Design Doha 2024 Brings Arab Designers Together

Design Doha 2024, a biennial showcase for excellence and innovation in the design community in Qatar and the MENA region was opened on February 24, 2026. Established under the leadership of Qatar Museums’ Chairperson, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Design Doha aims to be a new platform for practitioners across the Arab world, helping to build professional pathways, and engage with  acclaimed design professionals from around the world who convened at the event.

Arab Design Now, 100 works from 74 designers from around the Arab world.

That the first edition of Design Doha Biennial would be a forceful design entry was unimagined. Not only were the collection showcased within its headline exhibition Arab Design Now stunning, it was also varied in theme, materiality and content, proving undoubtedly the might of Arab designers.  The programmes running in conjunction with the Design Biennial were also of value to designers and students wishing to be updated with current trends.

According to HE Sheikha Mayassa, “Design Doha is a testament to the excellence and innovation of our region’s design community. It is a curatorially-driven initiative that unites creative leaders from across the globe while supporting Arab designers in advancing their creative practices and businesses.”

Other exhibitions ongoing within M7 and other subsidiary exhibitions around Msheireb during the biennial area were engaging and left creative personalities and international media, invited to Doha by Qatar Museums, impressed. But, what might have made this Biennial more engaging would have been additional local presence.

By local, we do not mean only Qatari designers, but also those designers and architects who have made this region their own, have studied and practised here or are practising here. The absence of the essence of the country, their contributions if included have mostly been at the peripheries of the design district and not within the highlight premise, the M7 building thus not catching immidiate attention of every visitor, can be seen as the only shortcoming in this celebration of design.

Colors of the City: A Century of Architecture in Doha, Weaving Poems in collaboration with Turquoise Mountain, and 100/100 HUNDRED BEST ARABIC POSTERS Round 04 are smaller exhibitions distributed within M7, and each one of them curated and arranged in the most beautiful presentations making their content remarkable.

But this was not just it, the programmes running in conjunction with Design Doha 2024 were spread out in Msheireb, each bringing in their personal stories of design with Design Forums adding refined thoughts and discussions with the participation of signature architects, curators and thought leaders forming the speaker lineup.

We will discuss Colors of the City and some other interesting exhibitions in additional stories that will be posted soon.

Arab Design Now

Curated by Rana Beiruti, co-founder of Amman Design Week, Arab Design Now is a survey exhibition of 74 designers and studios across the MENA region, that examines how local and regional designers balance contemporary design with traditional methods derived from the region’s heritage, with a particular focus on environmental and sustainable design.

Rana Beiruti, Curator, Arab Design Now

According to Beiruti the exhibition is an eye-opener. She says, “It has been a while since we have seen such a blockbuster design exhibition in the region. Designers have put in a lot of effort to create pieces that are sincere, real, and raw. It is a moment for Arab designers to come together, to engage, and to learn from one another. Biennials like this is an excellent opportunity for this.”

Our Selection of Must-See Design Installations at Arab Design Now

When Beiruti talks about authentic installations, groundbreaking and real designs, we turn our eyes to those that speak the language of the region through design.

The work of Salimi Naji, an architect engaged in the protection of the oasis heritage and is one of the rare architects to work in the rural world, continuously advocating change in architectural practices and urban planning code, comes first to mind.

Sharing the Earth by Salimi Naji seen iin the periphery.

Details of the interiors of the installation.

Sharing the Earth by Salimi Naji is a large-scaled work and a perfect example of raw, with the architect creating an amazing two-part structure inspired by her research into vernacular buildings in Morocco. This structure is made from clay and straw, all locally sourced from farms in Doha, the Torba Farm, to be precise.

According to the architect, the entire project took three days to make the bricks from the sourced clays, seven days for the drying of the bricks and seven days to build the pavilions on site.

“Feeling, caressing the earth, assembling, thinking, experiencing, and thinking every second,” is how the architect describes the entire process. There can be nothing more real or authentic creation than this.

11 by Sahel AlHiyari

Eleven is another monumental work that deserves mention.  Sahel AlHiyari, a Jordanian architect has created 11 terracotta columns which according to the architect, “explores the potential of extruded terracotta structural elements”. A perfect example of design marrying technology to explore the properties of the material.

The Nomad Pavilion by Dina Haddadin

The Nomad Pavilion by Dina Haddadin is another large-scaled work using corten steel pipe and weaved goat hair and rope, a tent-shaped pavilion composed of nine petals rotated on 30-degree angles. Another celebration of craftsmanship and a homage to tradition.

“The living breathing skin made from coarsely woven goat hair is similar to the native material used in Bedouin tents and provides insulation and also has the function of collecting rain water while being a protector from the natural elements,” says Dina.

