The Al Azzm Sculpture Brings Out the Essence of Strength of Women

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Mohammed Al Thani speaks about his inspiration for the artwork, Walking Through a Storm, The Al Azzm sculpture, the challenges of creating it, and how it reflects the vision of Qatar Foundation.

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al Thani, Advisor of Cultural Affairs at Qatar Foundation (QF) and Founder of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.

In art, creativity often meets with the core values of society, and relates to the deep feelings and experiences that shape us – feelings and experiences that can be represented in every artwork we create.

This is how, the Al Azzm sculpture was designed and installed in the heart of Qatar Foundation’s Education City; reflecting the essence of our homeland, as well as the spirit of determination, resilience, and commitment that stands at the core of Qatar Foundation’s vision.

Al Azzm came from an idea inspired by the artwork ‘Al-Bawareh’ by the Qatari artist Jassim Zaini, which I saw in the 1990s, but the essence of Al Azzm is based on the idea of breaking through the storm – a metaphor for overcoming challenges with persistence and determination.

Qatari women as a symbol of home and strength of the land.

Through this sculpture, I wanted to represent Qatari women as a symbol of the home and of the land.

Al Azzm represents strength: the strength of the nation, the strength of women, and the strength inherent in the vision of Qatar Foundation.

My mother has always been the main person in my life. After my father’s demise early in my life, she raised me alone. Her personality combined with steadfast strength and extreme kindness had a profound impact on me as I came to understand how women embody the essence of love.

The large-scale sculpture that takes an important position within the National Museum of Qatar references a traditional sailing dhow resting on the sands of the shore. The artwork also acts as a tribute to the region’s last generation of women who wore the battoola. The original work by HE Hassan bin Mohammed Al Thani dates back to 2002. This particular edition was commissioned by Qatar Museums. (Source Qatar Museums website)

There are many similarities between the nation of Qatar and women. In a previous artwork of mine titled ‘Motherland’, which is located in the National Museum of Qatar, I expressed this great resemblance.

In Al Azzm, the elements of the artwork are three Qatari women, who appear as if they are walking against the wind, arms crossed, with their abayas rippling behind them, as they sway forward to break through the storm.

This is a metaphor for their determination to keep going despite what they face.

Al Azzm was crafted from solid and soft granite stone, expressing the resilience of women, and showcasing the solid determination and the tender depth of their emotions. The abayas symbolise the protective embrace that envelops this strength, showing the combination of power and compassion within women.

Installing this work in Education City is in line with Qatar Foundation’s achievements. Al Azzm symbolises the journey of Qatar Foundation from its establishment in 1995 to its present day, representing resolve and willpower, and reflecting the story of the organization.

Throughout history, art has been the highest form of expression among nations. It reflects the development and progress of civilizations. And art is connected to Qatar Foundation with creative works decorating every hall and entrance, transforming its buildings into art pieces. This focus on art within Education City adds to the organization’s beautiful appeal and symbolises its elegance.

The Al Azzm sculpture went through many stages and challenges, starting from choosing the strong stone mirroring the enduring legacy of the Pharaohs’ works who favoured granite in their architecture, passing through the stage of transporting rocks from Aswan in southern Egypt to Cairo, to the sculpting work, and finally culminating in the transfer of artistic pieces from Egypt to Qatar.

The materiality of the installation conveys the essence of strength in character.

All of this makes me feel proud that Education City will embrace my sculpture after it was recently inaugurated by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, and that it will join the collection of wonderful artworks at Qatar Foundation.

Just as I never expected that my design for the ‘The Door to The Future’, which students from Qatar Foundation’s partner universities pass through every year at the Convocation celebration, would become a permanent element in graduation ceremonies, I hope that the artwork Al Azzm will provide inspiration and enjoyment for visitors, especially since it is an interactive work that engages the audience, urging them to move around it, deeply understand it, and experience it through touch.

Artworks inspired by our heritage and cultural identity emphasize the role of heritage symbols in shaping our awareness and strengthening our ties to our roots. In its keenness to celebrate public art, Qatar Foundation builds a bridge between the past and the present.

Being part of Qatar Foundation’s commitment to promoting public art allows me to contribute to a dynamic organization that nurtures a sense of belonging, sparks inspiration across generations – and will leave a legacy for years to come.

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed Al Thani holds the position of Advisor for Cultural Affairs at Qatar Foundation.