Gulf crisis inspires Qatari woman to become political cartoonist

Ghada bnt Ali

One of Ghada’s cartoons

Ghada bnt Ali never planned to become a political cartoonist. But when the Gulf dispute began in June, the 28-year-old said she had to do something.

“Qatar was being bullied, and everything that has happened with the crisis allowed me to use it (drawing) as an outlet,” said the Qatari woman.

By day, Ghada works for Qatar Museums in acquisitions. But she also wants to put her graphic design degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar to good use.

A lifelong lover of art, her leap into political cartoons only began a few months ago.

Her first cartoon, shared on Instagram and Twitter on June 11, was a peace sign, designed to look like a Q in Qatar colors.

On the recent closure of Aljazeera. #الجزيره #aljazeera

A post shared by Ghada Bnt Ali // غادة بنت علي (@geeak) on

Bnt Ali then produced a few more cartoons, and her work suddenly became, as she puts it, “a thing.”

I only did this to find a different outlet, I didn’t expect it to explode per se. But the more I did, the more I got interaction and reactions from people. I posted consecutively for about four days, and after that people said they were waiting for a new one.”

Reactions on social media

As her work began to be shared more widely, she received requests for copies of her cartoons so that people could use them as decorations for their cars, or to hang on the wall at home.

One particular design, about Turkey’s support of Qatar during the crisis, was shared by the country’s official news agency.

The design simply says “the leader” in Arabic, and the crescent on the Turkish flag is used to create the word.

“I got lots of messages from Turkish people after that,” she said.

Big ambitions

Ghada bnt Ali said she is inspired by street artists like Banksy, and that she has always wanted to use her design talents to “talk about social issues in a comical way.”

Ghada bnt Ali

One of Ghada’s cartoons

And although she’s just starting out, the cartoonist has big ambitions.

Friends have suggested she try to get a regular spot in one of Qatar’s papers, while others urge her to reach a more global audience.

“I really want to get my work out there in the global arena. You don’t see a lot of people from the Middle East showcasing their point of view like that.”

You can follow Ghada bnt Ali on Instagram and Twitter.

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