tunisia and this led her to appreciate various cultures and mediums of art as well. In 1997, she graduated from Richmond The American International University in London.

After 22 years of travelling around the world she came back to her home town and was surprised to find her country grappling with fast-paced development and progress. The positive effect of an oil and gas-rich economy that spiralled her country into fame along with the diligent use of resources to fan the cultural and artistic landscape of the country had a nostalgic effect on the artist who missed this important period of transition and came to the country in the throes of its success. This pushed her into finding more about the transitional period through her art, of subjects of the balance of old and modern, of the effects of tradition and modernity on local women and their individuality and place in modern Qatar and so on.

Another work of Ali which was shown this year was Tawazun made of granite, sandstone, limestones and pebbles, located at the Msheireb, Downtown Doha on Sikkat Al Wadi and is inspired by construction debris and location marks (Neshan) found in both urban and desert environments. The artist explores the relationship between past and present-day Doha using symbolic stacking of materials to create visionary, balanced, agglomerative sculptural forms.

Public Art Installation Images by Iwan Baan, Courtesy Qatar Museums.