“One thing we focus on at the Arab Design Now is craft and particularly how designers respond to the unique geographies of the region and look at material resources from around them and use techniques that respond and react to the resources they are presented with,” says Rana Beiruti and taking the cue from this we look at designs that explore material and crafts.

Constellations by Abeer Seikaly

Constellations by Abeer Seikaly is a stunning piece of work that takes up an entire room within the exhibition.

Abeer Seikaly is a Jordanian-Palestinian interdisciplinary thinker and maker, who works across architecture, design, fine art, and cultural production. The light sculpture is handcrafted from over 5,000 pieces of Murano glass, linked together in a continuous mesh that awakens memories because the weave is the traditional weave seen in basket weaving in the region.

“This draws on heritage from both Italy and the Arab homeland, merging traditional Venetian glassmaking and Bedouin weaving practices,” she says.

“The Arab world has a lot to offer. It is not one region with one set of people, it is a lot of diversity and this Biennial gives us the true picture than what you would otherwise see in the media, one that is very engaged in the global scene,” says Beiruti.

Reef by Samer Selbak,a Paris-based Palestinian designer, is a work that reflects honesty and integrity in material selection and staying true to it. Using the “almost forgotten traditional Luffa fibre”, Selbak has crafted space dividers and pendant lamps that captivate with their colours and textures. “The Luffa project centres around the Luffa plant – a plant that is in use in Arab cultures since centuries as a bathing sponge,” he says.

“The pieces are supported by steel armatures that are functional in providing form while the resilient and biodegradable luffa fibre treated, shaped, flattened and sewn to create these pieces. I have made sure to use only natural dyes and no artificial components entre this process,” says Selbak.

The green bridal chest by Naqsh Studio.

Green Bridal Chest by Naqsh Collection is another example of traditional craft and intricate design. It is the work of Naqsh collective founded in 2009 in Amman, Jordan, by two sisters Nisreen and Nermeen Abudail.

A bridal chest in traditional Palestinian motifs of the Flaura and fauna in brass inlay work on green marble is a product of luxury, of stories and of minute detailing.

“Stories of the land have been converted into another material to preserve our tradition and to preserve the stories for the next generation,” says Abudail.

Gilded Fleece by Adrian Pepe

A stunning piece of work and craft is Gilded Fleece by Adrian Pepe for which the multi-disciplinary artist took inspiration from the theme of the Golden Fleece, composed of tanned skins of adult sheep, connected with an accordion stitch.

“The interesting thing about the process of gliding is the various animals involved in the process,” says Adrian, “The reticular side of this composition of sheep skins is prepared and lathered with the refined collagen of rabbit, otherwise known as rabbit glue, in preparation to adopt to a thin layer of 24-karat gold leaf, handled and positioned using brushes made from horses and squirrel hair.”

The work is like a large document referencing illuminated manuscripts of the past.

Digital Lights by Fabraca Studio

A craft of technology that is a result of the city that has faced much destruction makes an interesting piece of sculptural aluminium chandelier by Beirut-based Fabraca Studio headed by Samer Saadeh who specialises in creating lighting solutions created by hand in collaboration with local craftsmen.

Whispers from the deep by T Sakhi

Whispers from the Deep by T Sakhi is a celebration of an ancient craft with an impression of underwater sea creatures. To capture the textures, various types of discarded metals from factories in the Venetian region infused with glass which resulted in dramatic patters in glass through which when light passes, gives way to a thing of wonder. Placed quite intelligently in a transient space, within the dramatically large lift space inside M7, the space gets transformed into an underwater adventure of mystery and awe.

Architects Independent’s The Plant & Weed Rings

Qatari contributions are equally arresting with Architects Independent’s The Plant & Weed Rings, a collection of wearable artefacts inspired by flowers, weeds and trees of Doha.

Medaillon by Booabbood

Maryam Al Homaid’s carpet collection serves as a representation of Qatar’s ever-evolving construction landscape. Designed to showcase the ubiquitous construction barriers found throughout the country, the carpet captures the essence of these barriers, known for their vibrant orange and white colours, which have become a familiar sight for Qatar’s residents and workers. Booabbod’s Medaillon are light pieces inspired by Arabic jewellery, a modern twist to tradtional aesthetics.

Reverie by Hiba Shahzada

But we just have to tell you about the one design that transported us to another place of quiet, the Reverie by Hiba Shahzada. A suspended ceiling with a domed interiors and four free standing pillars anchored in an all-ground reflecting water body.

Serene, this piece of work begs for introspection and respect. Wood and water seem to evoke memories of earlier such moments of peace while the interiors of the dome and the pillars that seem to float without touching the ceiling makes us wonder, and as the artist puts it, “the piece stands between day and night, beyond time, in stillness and yet in rhythm with the melody of water ripples it invites renewal and asks for hope. It is a work of beauty and calms the wandering mind with pause.”