An exhibition featuring the work of more than a dozen Chinese contemporary artists and a collection of 100 pieces of silk collected over centuries will be two of the main events headlining the upcoming Year of Culture between Qatar and China, Qatar Museums (QM) has said.
In addition to the two main exhibitions, Qatar will also host an open-air Chinese festival and Chinese movie week as part of its line-up of activities through 2016. A full line-up will be announced soon, QM said.
China is Qatar’s fifth and latest partner for the cultural tie-up, which QM launched in 2012 with Japan as the inaugural country. The UK and Brazil have also served as partners, and this year Turkey was part of the program, which is designed to build and strengthen cultural ties between Qatar residents and other countries.
This is done through art exhibitions, educational programs and cultural exchanges throughout the year.
The idea of the tie-up was discussed during the Emir’s visit to China last November, and made official in April by Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, when he met with the Asian country’s Cultural Minister Luo Shugang in Beijing.
During the meeting, Al Kuwari expressed his appreciation for the rich culture of China and the depth of the historical relations between Arabs and the Chinese.
In a statement on its website at the time of the announcement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said:
“China supports the holding of China-Qatar Cultural Year in 2016 to push forward bilateral people-to-people and cultural exchanges…Qatar will work with China to well organize activities of the Qatar-China Cultural Year in 2016 and deepen friendship between the two peoples.”
One of the highlights of the year’s events will be the exhibition What About the Art? Contemporary Art from China, which will include works by 15 contemporary Chinese artists and will be curated by internationally acclaimed New York-based Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang.
After his solo exhibition at Mathaf in 2011, Cai returns to Qatar as a curator to present the exhibition which features the artists and collectives working in a variety of media.
Located in Al Riwaq gallery, near the Museum of Islamic Art, the exhibition is set to open in Spring 2016.
Also set to open in Spring at the QM gallery in Katara is the exhibition Silks from the Silk Road, which includes 100 pieces of silk work made from ancient to modern times and aims to chart the history of silk and its cultural significance over thousands of years, QM said.
Meanwhile, QM’s Pearls exhibition, which has previously traveled to London, Sao Paulo and Istanbul during past years of culture, is set to open in Beijing during next year.
Previous versions of the exhibition have featured jewelry made by the natural pearls of the Arabian Gulf (from 200 AD until around 1930) and highlights have included pearls and jewelry by Cartier, Elizabeth Taylor’s natural pearl earrings by Bulgari, 10 royal tiaras from European monarchies, tribal jewelry made with pearls from Tibet, and Chinese freshwater pearls.
In a statement, Al Kuwari said:
“Qatar and China have strong cultural identities and we are each proud of our history, heritage and traditions. Building on our shared values and outlook will help build closer cooperation and partnership between us in ways that extend beyond culture…
We look forward to celebrating our growing relationship with widespread participation and engagement in both countries in the coming year.”
QM official Mohammed Al Othman added the partnership “will further demonstrate that Qatar is a cultural destination which is open to the world.”
The year of culture aims to forge closer economic as well as cultural links between states and in recent years, Qatar and China have strengthened their political and business tie-ups.
In May 2014 for example, China replaced the US as Qatar’s top exporter in terms of origin country for total imports into Qatar during the month.
Meanwhile, trade between the two countries has grown in the last few years from $8.5 billion in 2012 to $10 billion in 2013, mostly on the strength of energy exports – namely natural gas – from Qatar, as well as Chinese shipments of electronics and building materials to the Gulf.
In terms of natural gas, Qatar Petroleum signed a deal in 2010 with PetroChina and Shell to explore and produce an 8,100-square-kilometer gas field near Ras Laffan.
A year later, the three companies entered into an agreement to build a petrochemicals and refining complex in Zhejiang province in east China.
Speaking about the line-up of events for the year ahead, China’s ambassador to Qatar Li Chen said in a statement:
“China-Qatar 2016 Year of Culture is a grand celebration of culture and arts, reflecting the close relationship and spirit of collaboration between our countries, as envisioned by our leaders. Our relationship with Qatar is of huge significance to us and we are proud to be hosting the 2016 Year of Culture. We share much in common, including the importance we attach to our histories, traditions and cultures, particularly as our countries grow and develop.”