Waqif Art Center and Qatar University
Launch Innovative Program


Photo published in Qatar Happening, November 2008


The Waqif Art Center and Qatar University are solidifying their activities begun in May 2008 towards building the human capacity of writers in Qatar. By developing a comprehensive program to foster and maintain interest in writing amongst the population in Qatar they announce the launch of “Finding Your Voice” (FYV). This is a community support fund whose initiating sponsors are HSBC Qatar, the Waqif art center, and Qatar University. It is the first fund in the country established for the creation, implementation, and promotion of writing skills.

The official launch of the fund, along with public readings by authors who are participants in the fund’s various activities, was held in the Waqif art center in souq Waqif on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 5:00 p.m. The event was free and open to the public.

As per the purpose of the FYV, all monies will be used to offer writing workshops, conferences, and publication opportunities to participants by using the talents of Doha based as well as international writers. Finding Your Voice’s inception was precipitated by the May 2008 publication of the essay anthology QATAR NARRATIVES.

The fund is still open to contributors from both private and corporate donors who are interested in further supporting the development of writers in Qatar. Please contact the Waqif art center for more information on donating to this innovative program at: info@waqifartcenter.com or +974-434 0921.

The fund’s first flagship project will be activities associated with the publication of a second book, IN MY GRANDMOTHER’S EYES: GLIMPSES IN BETWEEN A GENERATION IN QATAR. The second publication will feature essays by the millennial generation in Qatar and their reflections on how life in Qatar has changed since their grandparents’ times. This volume is open to male and female writers. Essays will be opinion pieces, memoir, or any narrative that explores how life now is similar or different from the lives of the ‘grandparents’ generation of Qatar.

In conjunction with the second book are a series of writing workshops led by international consultant, Carol Henderson, during her third trip to Qatar to work with local writers. During the week of October 19-25, 2008, Henderson along with QU consultant Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, Ph.D. offered one on one small group seminars at various locations around the country including the Texas A and M University and Weill Cornell Medical College’s campuses as well as Qatar University and the Waqif art center, to help develop the content for the book. Henderson’s visit is made possible by the FYV and the Public Affairs office at the US Embassy. For more information on workshop timings please contact: M.rajakumar@qu.edu.qa or +974-485-6686.

Future projects include a two day writing conference in December 2008 featuring experts in Arab and women’s writing such as Evelyn Accad, Ph.D. Dr. Accad is Professor Emeritus of University of Illinois, USA and Lebanese American University and has published ten books, numerous articles, and book chapters as well as edited volumes in English and in French. The writing conference will offer a variety of teaching styles and genres to participants, as an introduction to writing as a craft outside of academic practice.

The entire impetus of the Finding Your Voice fund is based on success of the first book in the series, sponsored by QU and a grant from the US Department of State’s Middle East Partnership initiative. The first run printing of 300 copies of the book were quickly acquired by the public. Then an additional 500 copies of the book were released in a printed commission by the Waqif Art Center. The book, now on sale in Virgin Megastore and the Waqif art center bookstore, was the first of its kind in Qatar, allowing local women to address social and cultural issues in writing. The first volume of 25 essays featured female writers in Qatar and gave them the opportunity to speak about social, cultural, and personal issues and make this discussion available to the community at large. The writers and book were featured in all the local newspapers, as well as the MEPI regional newsletter, which is viewed by more than 700 people in the Middle East and internationally.

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